School Children Project

Networking Innovative Teachers for Educational Rehabilitation: 
SRISTI’s & IIMACORE's initiative for rebuilding Kutch

Relief  - Centre: An immidiate response to Earthquake:

SRISTI and IIMA-CORE initiated relief work on the very next day of the earthquake. The very next day collection center at IIMA started functioning and goods have been deployed at interior villages. For effective distribution, need-assessment survey undertaken with the help of IIMA faculty, students and SRISTI volunteers.

Destroyed School & hopes

Construction of a school

A class in progress

Play & Learn, Mr. Ramanlal Soni's, unique method to develop interest amongst students

A Calls under a makeshift Camp

Volunteer Teachers conducting classes 

A journey of exploration with a difference in Kutch:

The seventh Shodhyatra (Sikshan Sodh Evam Shram Arpan Yatra) was devoted to a special cause and planned to serve the purpose of educational rehabilitation in most-affected sixteen villages of Rapar taluka of Kutch. While most of the agencies and government efforts geared more towards distribution of goods and civil works, education rehabilitation has been considered is an area, which had been neglected. For detail report on seventh Shodhyatra please see, Honeybee vol 12 No 3 July-September, 2001 edition .

Students & Teachers

Another class meeting

A Camp Class

The major lessons learned during the seventh:

  1. Building of semi-pucca schools in ten villages of Rapar Taluka.
  2. Small school and village libraries have been set up in ten villages. Several books (twenty-thousand pages per school), teaching-learning materials along with Gujarat encyclopedia (Vishwakosh) were donated to the Schools.
  3. To recognize and reward the children’s curiosity and knowledge about local plant-diversity, biodiversity contests have been organized in three villages. Children and villagers had not only participated enthusiastically but also exhibited rich knowledge about plant diversity along with its medicinal values.
  4. Women’s culinary creativity has also been documented through recipe contest in Pichana village. More than 25 women participated. For details please see, Shodhyatra report 7.
  5. Villagers and parents have been persuaded to recognize and make use of local experts available in their own village or near by. In most of the schools, teachers have agreed that they would spare at least one hour a week (either before school time or on week-end or on holiday) to the local expert or most-knowledgeable elder in a community.
  6. Community tree-plantations have been carried out in ten villages either in the school-compound or village commons. State forest department has provided the seedlings.
  7. Recharging of well was done through combined labour in pichana village.
  8. Water-tank for cattle has been constructed in Kumbaria village.
  9. The most extra-ordinary thing happened in three villages, where.
  10. Shodhyatris have decided not to proceed to their further journey until all parents of school-going age children enroll their children. In Naliya Timba, Shodhyatris decided that unless all children enroll before night, they would not have their dinner. It worked and not only never-enrolled but also dropped-out children were enrolled in the presence of village Sarpanch, head teacher and Talati. Villages like Khanpar, have problem of migrant labour families who migrate out of village for more than six months and carry their children to workplace. Meetings with such parents were held and alternative models like community-schools, flexi-timing etc. have been discussed and decided to follow-up separately with state education department. Letters have been written to education minister, secretary and director or primary education. In 10 villages, SRISTI has facilitated recruitment of un-employed rural youth to work as a schoolteacher through community consent.
  11. An outstanding teacher, and winners of several honors and awards (State and National best teacher award and recipient of CASTME (Commonwealth Association of Science Teachers and Math Educators) award Shri Ramanbhai Soni of Sabarkantha organized joyful learning in an informal settings in the village and demonstrated how children are best taught outside classroom walls. His creative ways of inspiring and attracting children and teaching maths and science through songs not only attracted children but also village elders.

What next: Action plan for Educational rehabilitation of Rapar

It has been realized that educational rehabilitation in some of the poorest and remote earthquake affected areas, where not much has been done, should be top on the agenda for any planned intervention. The experience of shodhyatra has been very useful in identifying blocks and areas for next phase. SRISTI has already have networked outstanding primary school teachers from Gujarat and other states and some them have achieved outstanding results, in ‘difficult’ situations and ‘difficult’ areas in-spite of well-known hurdles of primary education. Ramanbhai Soni, Motibhai Nayak and Some of the other teachers took up the challenge and not only involved them selves voluntarily but also helped identify similar teachers to commit their time and efforts in this noble cause.

