Support a Rural School in the Himalayas

 
$25,473
$14,527
Raised
Remaining
Rachana, our new Education Coordinator
Rachana, our new Education Coordinator

About Aarohi Bal Sansar (ABS)

Since its inception in 1994, ABS has been growing steadily and continues to work at raising the standard of education of the local children in the area. ABS has been functioning with the aim to institute the process of social change at an early age in order to help children become responsible citizens of society. There are currently 174 students (80 girls and 94 boys) studying in ABS. The school manages to maintain the teacher-student ratio of 1:11, which is far better than national standards, which can be as high as 1:50.

 ABS Vision

The vision of ABS is ‘Holistic development of personality in a joyful environment’. Towards this end, ABS is an inclusive school where admission is granted to all children from the area devoid of any discrimination. We charge a nominal monthly fee of (INR 250, CHF) and for those families who are unable to afford this, we provide scholarships. Nearly 80% of students at ABS are sponsored through a scholarship.

 Academic Performance

High academic performance remains a challenge for us at ABS as most of our students are first generation learners and have little support for their studies at home. Working in these conditions, our focus now is to institute systems that enable our teachers to work around these challenges.

 Recording and Analyzing Test Results: We studied Maths performance for classes 1-8 by looking at monthly class tests and half yearly exams. It was apparent that most students who are not performing well in math are actually bright but need assistance with some aspects of the subject- like multiplication or division. It emerged that with slight changes in teaching methodology these problems could be dealt with. This information will now be used by our class teachers and remedial teachers to address their performance.

 Extra-Curricular Activities: Highlights

  • First prize in Kho Kho for Primary category at Cluster, Block and District Level.
  • Independence Day, Teacher’s Day and Children’s Day were celebrated with usual enthusiasm. They were dance performances, art competitions and poem recitations.

 Bal Sansar Scholarship

Those children whose parents cannot afford the monthly fee at ABS are eligible for this scholarship. These children can study at neighbouring government schools at no cost but their families aspire for them to be able to study at a school like ABS. This puts in perspective the significance of this scholarship scheme. This scholarship scheme is reviewed every year in June. As per this year’s figures so far (June 2014), there are 55 students benefitting from this scholarship scheme. Next batch of scholarships will be reviewed in June 2015.

 Volunteers: A few select Volunteers…

 Gina Ali Khan (English teacher specialized in phonics from Mercedez Benz International School in Pune).

  • Conducted sessions with teachers about learning goals and gaps observed in the teaching of English.
  • Created strategies to improve phonics of both children and teachers.
  • Introduced the practice of collaborative meeting of English teachers at the primary level introducing the use of music and art/ craft when teaching English.

 Elizabeth Bramston and Fiona McCutcheon (Trained teachers from University of Cambridge).

  • Helped teachers in English language teaching and building tools for vocabulary learning.

 Neha Jacob (CA and Company Secretar with Ernst & Young)

  • Helped develop a format to analyze exam results enabling teachers to identify and address weak student performances more efficiently.

 Other news

 ABS has a 2nd floor

On 17th August, the new second floor of ABS building was inaugurated. The floor has one spacious art and craft room; one computer lab with 15 computers and internet; and finally a private office for our Principal. The new rooms shall allow for more space for primary school children.

 Education Steering Committee Meeting

Aarohi Education Steering Committee is an informal body of 10 members. It convenes twice year. On 8th November 2014, the 2nd Steering Committee Meeting for 2014 was held at Aarohi offices.

Main points of discussion and action points:

  • Revisit the ‘vision’ and ‘mission’ of ABS. Keeping up with its growth pattern and overall development issues in the region, a need was felt to revisit the founding guidelines for this initiative.
  • Shape and conceptualize Aarohi’s overall education initiative with respect to the needs of the region. Four main points were discussed-

-Streamline processes and effect better academic performance of students at ABS.

-Collaborate with government and other private schools in the region in order to provide quality education to more children in the region. The focus of this intervention shall be early learning and primary education.

-To increase community involvement in the education of their children.

- Finally, to continue expanding ABS infrastructure in order to make available facilities for use by other schools and community at large, in the region.

 New Appointments

 Education Co-coordinator

Rachana RK joined Aarohi as the new Education Coordinator in June 2014. She holds a Masters degree in Social Work. She will be responsible for overall management of ABS and time to time will also assist in our education expansion efforts.

