Oct 20, 2016

Aarohi Bal Sansar School Uttarakhand

GLOBALGIVING PROJECT REPORT

Submitted on October 20, 2016

 

Our NGO school, Aarohi Bal Sansar (ABS), is a Hindi medium primary school from Kindergarten till Class 8. The children come from economically weak sections of the society, and they are mostly first generation learners.  The families are rural – either farmers or daily wage earners.  The women here form  the most vulnerable sections of the rural mountain communities, married early they proceed into a life of frequent pregnancies and child births, are subject to a host of social and nutritional prejudices during menstruation, pregnancy, childbirth and lactation.  They continue to have a relentless back-breaking schedule of looking after their families, home, and farms including 4-5 hours of manual labor- head loading water, fodder, firewood, and dry leaf litter.  The annual income for these families ranges from as low as Rs 12,000/- to the highest being about 1 Lakh per annum.

 

Aarohi Bal Sansar (ABS) school survives mainly on private donations.  We presently have 157 students (78 girls and 79 boys) enrolled from 14 of the remotest villages of the mountain state of Uttarakhand in India.  ABS has come a long way over the past 2 decades and we try our best to strike the right balance between academics, sports, cultural and co-curricular activities leading to the 'holistic development of children in a joyful learning environment'!

 

Our students were kept busy all the summer months with lots of co-curricular activities, art and subject workshops, and were provided an intellectually stimulating environment to grow, learn and think!

 

These past few months we worked intensively with our 16 school teachers to provide them with training in the form of capacity building workshops.  We investment in teaching-learning methodologies and professional development workshops so we can provide high quality education.  Although there is a government school in almost every village in the mountains, the quality of the education provided gives little chance for improved livelihood options. Rote learning and standard examinations do not give children the space to develop critical thinking skills and lead to a high dropout rate. 

 

Shared below is a feedback we received from our school teachers on the progress made by the ABS students.

 

  Focused remedial work with lagging behind learners, was a common achievement experienced by most.

  Positive behavioral changes in learners – like being honest about what they understood and what they struggled to understand.

   Improvement was seen in children’s ability to express and respond.

   Learning engagement through the use of project work.

   In the lower classes, changes were observed in children’s everyday behavior, the way they dressed, their sitting posture and a positive transformation noticed in their overall attitude towards school and learning.

   Development of reading fluency was another significant area where many teachers felt a sense of accomplishment.

 

Some of the key challenge areas where they coped with are shared below:

 

Learners

  • Lack of seriousness
  • Lack of attention
  • Retention
  • Understanding of values
  • General lack of interest in education

 

Internal

  • More focus needs to be put on the reinforcement of previously learnt topics and concepts
  • Hesitation
  •  Lack of practice of newly learnt methodologies
  • More efforts are required  to  self learn

 

External

  • Absence or lack of family support
  • Relationship between the school and parents/teachers and parents
  • Availability of textbooks
  • Lack of external support and exposure
  • Admissions in the middle of the year

 

 

 

Jul 22, 2016

Aarohi Bal Sansar- January 1 to June 30 2016

EDUCATION SECTOR UPDATE- JANUARY TO JUNE 30, 2016

The year 2016 started with winter vacation- school was closed in the month of January. The next couple of months were busy in school, with the syllabus getting completed in February and the final examinations in March.  Before the close of the academic session the school celebrated its annual sports day. 

 The new academic session started on April 5, 2016.  Update on student & teacher statistics for the new session is below.

  •  Total of 149 students – a decrease of 10 students from  last year (a cause of concern, and the reasons are diverse- an important factor is perhaps the upgraded local Government school in the same village).
  • There are a total of 73 boys and 76 girls this new session.
  • Staff strength reduced to 19 full time members – this includes a Principal.
  • January- June 2016, six teachers have moved on- relocation, securing a high paying Government job and one of our staff member was awarded a prestigious fellowship award were some of the reasons for this move.
  • We hired 3 new full time teachers.

 Academic Performance

We had 240 days of teaching in the last academic session. We observed a marked improvement in our students' writing, listening, and reading skills in language learning. The academic achievement for the core subjects of Hindi, Maths and English are below.

  •  80% of students from class 1-8 scored above 50% marks in Hindi. Of this 26%scored between 71-85%, and 18% were extraordinary performers and received marks in excess of 85%.
  • 68% of our students from class 1-8 scored above 50% in English.  Of this 25%scored between 71-85% marks, and 13% obtained extraordinary scores-above85% marks.
  • 67% of our students from class 1-8 scored above 50% in Maths.  Of this 23% scored between 71-85%, and 17% were extraordinary- scored above 85%.