Ramanbhai Soni has identified certain key areas for strategic interventions based on the block-specific issues of Rapar. Faculty members of Ravi J Matthai Center for Educational Innovation, IIM, Ahmedabad, State Government officials from GCERT, Gandhinagar and Sukhdev Patel of Ahmedabad-based NGO Ganatar (well known for its successful experiments of alternative schooling) were people among others, who had deliberated on the issues on 17th July 2001 (Please see, minutes of the meeting) at IIM, Ahmedabad.

The major action points that have been emerged are:

  1. Need to idenyify more innovative and creative teachers who wish to initiate and sustain education rehabilitation in Rapar taluka on sustained basis. Both in-servive and retired teachers with skills and will could be located and involved. Ravi J Matthai center would provide list of such teachers.
  2. One state level coordination group of such teachers would be formed under the leadership of Shri Ramanbhai Soni. However based upon the problems identified in Rapar block, six to seven groups can be formed. Ramanbhai Soni will prepare a rough outline of the project in consultation with SRISTI , GCERT and RJMCEI.
  3. There is a need to collect baseline data of Rapar taluka. To build the educational database, GCERT (Gujarat Council of Education Research and Training, Gandhinagar) will help in gathering data through relevant government agencies and NGOs.
  4. In view of school to reopen in next month, the immediate focus should be on enrolment drive. Villages where demand have been evident during Shodhyatra and where data and secondary sources show the need, enrolment awareness campaign through innovative primary school teachers may be launched. Local teachers, community leaders and children should also be encouraged to participate.
  5. GCERT will help the group in training of resource persons throughout the project.
  6. The duration of this project is from August 2001 to April 2002.

Discussing the outline:

Ramanbhai Soni has proposed the outline of project, which was discussed on 3rd August 2001. Apart from coordination and other issues, it was though to divide the project site (200 schools of Rapar) in different school zones. Different activity-mix for each zone have been discussed. The broad classification of zone and activities have been shown in the following table:

Number of schools Criteria of scool-zone classification Project activities
45 - 50 Educationally-most deprived and disadvantaged areas and communities, poor demand and difficult access Setting up basic infrastructure, Rigorous Mobilization campaign
50 - 55 Villages or schools on main accessible roads, some awareness towards education, school with some facilities but dysfunctional schools. Community mobilization with focus on improving quality, Ensuring greater participation of village leaders, improving school infrastructure.
45 - 50 Schools little functional, awareness towards education exhibited. Seeting up liberalities and conducting teacher and CRC(Cluster Resource Centre Coordinators) training , Regular follow-up and feedback , Strengthening school-community links.
40 - 45 Educationally-better but badly earth-quake affected villages. Improving school and village infrastructure, Capacity-building of teachers and community-leaders.

This broad classification will cover almost all school of Rapar. Any school that is left out under this classification can be separately handled based on the response and interest of community. 

Did it work:  Meeting of volunteer teachers on 29th August, 2001

The coordination committee members who had visited the district and launched activities met to share their experiences and for future plan. The project has helped in mobilization and ensured entry of school-going age children also motivated community to re-enrol their kids in to school so that thy do not miss out the current year. The most four important issues have emerged as part of the discussion is:

  1. School and parents visits should be intensified in the identified villages from 10.9.2001 to 17.9.2001.
  2. Focus on children of migrating parents on the border villages of Rapar taluka.
  3. Status on drop-out school children in sample villages and holding community-level meetings to discuss strategies to reenroll out-of-school children.
  4. Activity-oriented learning activities to be speeded up in sample villages in consultation with CRC coordinators and teachers. Activities, which encourage children creativity and learning, should be initiated to start with. Some of the teachers from the Rapar taluka have already been networked from the district. Teachers from other districts of the state will also be involved, wherever necessary.

Strengthening capacities of CRC coordinators: Gaining the momentum:

As a part of making education creative and interesting activity, one day training and orientation workshop organized on 10th September 2001 at Smt Sushiladevi Sanghvi Balmandir. 39-40 Coordinators of Rapar taluka were present in the workshop. Some of the teachers like Ramanbhai Soni, Mukundbhai Vyas, Narendrabhai Pandya, Jyantibhai Raval, who have made significant contributions to make education interesting and joyful had shared their experiences. Comprehensive training package for cluster schools have been outlined at the end of day through mutual discussions with CRCs, head teachers of cluster schools and innovative teachers and members of coordination committee.

The training needs that have been identified for future training at CRC level were:

  1. Improving teachers’ competence for creative and joyful learning.
  2. Improving school-community links through cultural programmes.
  3. Special Methods of teaching which can be used in such conditions.
  4. Alternative mode of education to streamline the gap for recent drop-outs.

