Dear Friends, Happy Holiday Season! Hope you are enjoying the holiday season. This year the winter has started a little later here but it is pleasantly cold right now. We hope it is also nice weather where you are. I am sharing the half yearly report (April to September 2010) which my colleagues have prepared for you with much enthusiasm and gratitude. With this letter we would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to you for all your support to this project. During these six months a lot of work was done and on many occasions the village communities and the students have come together to exhibit their solidarity on the issues of Education in our region. In the report one such incidence of village Chhali is narrated. I hope you will enjoy reading more about it. By September 2010 we were running 192 schools with 208 teachers. Total enrollment has been 5,703 with 3,310 boys and 2,393 girls. 227 teachers were enrolled for the certification course which is an in-depth training course for the teachers that Seva Mandir offers in the project you are supporting. However, this year, the village communities also selected some teachers from the Government Schools. This shows that the investments in teachers made by Seva Mandir are of great value in the local community and people are able to see positive impact on their children’s learning. More than 1000 children got enrolled in Government schools this year after graduating from Seva Mandir supported Rural Schools (SKs). We are very excited to share all the progress we have made. We believe that our success is your success. We are delighted sharing it with you and we hope you are also glad to hear about it. Thank you for being a wonderful partner to us. We hope to continue receiving your support as your contribution and support brings us a lot of strength and positive energy. Do consider to donate to us again and tell your friends about this project. Thank you very much once again. A small story at the end of my letter is given for your reference. I hope this holiday season is the best of all you have had so far. With warm regards, Deepti ------------- In Losing Dhana village the Government School was located 2 kms away. During monsoon it was even more difficult for children to walk to it as the stream in the village divided it into two halves. Considering these hardships the village community proposed to open a rural school in their neighborhood. Therefore, Seva Mandir supported the rural community to set up an SK in 2004. At present there are 22 children enrolled in the centre, including 11 boys’ and 11 girls. The SK is run by a local instructor, Premlata, who has studied till class 8th. She teaches children with lot of care and attention, and makes sure that the environment is child friendly and comfortable. One of the students at this centre is Meethalal Rawat (12 years old). He came to this centre in 2009. He had passed out of the Government school in Losing Dhana from class 5th, but could hardly read any letter in Hindi nor could count till 20. After 1 ½ years now at this centre he can now count till 100, can do basic mathematic calculations and read and write small sentences in Hindi. As per the instructor he is friendly to all his classmates and is much disciplined. He loves playing cricket and Kabaddi (Indian sport) too. Lakshmi (12 years old) another student at this centre also studied in government school till 4th class. After realizing that she has not learnt much in 4 years, her parents enrolled her with the SK in 2008. Now after spending 2 years her academic performance has improved drastically. She can read and write sentences, count till 100 and can do basic ma thematic calculations. She enjoys reciting poems in the class. She works hard and is very bright. She dreams to be a teacher in future.
This year the monsoon has turned out quite good. Our lakes are filing up with the rain water at the moment. Though the lakes are still empty a little bit; the people in the city are happy with the amount of water received. In villages, some streams are flowing and it is very beautiful and green everywhere. Since the rains have been good this year, people hope to have a good harvest of ‘corn’. Maize is the staple diet in our region.
With this letter, we are sharing a story of one of the rural schools. As you know your contributions to our rural school program is very significant. We are running 205 rural schools in remote rural areas for children between 6-14 years old. We are reaching out to 5000 children every year.
You must have read the progress report we had posted last time. The progress report indicates that not only do children get quality education in these rural schools but a deeper discussion around quality education gets initiated within the communities. In the report you could see how the local community is taking responsibilities of running these schools and in some cases demanding quality education from the government. It is also incredible to see children performing well and learning more and more day by day in these rural schools. This has all been possible because of support from people like you. So thank you very much for all your support and contributions. We very much hope you would be able to visit us someday.
Many thanks once again. We will keep you posted on our progress.
With warm regards,
“In Upli Sigri village there is a rural school and also a government school. Due to the inadequate number of teachers against the total number of children and also the insufficient space in the government school, most families in the village send their children to Seva Mandir supported rural school.
The instructor Ratan Lal Khekria at the rural school has completed a Masters degree in addition to a government certified teacher’s training (B.Ed) while working at the rural school. He is very motivated and teach with care and love to his students.
At this rural school, there are 65 children enrolled. The children attend the school regularly and around 15 children graduate from this rural school to the government school for higher studies every year. In order to get into the government schools, the children appear in an exam and if passed they get enrolled for higher studies.