 School Administration

We launched the ABS School calendar in April.  The calendar tracks the school’s activities- working days, holidays, events, projects, workshops and monthly Parents Teachers Meeting (PTA), and School Management Committee Meetings (SMC) for the entire year.

School Bus Update

Seeing a sharp drop in new admissions this year, we decided to start a taxi service to the nearby villages to pick up and drop students.  We have 30 children using this facility since May 1, 2016.  The taxi picks up children from the villages of Diyari,Peora, Kumati and Kaphura.  The response has been over-whelming and we started another taxi in July, from the villages of Chhatola, Sitla, Satkhol and Dobatiya- covering the other direction.

Sports Facilities

We received a large grant from Helping Elsewhere Foundation, UK and the Mercedes Benz International School (MBIS).  This grant was specifically donated towards purchase of baby scooters, kick scooters and tricycles; we used a small part of this fund (with permission from the donors) to purchase other sports equipment- i.e., badminton rackets, shuttle cocks, cricket bats, tennis balls, football and volley balls.  Our school sports and youth wing activities have received a huge boost now!

Co-Curricular Activities

Alongside settling into the rhythm of academics, the children were exposed to a series of educational, creative, and artistic co-curricular activities.  The first in line was Atul Pant’s science workshop, which was an extension of his ‘tinkering’ workshop conducted at ABS in December 2015. The entire activity of tinkering made our children think and collaborate and learn some essential life skills. Next in line was the butterfly workshop, conducted by Peter Smetacek, a leading expert on Indian butterflies. He gave an entertaining presentation to the students- demystifying everything about butterflies, took them for a nature walk and got them acquainted with local species and other flora and fauna and then taught our children how to make some stunning origami. In early May, we had Puranjay, Sakshi, Hemant and Raiva- all young and talented students from Delhi come down to teach our students to make shelves, coffee tables and other craft items. Later, the same month we organized 2days of art workshops. ‘AkkaBakka’, a New Delhi based team of 3 artists worked with our children and teachers to create a fun-filled and visually creative feast!

 The month of May ended with computer workshops by the enthusiastic team of Gautam, Ashutosh and Dharmendra from Quovantis- a software company. They spent time introducing our children to HTML programming and then later introducing our teacher to e-learning videos to aid their teaching.

 Teacher Training & Professional Development

Renu Sharma came on board in February this year, working part-time (3 days a week), as our Education Consultant. Renu comes with expertise in primary and middle school education in the field of language learning and enhancement. She has previously worked with an NGO called Pratham for several years with their “Read India” campaign. She has been actively involved in our teacher capacity building workshops, and introducing innovative and interactive teaching methodologies. Her presence has greatly assisted in stabilizing systems related to curriculum, collaborative planning and teaching, child-centered classroom activities, long term and everyday planning, maintaining of resource files, teacher mentoring and student and teacher evaluation.

 In January 2016, four teachers were selected for the ‘Saral Tandon Award’. Theselection was based on their appraisals and performance. The top performers were Kamla Bisht, Neema Rajput, Poonam Bisht and Kumari Vimala. They spent a week in Mumbai and visited schools like Zaya Learning Center which uses technology to enhance student interest and learning as well as to support teachers in their classroom teaching. Akanksha, Muktangan, and the American School were other schools they visited, and also interacted with teachers. This award has proved to be a great motivation for our teachers to be more creative and innovative in their work.

 Volunteers

ParibhashaYadav: Paribhasha, a vibrant 17 year old volunteered with us over a period of 2 weeks working on creating a template for ABS’s first ever community newsletter, teaching poetry to our children and putting a together a skit on cleanliness with children of class 8.

 Monika Shukla: Monika spent 2 months with us in school, helping us review the early child curriculum and goals for the kindergarten- LKG and UKG.  She reviewed the curriculum for Social Studies for classes 6-8.  While she was here, Monika also supported Teacher training efforts in Lesson Planning and English teaching in the class rooms for classes 6-8. 

Rajshree Doshi:Rajshree is a coach for Senior Programme Managers at ‘Teach for India’ (TFI).  She also coaches principals at the Akanksha Foundation- they run the not for profit schools. Rajshree comes with an experience of coaching and mentoring teachers and Principals for almost 28 years. We were privileged to have her as a volunteer at ABS for 2 weeks! 