 Primary School Principal

In an effort to restructure ABS administration, in addition to the Principal and Vice Principal, we now have a separate Principal for Kindergarten and Primary School. Neema Rajput has been teaching class 2 at ABS for many years now and has also recently qualified professionally as a teacher by attaining her B.Ed (this a professional qualification granted by the government of India). In addition to teaching class 2 students, Neema shall be responsible for overall management of teacher and student performances at Kindergarten and Primary School.

Neema- our new Primary School Principal
Neema- our new Primary School Principal
The students at ABS
The students at ABS
Art Festival on Children
Art Festival on Children's Day- 14 November
Independence Day celebrations
Independence Day celebrations
Sports Day at ABS
Sports Day at ABS

 Hello again everyone! 

Summer is a very busy time at Aarohi Bal Sansar (ABS) with volunteers. Our school welcomes volunteers from several backgrounds ranging from trained teachers and educationists to artists, musicians and sports professionals.

One such volunteer this summer was Gina Ali Khan. Gina is head of English Language Acquisition at the Mercedes Benz School in Pune, India. Gina spent most of her time in working with our Primary School teachers in curriculum development and lesson planning. Attached is a note from Gina about her time in ABS. Attached is also a poignant letter from Dharampal, an ABS teacher, to Gina. He talks about the importance of dedicated volunteers at ABS and how interacting with professional teachers gives teachers in a remote place like Satoli, an invaluable learning opportunity.

 In all this time, we also added a new computer room to our existing facilities. Now the students have access to better machines and broadband at school. The principal too, Taraduttji, finally has a room to himself. You will see him proudly sitting in his new office in the photos attached.

 I would also like to introduce our new education coordinator, Rachana. Rachana joined us in June and is responsible for managing our education interventions. Soon, she will be connecting with you all for future reporting.

 As always, should you want any more information about our work, utilization of donations or have any suggestions or feedback, please do not hesitate to write to Rachana at edu@aarohi.org or me at sheeba@aarohi.org.

With much gratitude, 

On behalf of everyone at Aarohi, 

Sheeba


Attachments:

Hello to you all!

It has been two months since I was in touch with you last. I hope wherever in the world you are, the summer sun is shining bright, unless if you are in Delhi where it is a scorching 47 degrees!! 

Last time I had reported about the charity bike ride and sent you all the annual budget for our school. This time you will see attached our Annual Review for the past year. It will also give details of all the donations we have recieved through Global Giving till March 31 2014. If you find a moment then do have a look- it will give you a complete picture of all our work done in the past year towards development in rural Kumaon. 

Should you have any questions/suggestions/queries please do not hesitate to contact me on sheeba@aarohi.org. 

with warmest regards, 

Sheeba Sen


Attachments:
Charity Bike Ride Photos
Charity Bike Ride Photos

Dear Aarohi supporters,

This report is a rather special one. May I express our deepest gratitude to all of you for helping us reach the $20,000 target we had set ourselves when we posted this project just five months ago. Yes, you’ve read it correct- we are fully funded in just five months!! A big Thank You to all of you for being so forthcoming and generous. We are simply thrilled. The achievement has been so immense that we have been informed by GlobalGiving that they’ve never had an organisation which has made such efficient use of Fundraiser Pages and fundraised so successfully. I quote:

On Sat, Apr 19, 2014 at 1:42 AM, Jenn Masutani <jmasutani@globalgiving.org> wrote:

How are you doing? I hope this finds you well. We at GlobalGiving wanted to congratulate you on your successful use of Fundraiser pages! We've never had an organization use the Fundraiser pages as effectively as you before. This is really an amazing feat, and we'd love to learn from your organization and share your tips and strategies with other organizations. Would you mind sharing with us how you managed to utilize Fundraisers and promote them so successfully?

Congrats again!

Best,

Jenn Masutani

Many of you have donated through sponsoring our Charity Bike Ride fundraisers Rohit, Arun and Oya. Some of you have also donated through David who has chosen to support us as a part of his journey for charity in India. Still others who have donated because you found us on the internet, you’ve known about our work from the past, you’ve visited us in the mountains or simply because we asked you for help! All of you have given us a fabulous start and we only hope our work is inspiring enough for you to want to support this ongoing project. I would also like to add here that our charity bike riders did fabulously well and put in their sweat and blood to complete the circuit. Rohit and Arun were the proud ones to conquer the King of Kumaon Challenge (a three peak climb challenge in addition to the ride circuit) and Oya was the only woman out of four others to complete the ride. They asked you to support them and they kept their word.