Last year, Renuka from this rural school appeared in the exam conducted by the government school and passed with very good marks. She subsequently got admission in the coveted and prestigious residential government school “Navodaya Vidyalaya. She is now studying in class 6. It is a big honor for all of us since getting into Navodaya Vidyalaya is not an easy task. Renuka’s achievement lifted confidence of other children too in the village. Her parents too are very proud of the fact that their daughter made it and are happy for her. This year again, 4 students from Upli Sigri rural school have secured admission in the Navodaya Vidyalaya.
Greetings from Seva Mandir!
With this letter, I am very happy to share with you some news and updates about the program you have been supporting. As you may be aware, by January 2010 ‘Send a child to school in India’ was fully funded by Global Giving. This project first appeared on Global Giving in November 2007 and since then we have received a lot of support for it from people like you. So many, many thanks for your generous support.
In three years we have generated a total of approximately Rs. 4,950,065 ($110,001 or £70,715) from donors through Global Giving (USA & UK) for the NFE (Non Formal Education) program. Every one of us here is truly grateful to all your support over the past three years and we hope to receive your continued help for this project in the years to come. Non Formal Education Centers or Shiksha Kendra (SK) are an ongoing initiative which reaches around 6,000 school children (6-14 years of age) in the remote and tribal areas of Southern Rajasthan, India, every year.
Enclosed with this letter is a detailed report to share what we have been able to do with the funds received from you, and other donors, in this program. Even though the project went live in November 2007 on Global Giving, the report enclosed provides you with the details from April 2007 to March 2010, in line with our financial year structure.
I would like to present a brief summary of the report for those who would like to refer the more detailed report at their leisure.
Some figures at a glance –
1. By the end of March 2010, we had 201 NFE centers with 219 instructors and 5,612 children enrolled.
2. We have also seen an encouraging increase in women instructors (from 7 to 16 in the 2007 – 2010 review period).
3. From April 2007 to March 2010, we saw about 3351 new children enrolled across all the 201 NFEs/SKs.
4. In past 3 years a total of 2460 students have graduated to government schools.
5. The retention level of NFEs/SKs graduates to the Government Schools is as high as 84%.
The situation of schooling -
In all the areas where Seva Mandir works, children have little access to quality education. The conditions of schooling in tribal areas is often one of severe neglect, with high rates of teacher absenteeism, use of poor and old pedagogical methods, lack of learning materials, inadequate infrastructure, and above all, an apathetic atmosphere. Parents and communities in general are not able to get the government to address these issues. Their own poverty creates pressures to put every available hand to work. The supply and demand inadequacies compound each other and reduce the likelihood of a child going to or staying in a school. Often many children migrate either daily or seasonally for work.
Why NFEs/SKs -
In these circumstances, Seva Mandir-run NFEs/SKs aim to ensure quality education in remote rural areas to children who are out of school. These SKs are single teacher/instructor schools with creative and joyful classroom environments where studying is more than ‘reading and remembering’. Most of these instructors have studied only up to class 8 or 9. Therefore, a number of trainings and meetings are organized by Seva Mandir on a regular basis for them to enhance their capacities and to also boost their motivation levels.
Investments in teachers’ capacities-
The trainings and meetings are also very important because the NFE/SK classroom is constituted by children of various age groups (between 6-14 years) and learning levels. Therefore the instructor must know how to engage all children with their relative studies meaningfully. The instructors also learn organizing various activities and using different study materials to make learning for children enjoyable. The enclosed report will give you an in-depth description of the kinds of trainings has been imparted to these instructors. The enclosed report also contains numerous stories and anecdotes about the NFEs/SKs from the field.
English as the new subject –
There has been also a constant demand from the community and the teacher to teach English at the NFE/SK. Therefore we did a pilot in October 2007 to initiate the English Language Teaching (ELT). The results have been encouraging so far. The children and the teachers are quite excited about learning a new language. About 25 NFEs/SKs are teaching English to their students.
The community’s involvement –
The report also recounts incidences in which the local community has participated actively to ensure education for their children in the areas where a large number of children were out of school. In many cases the communities are supporting these NFEs/SKs financially or encouraging education by making contributions in kind. The parents pay a small token fee of Rs. 5 per month for their children attending the NFEs/SKs. In most cases, the community buys uniforms for their children attending NFEs/SKs with the fee collected every year. It is a very good ‘community work’ to encourage children’s education and show fraternity. A study conducted showed that most parents prefer paying the fee in one or two installments every year and are willing to pay Rs. 100 every year. Therefore, from now on the parents will be requested to pay their children’s fee in one or two installments.