Asmita Joshi &Madhu Upadrasta: Were both together for a period of 10 days and worked exclusively on the library- reviewing & reviving the older system that was put in place.  They worked with teachers to coach them on the importance of creating reading habits among the students, and brainstorming with them on library activities and story-telling sessions!

ABS Staff New Joiners

  • Pradeep Rastogi started on April 1, 2016 as the class teacher for class 7.  Pradeep teaches Mathematics and Social Studies to classes 6, 7 and 8.  He comes with a total teaching experience of 10 years.  Pradeep enjoys sports, especially playing cricket.  In his free time, he loves teaching the neighborhood children, meeting parents and engaging with the local community.
  • Hema Bisht joined ABS on April 1, 2016.  She is the class teacher for class 5.  Hema teaches Environmental Studies and Science.  She has a total teaching experience of over 6 years.  Hema loves nature- feeding and taking care of stray dogs and enjoys pottering in her garden growing flowers and vegetables.
  • Geeta Joshi started with us on June 1, 2016.  She was earlier teaching in Kumati Primary school- classes 1 to 5, all the subjects.  She has a total work experience of 2 years.  Geeta’s father is also a school teacher.  She enjoys teaching Mathematics and also maintains the upkeep of our library resource centre.  Geeta takes a keen interest in getting computer literate and is spending time in our computer centre learning the skills.
Jun 14, 2016

Final Report- Request for Project Closure

Final Report – June 2016

Project Title: Reduce Infant & Maternal Mortality in the Rural Himalayas

Project Duration 4 years: 2012-16

Reason for Closure: Full funding received

 

Summary: The Arogya Health Project brings together training, awareness and treatment to reduce the number of mother and infant deaths, and improve the general state of well being for 30 remote villages in the Central Himalayas of India.

 

Challenge: Over half of the women living in mountain villages of Uttarakhand are severely anemic and malnourished. This along with a lack of health care services in the area results in alarming rates of maternal and child mortality and morbidity. The problem is further compounded by social taboos that often resort in extreme diet restrictions of pregnant and nursing mothers, endangering the health of the infant. Aarohi aims to change this trend through comprehensive community-based training and awareness.

Solution: This project provides extensive training for traditional birth attendants and local health workers (accredited social health activist) in antenatal and post-natal care, safe delivery, and comprehensive growth monitoring of children in the age group 0-3 years. Through Aarohi's mother and child care program, these community members are provided with a dignified livelihood, and are equipped with the skills, guidance and support needed to tackle high morbidity and mortality rates in their village communities.

Long-Term Impact: Going beyond simply providing services to remote mountains villages, the Arogya Project empowers traditional birth attendants and health workers (ASHAs) to improve the quality of health care in their own communities. This ensures that mother and child health is achieved in a sustainable way that provides local people with the knowledge and determination to continue providing services long after the project has ended. The proven result is fewer mother and infant deaths and healthier communities.

Achievements these past 4 years

 

-       Our outreach grewfrom 70 to 105villages in theCentral Himalayas

-       We trained 36health supervisors, 114 ASHAs and other health workers and 111 Traditional Birth Attendants,who now help to support health programs in their villages.

-       With the help of these trained workers, we have increased our antenatal checkup coverage (which includes one pregnancy consultation by a skilled care provider) from 49% to 88% of pregnant women.

-       Institutional deliveries has increased from 20% to 35%, geography of the area is a main obstacle to institutional delivery

-       Of the total patients receiving ultrasounds during the Medical Mobile Unit (MMU) camps, 68.2% were pregnant women. However, only 48% of the women return for a follow-up consultation and our goal moving forward is to increase the percentage of women who receive follow-up care throughout pregnancy.

-       Through the MMU,the number of women receiving antenatal care doubled from the first to the second half of 2015 (461 from January-June to 877 from June-December, for a total of1338 women).

-       Infant mortality was 57 per 1000 live births has reduced to 38 per 1000 live births likewise neonatal mortality has fallen from 36 deaths per 1000 live births to 29 deaths per 1000 live births.

 

Conclusion

In light of these successes, we seek to continue our grassroots approach to healthcare in rural Uttarakhand. In the next phase of this project, we will consolidate our coverage of remote and underserved communities by working jointly with the Uttarakhand government and other regional NGOs—strengthening current collaborative efforts and exploring new cost-effective ways to reach our goals.

 
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