Read below for a synopsis on  what we have fundraised for, why we need these funds from you and how the funds will be utilised. If you have any questions at all or wish to know more about our work then do write to me at sheeba@aarohi.org and I will aim to get back to you at the earliest. We are also in the thick of our annual review which shall be complete by end of May. I will send you a copy so that you are able to read about what we have been up to in the past year and how your donations will help us in sustaining our efforts.

AAROHI EDUCATION INITIATIVES

What do we do in Education?

As you may already be aware we have been working in Rural Kumaon since 1992. One of our main areas of work is in education. In 1994, Aarohi Bal Sansar (ABS) was established with just 2 little children from the village and one teacher. Today it is a full fledged middle school till class 8th. It is Hindi medium school (i.e. all subjects are taught in Hindi and English is taught as a second language.). It is government recognised though not government funded. It is run with the help of private donations from supporters like you. An important arm of ABS is Aarohi Youth Wing which is in its 4th year now. Through our Youth Wing we engage with the local young girls and boys through the medium of sport, though we wish to extend this engagement to other ways as well- for example career counselling, vocational training courses, livelihood promotion and so on. Please visit our website www.aarohi.org to read more about work in these areas.

Our project on GlobalGiving?

As you will see from the attached budget, we have a minimum requirement to ensure that we are able to sustain what we have built over the past 20 years. By fundraising on globalgiving we are hoping that individual donations like yours will help us in doing that.  The funds that we raise from you through globalgiving will be utilised according the attached proposed budget. Your contributions have a direct impact on the lives of 168 children in Aarohi Bal Sansar.

How will the funds be utilised?

Do study the attached proposed budget detailing the expenses for one year at ABS. Should you need any more detail or have any questions please do feel free to contact me on sheeba@aarohi.org

What has been happening since I last posted a volunteer’s account in January?

Sylvie More, a volunteer from the UK is currently volunteering with us at ABS. Here is her account of few of the activities at ABS in the past three months.

Sports at ABS – an account from Sylvie More

Participating in Aarohi Bal Sansar’s annual sports days during my first week in Satoli was a wonderful introduction to the school at which I will be volunteering over the coming months. The excitement, enthusiasm, team spirit, responsibility and sense of fun exhibited by the children and staff alike made a strong impression on me.

On Saturday 22nd March 2014 the mini ABS sports day for 3-7 year- olds took place under sunny skies. Pre- primary and primary children participated with enthusiasm in all types of races: sack race, skipping, marble and spoon, three-legged race and relay. However; my favourite had to be the jewellery and make-up race: both boys and girls threw themselves into the event with equal gusto –powdering their cheeks, applying lipstick and as a final touch placing a ‘bindi’ on their foreheads.

On Friday next, the rest of the school participated in the main sports event. During the week several heats took place as well as dedicated practicing of the “march past” and physical training exercises. Despite a forecast of rain, the day was similarly blessed by sunshine. Yet, despite the heat, proudly clothed in their new house- colour sports kits, the children competed with passion and determination. The morning saw a variety of running races in which ‘Aakash’ (Sky) House took the lead. Whilst in the afternoon, team events such as Kho-kho and Rassa-kassi (Tug-of-War) placed ‘Vasundhara’ (Earth) House just ahead of ‘Aakash’ to win the shield for the year. The competition was closely fought and all the hard work, training and support that were put in throughout the year on the part of both the children and teachers were evident. I was particularly impressed by the responsibility taken on by the children in the preparation and running of the events: cleaning and tidying up, marking out the pitches, elder children helping out the younger ones.

Needless to say, I am thrilled to be welcomed into such a wonderful school and hope that I will be able to contribute in some modest way.

Annual Report Card & Prize Distribution Day at ABS

It had been an industrious morning at the school on 31st March, the last day of the academic year, with children and staff cleaning and organizing classrooms as the new academic year would begin the next day. The children were all moving up a class following the distribution of report cards and prizes. There would be a new intake of pre-primary children into Lower Kindergarten and last year’s Class 8 students have been promoted and would leave school, leaving all their school mates and teachers with a deep sense of satisfaction and sadness as well.