It is also very encouraging to observe that the parent-teacher meetings have also become quite frequent, helping to build a good relationship between the two. We learnt that most parents are happy to attend these meetings and learn about their children’s progress. At times, parents would stop by at the centre to see how and what the instructor was teaching. The report enclosed gives stories of some emotional parents, delighted with their children’s desire to study.
Experiencing quality education and its impact-
It is also very encouraging to observe that these NFEs/SKs have been able to provide an experience to the local communities of quality education and a guarantee to parents that their children are learning how to read and write Such assurances have led some of these communities to demand quality education from the Government. Moreover, in many cases the communities have attempted to work with the existing system to improve the situation.
Overall, these NFEs/SKs are providing a platform for mutual learning for both the teacher and the students. The presence of these centers also motivates the community to think about the issue of ‘quality education’ and its role in ensuring it is available to all children. Those children who graduate from these centers outperform others in the government schools, due to the deep educational foundations they have gained from the NFEs/SKs, rooted in curiosity and a desire to learn, not mindless repetition. They have better comprehension skills, socialize better and are able to explore ideas and think independently.
The results of a good education are well known to us. However, what is really remarkable about this program is the relationships forged because of the program: the relationship between the teacher and his/her children; the relationship between the child and his/her parents; the relationship of the community as a whole with the instructor; the relationship of one section/caste of the community with the other section/caste and the relationship of the parents with the teacher. The report enclosed gives a detailed account of the impact the NFEs/SKs have had on various sections of society.
All of this has been possible because of the regular support and deep faith you and our other friends have put in us for all these years. The project is not just about ensuring education - together we have been able to invest in transforming thousands of lives not only in the rural areas of Southern Rajasthan. The program will continue to reach out to thousands of children and hundreds of teachers every year. We hope to connect you with many of these individuals every year with your continuing support to this program.
A very big thank you from all of us at Seva Mandir. We hope to keep building on this foundation and continue to transform lives and expand the dialogue around the issue of education. It would be an absolute pleasure for us should you ever visit us.
Many many thanks once again to all of you. We are very fortunate to have you with us on this important journey.
December 7, 2009
Many thanks to all of you for responding to our call of support during ‘Give More and Get More’ Challenge. We did quite well in the challenge and you would be happy to note that we stood third with receiving over $35,000 across various projects.
The funds are always helpful in continuing our work but that we can write to this community of supporters and rally support is very morale boosting. Thank you for your trust in us. We are truly grateful.
With best regards for the Holiday Season,
Thank you very much for all your support. It has been indeed very amazing to see how many of you realy beileve in supporting children's education in India. A very big thank you from all of us here.
Your donations will support several of rural schools or NFE (non formal education centers) meaning hunderes of children in our region would be able to go to schools for 1 year.
Just wanted to share with you a story which I enjoyed reading and I truly hope you will also admire the efforts put in by the teacher in Jharia Mude NFE.
I also would like to update you about some other interesting education programs. Currently we are running the second seasonal residential camp of this financial year. The seasonal residential camp is organized for working tribal children who have either dropped out from schools or have never been to schools. The children between 6-14 years who are not able to go to schools for socio-economic reasons, most often they support the family income by working as labourers. Hence these children can come to such seasonal camps and acquire some basic literacy skills. Every such child has to attend 3 such camps. The teaching method used in these camps is that of interactive and action based. We would be very excited to show you several of our programs, should you happen to visit us some day.
Many many thanks once again for your support, time and faith.
Non Formal Education Center: Jharia Mudi, Kherwada Block
There are 20 children enrolled in Jaria Mudi NFE. There are 3 children who came to this NFE after graduating from Seva Mandir Balwadi. The instructor Phulchand observes that “the children who have been to the Balwadi learn things easily in the NFE and they are also at much ease in interacting with other children because of their exposure in Balwadi (preschool)”.
Phulchand is a dedicated teacher and enjoys teaching his children. He says – “Teaching children while playing, drawing, with music and story telling is very easy. Children learn so much this way”. He has been quite successful in motivating the parents to send their children for schooling. When a child does not come to the NFE for more than four days then Phulchand tries to find out the reason for it. Phulchand says – “When this centre was opened many parents were not interested in education for their children. But talking with them on regular basis and seeing other children’s performances many parents are showing interest in sending their children to the NFE now”.
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