Few years back, I visited a tribal school, in Khedbrahma district of Gujarat, as a part of my assignment with Gujarat Government, for setting up eGovernance infrastructure in rural and tribal area. I noticed several kids walking to school every day, covering about 3-5 KM on foot. After a long trudge, the only meal they managed was the government-sponsored basic lunch, under ‘Mid-Day Meal’. Deep within me, I was overcome by pathos.
People rarely speak in that place called Poshina and most of the communication among remote tribal houses, was through drum beats. Different drum tones indicated events like death, celebration, and village meetings. The principal at the local school narrated a heart-rending story about a small girl not attending school for 3 weeks. A teacher went to her house to check on her. Her father, got emotional and said – “How do you expect me to send her to school, naked? I have one pair of cloths, which is shared by my 2 daughters. I don’t have any clothes for her, hence she is not coming to school”. I don’t have any money to buy her clothes!”
This incident had pushed me to start some grass-root work in such remote area. And that is how, ‘Project VIKAS’ – Value Integrated Knowledge Assistance Scheme, was initiated.
Leading this Project VIKAS initiative of the Dr. K. R. Shroff Foundation, promoted by eInfochips CEO Mr. Pratul Shroff, we have always supported these tribal areas. We aim to transform a million lives through education by 2025, as we believe it is the only means to uplift not only the individual, but also the family and collectively – the society
At eInfochips, we have adopted over 112 schools today. A team of 145 dedicated teachers has been deployed in rural and tribal schools, for providing value based education in this remote area. Educated, unemployed local rural youth have been carefully selected based on their skills, knowledge and aptitude. They have been provided Intensive coaching for English Language, Computer, Management Skills and Soft Skills. In addition to deployment of trained teachers, we also create educational content for the rural schools. We have developed pedagogy to teach Science, Maths and English to rural students from 6th to 8th standards, with the help of teachers, who do not have Science background. We have also developed content locally in Gujarati, to support our teachers. The focus is to have a value-based education, where we contribute to the all-round development of young children which includes physical, academic, psychological and spiritual development. Chipmates (eInfochips employees) regularly visit the region and contribute time to educate and encourage the people to continue education.
This picture shows the gradual improvement in test results of the tribal students after we engaged with these schools. The enrollment has significantly increased and the dropout rate has reduced substantially. Parents are now participating in the process and also supporting their children. This is just the beginning of our journey.
At Jolparu village, class attendance improved from 25 to 105 after our engagement. At Bhandwal and Dantroli villages, we counselled parents of 13 students to pursue education after 8th grade. There are many such stories that I will write about in the months to come.
Every week, I spend at least 4 days at our office in Vadali and look after day to day operation of Project VIKAS. The only realization I have from this experience is that we are blessed to live a life much better and convenient, compared to our tribal children.
We can arrange a visit to VIKAS for you, or any of your friends that are interested in knowing more about us. You may also part with old clothes, household items, utensils and toys that would bring immense joy to these communities. Do write to me if you would like to contribute to our cause. I would like your inputs and ideas that can help support these tribal areas in different ways. Let’s make a real difference.
Project VIKAS (Vadali Integrated Knowledge Assistance Scheme) aims to make quality education available to the rural schools in Vadali Taluka. and making each school ‘a model school’ by training and employing local youth.
Under project VIKAS, 112 Government schools in Vijaynagar, Khedbrahma, Vadali and Bhiloda Talukas of Sabarkantha district have been adopted by eInfochips.