The parents came to the school and listened to the principal talk about the school’s philosophy – holistic development of personality in a joyful environment – and the main activities of the previous year. Beautiful books and pens were distributed as prizes for overall academic achievement and best-in- the-subject prizes from Class 3 upwards, while all the younger children from Nursery to Class 2 received boxes of crayons, pencil boxes, big alphabet and number books. It was a festive and colourful occasion, with many faces beaming with pride.

Parents then collected their children’s report cards and discussed progress with their respective class teachers. The day ended with a parent-teacher meeting to review the previous academic year and to define a number of issues for the coming year such as school fees, uniform, books and stationary, school timings, discipline and nutrition.

Charity Bike Ride
Charity Bike Ride
Charity Bike Ride Photos
Charity Bike Ride Photos

Links:


Attachments:

The temperatures may have been dropping in the mountains but certainly not the spirits of our children at Aarohi Bal Sansar (ABS). November and December are busy months at ABS with several sports activities and volunteer visits. The constant efforts to ensure that children and teachers, both, have varied experiences in approaching the classroom lessons in a novel manner, continued. One of the highlights of the past three months has been the volunteer visit from the UK. Atul Pant, an educationist based in the UK visited ABS and conducted a workshop on animation and different ways to incorporate technology based tools in essons. Read below Atul’s experience in his own words:

Around 30 kms from Almora is village Satoli, where Aarohi is located. Aarohi is a not-for-profit grassroots organization, with the mission of creating development opportunities for rural Himalayan communities through quality healthcare and education, enterprise promotion, sustainable natural resource use, and the revival of traditional culture.

 I spent three days at a school run by Aarohi called Aarohi Bal Sansar (ABS). Agenda was similar to Jeevanshala – teach the kids basics of movie making and animation and demonstrate how these skills can be incorporated to deepen comprehension of curriculum by doing multimedia projects and creating e-portfolios.

 I was interacting with 50 plus students from classes 6, 7 and 8. We started by looking at how a series of stills can be made into a flipbook animation. Students then worked in small groups. Each group had 10 post-its and they had to create a short story that could be animated. For example, how, when a fat ball bounced it burst, or how a chick hatched out of an egg.

 All of us were sitting in a room and I thought I will give the students instructions in small doses. To my surprise, as soon as I had given the first set of instructions all the children ran out and spread out in the field. ABS is located in picturesque settings and in the distance one can see the snow clad Himalayan peeks. It was a sunny day and it is usual for ABS children to have their classes outdoors. Lucky guys!

 After they had finished sketching and painting each group used a free stop-motion app to create simple animated stories. One group could not create a story because they could not agree on a topic! Later, with the entire group, we had a very interesting discussion on what makes collaboration tick and how conflicts in a group can be resolved. We also discussed parameters on which animations should be judged and deliberated briefly on how the animations could be improved in the next attempt. Empathetic collaboration and ability to self-judge and improve performance are very important life skills in today’s world. 

 The next activity was making a short video film on a topic that was being studied in class. Students put play dough and other material available to creative use and made projects on solar energy, amoeba, photosynthesis, how the internet works and more. Each group talked about their project for a few minutes. I recorded the same and made short videos.

 The final exercise was looking at how special effects are created in movies. I was carrying a green-screen and a morph suit and we made one student fly and attempted to make another into an invisible dancer. A bunch of enthusiastic girls role-played being TV news reporter and music show host. Using green-screen we then removed the background and added background effects like footage from cricket and Bollywood.

 I also interacted with some ABS teachers on how they could curate content online using computers and tablets and augment their classroom teaching. We looked at resources like Khan Academy, TED-Ed, apps and games.

 Two NID graduates, Manasi and Dhruv, who were volunteering at ABS were a big help. Manasi has taken most of the accompanying photographs. My thanks also to Mr Pradeep Gupta, who heads the ABS education initiative and who was also my extremely gracious home-stay host.

 ABS students were eager and enthusiastic learners and hence conducting this workshop was an exhilarating and hugely rewarding experience for me. ABS often gets visitors to interact with their students and how beneficial such exposure is was apparent in the children’s confidence and creativity.

Atul’s visit was yet another opportunity for our children and teachers to approach lessons in a new light, to think creatively and have a bit of fun! 

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Organization

Aarohi

District Nainital, Uttarakhand, India
http://www.aarohi.org

Project Leader

Sheeba Sen

District Nainital, Uttarakhand India

Where is this project located?

Map of Support a Rural School in the Himalayas