The Akshar Trust
Each year in India, 27,500 children are born with deafness, but only 35% of those children gain access to the education system. The Akshar Trust provides an academic environment for children with hearing impairment and the opportunity to develop skills for a life of self-reliance and independence. It is PMC’s core belief in equality and opportunity for all which resulted in an enduring partnership, now in its 14th year.
The Akshar Trust began its work with 5 hearing impaired children on 18th July 1988. Today, it is educating 118 children with a staff of 30, including teachers, an audiologist, a speech teacher and lecturers. In total, over 530 children with deafness have been educated, and 356 teachers trained, by Akshar.
Since 2007 and the establishment of PMC India, PMC has been an active supporter and donor to the Trust. Over the last 14 years PMC has supported the trust in many different ways. From developing software for student management, supporting skill-building programmes and providing hardware - such as classroom smartboards and monitors - to providing monthly financial support helping the Trust 's continued investment in their facilities and staff.
4 years ago, a skill-building programme for the alumni to bridge the gap between the school life and the start of their working careers, specifically to help them with language and computer skills. English is taught in Indian schools, but for some students is their third or fourth language, making lip-reading of English especially challenging. PMC has helped devise a curriculum to develop further language skills, and supported the creation of a faculty for computing to further enhance the skills needed by the students when embarking on a career.
At the time, Paul Mason commented in the significance of the new scheme, “PMC is proud to extend its longstanding support for the Akshar Trust by sponsoring this important new initiative. It is vital that the wonderful work of the school culminates in the students being able to compete well to find their place in the working world.”
Today, six former Akshar graduates are now building successful careers with PMC, working as Software Test Analysts, in Operational Support, HR and Finance. The transition to remote working for all PMC employees early last year due to the Coronavirus has posed additional challenges for those with hearing impairments. Lip-reading during Teams calls is not straightforward, and the auto-caption text not always easy to follow. So PMC is implementing an additional programme of support and continued assessment-based learning.
Speaking about the Akshar Trust and the former students who are now PMC employees, PMC Founder and Chairman says, “The Akshar Trust is a simply wonderful organisation that is transforming the lives of children with hearing difficulties. We are truly proud to be associated with them. I am particularly proud of our commitment to recruiting at least one graduate of the school into our business each year and training them to become retail technology professionals.”
The Coronavirus Pandemic hit India hard. For the students and teaching staff at the Trust, the early India lockdown and impact of the ongoing pandemic required resilience and commitment to ensure that the teaching and training did not stop. Through various means of communication and interaction, contact was maintained with all students, with conference calls and training for on-line classes, whilst sending and correcting of worksheets on mobile platforms became the norm.
From the outset, PMC’s vision has been to build a close and meaningful partnership with the Akshar Trust. Founder Director and Managing Trustee of the Trust. Speaking about the long term commitment and contribution from PMC, Nisha explains, “It is the sustained support of PMC to Akshar Trust that is a unique model. It helps Akshar to focus on its core work confident that the corporate is available to provide IT and other much-needed help. It is, indeed, an invaluable relationship for Akshar."
More about the Akshar Trust