CRC level training was organized from 11.0.2001 to 27.9.2001 with the help of DIET, Bhuj and GCERT. At least one teacher from every school was trained during this training.

School visit programme Reaching to 'Un-reached'

The school visit programme was organized during 16th to 20th October 2001. Most school visited was located in the remote and interior villages of Rapar block.

  1. Re-enrollment of out-of-school children from village or surrounding villages.
  2. Alternative schooling for children of migrating communities.

This programme has been guided by five innovative school teachers of Gujarat and coordinated by Chandrakant Soni and Babubhai Soni of Kutch. Intensive field visits were organized during the programme. SRISTI volunteers also joined in the villages and spread the message of role that local innovations and creativity could play in generating solutions in such calamities as well. 

Fifteen remote of Rapar villages have been covered during the programme:

  1. Sarasla
  2. Khanpar
  3. Shamgad
  4. Manabavand
  5. Nandavand
  6. Dadadro
  7. Pagivaan
  8. Mittaparvand
  9. Azadnagar
  10. Prathapghad
  11. Anandavand
  12. Manjuvas
  13. Bhuttakiya
  14. Jesada
  15. Pethpar

SRISTI Bal Gram Shala: From activities to model:

The major learning and outcome of different activities have been compiled and visualized in the form of ‘SRISTI BAL Gram Shala’ meand SRISTI children Village School. The core components of this initiative are:

  1. Creation of community-hostels and convincing elder stationery parents of villages for the out-of-school children of migrating parents.
  2. Where ever community demads is evident, student teacher ration is very high and teachers are in shortfall, un-employed but educated village youth from the same village will be identified and appointed as a teacher. Project will meet expenses like honorarium to teacher etc. 
  3. Setting up and operationalising mobile library where teacher and community and especially children have shown interest.
  4. Providing play equipments, where good space near school is there.
  5. Providing simple. Low-cost and locally relevant educational aids to teach simple concepts in Math and science. SRISTI’s informal network of such creative and innovative teachers of Gujarat and other states may be drawn upon. 
  6. Sensitivity towards local knowledge and creativity should be encouraged among children. During Shodhyatra local knowledge of children about local plan diversity have been explored and this process is very encouraging and rewarding in both attracting out-of-school children (who are rich in other spheres of knowledge) and retaining ‘potential drop-outs’ (whose knowledge have been ‘disrgarded’ by formal schooling). This process should be part of curriculm through organization of biodiversity competitions and games like ‘Kaun Banga Gyanpati’ etc. 
  7. Co-curricula activities like health-camps, sanitation campaigns, Village-cleanliness, tree-plantation should be organized, where ever possible and required.
  8. Dissemination of folk-songs, folk-tales and folk-art and culture in project schools. 
  9. Special efforts to improve girls performance and participation in schools coupled with female-literacy campaigns. 
  10. Education excursions, children and science fairs, school-panchayats, dyras, have been organized and need to be part of routine school activities. 
  11. Improving physical infrastructure, where nothing has been done yet after earthquake.
    • Pichhana
    • Naliatimba 2
    • Mewasa
    • Gajjuvandha
    • Jettasari
    • Gogavandha
    • Sarasla
    • Khanpar
    • Nandavand 
  12. Monthly newsletter to update and exchange information in project villages.
  13. Project can fund subscriptions of some of the popular newsletters in Gujarati such as Shabda-gagan etc. (as decided by coordination committee in consultation with local teachers).

This model has been experimented since 25th October 2001 in six interior villages of Raparsix interior villages of Rapar

A Volunteers view point on SRISTI-IIMACORE School Project: Neil Mascarenhas

The project undertaken involved the documentation of the work done by SRISTI in education and towards setting up of supplementary schools and ashrams in selected villages of Rapar taluka, Kutch area. It is part of the ongoing rehabilitation effort SRISTI is providing to the affected villages and peoples. Read more... 

Guidelines for taking adoption of Indian Children: Govt. Norms

Whether Government would take the custody-care of the destitute children, those who are affected and become orphaned due to the natural-disaster earthquake ?

Yes, Government would take the care and custody of these orphaned Children, through the almost 42 Government and Voluntary organizations like Observations homes Vikas Grihas, Nari Griha, Anath-Kutirs, are Working in the State. Almost in Each District there is at least one organizations providing the services. Got for more details to