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Sister Cyril


Dr. Cyril Mooney was born in 1936. Growing up in the post-war Ireland, she witnessed the poverty and exclusion of the immigrant children attending her school. At the age of twelve she decided to dedicate her life to serving people on the margins of society. At 20 she joined the Loreto order and relocated to Kolkata.


After completing her PhD in Zoology in 1979, Dr. Mooney became the principal of Loreto Day School Sealdah, a prestigious catholic school for affluent Anglo-Indian girls. During her 35 years of work as a principal of the school, she has created an inclusive and person centered educational model with life saving and society changing programs, transforming the school and benefiting lives of over half million people. 


Her stunningly effective community-based education does away with competition, celebrates diversity, puts service to others at the heart of the curriculum, turns illiterate street children into scholars and turns regular schools into effective centres for community development. Dr. Mooney, her staff and students overcame the limitations of social norms and religions inspiring educators and organisations worldwide. 


Dr. Cyril Mooney is an Ashoka fellow, holder of the NOMA Award for Spreading Literacy (UNESCO), and has been awarded the Government of India’s fourth-highest civilian honor. She is an internationally recognised educational innovator whose approach is said to have universal application, and helps to address some of the primary issues in education around the world today.

„The first thing you have to do is to remove competition. If you do that, you won half of your battle.” - S.M. Cyril

Loreto Day School Sealdah, Kolkata Resource Centre for Social Transformation impacted the lives of over 450 000 of the poorest of the poor (numbers by 2012).

700 students in the school were from financially strong/stable families who could afford to pay the fees

700 students were from the most marginalised social sectors (children of poverty, prostitution, homelessness, the abandoned, etc.). These children were fully integrated into the school

247 residential children in the Rainbow Home; the school opened for underprivileged girls from homes too poor or too dangerous for them to remain in. They found their home at the school, sleeping at the roof, living, playing, eating and studying in the school.

40 more Rainbow Homes opened in other schools in West Bengal

3500 children in Child to child program in villages were thought every Saturday by 150 Loreto students

7000 Barefoot Teachers were trained to teach very young children in their locality, who would not otherwise have access to education due to great distances to travel to state-run schools. These teachers could not attend teacher trainings at universities, but well capable and could teach classes 1-5, after which these children were old enough to commute to regular schools.

350 000 children benefited by Barefoot Teachers

Programs in the slum areas (Shikshalaya Prakalpa program)

1400 teachers were trained in the slum areas.

470 centres was created to serve 26 000 children a year in impoverished areas.

11 schools with 75 teachers was founded in the Sampura slums, serving 1200 children a year.

Brickfields factories

26 schools opened for children in the brick factories.

30 teachers was trained and serving 

1300 children benefited in the brickfields.

Fisherfolk program

20 centres

1329 children

40 teachers

Hidden domestic child labor

1040 hidden domestic child workers were identified.

306 hidden domestic child workers were accepted to school.

209 children received vocational training.

651 children received health care.

57 children was saved from life-endangering situations

28 900 children received advocacy

Human Rights education

5 distrect involved

108 government schools

18 priate schools

251 teachers trained

State Advisory committee formed

Challenged children

30 children in special classes

20 Higher secondary schools

built for 2400 children

Bhalobasha home

22 senior residents in Bhalobasha home (formally living homeless on the street)


The school maintained 24 childline 

The students brought food to elderly women abandoned by their families living in the streets

500 families helpedy through a microcredit system for single mothers

To learn more watch the Sit Beside Me film.

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