From grinding poverty to graduation

 
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Mamta
Mamta

My name is Naresh Sir and I am in charge of the education programme here at People First. As you know it it is one of our priorities to help and encourage as much as we can the education of girls and for this report I thought I would let just one of them tell their story to you. We have changed the name but nothing else.

Namaste my Dear Friends,

My name is Mamta and I read in Dhobi school in class 8, all our education is provided free and I love my school. Before People First started our school many children of my age (I think I am about 14), just did not go to school at all. Now some girls from my school have gone onto college and I would love to do that also, It is because of the opportunities programme which you have supported I might just get that golden chance.

 I am the first girl in my family to be educated, when my parents tried to get me married the headmaster came to my house and spoke to my parents and now they understand and are pleased with my progress.  We are very poor, we have no land but my education has given me hope.

Thank you for your support, I won’t let you down, I will always do my best!

I love my school,

With greatest respects,

Mamta

 Please mark July 15th as Bonus Day in your dairy , your donation will go much further!!!

Girls at Dhobi School
Girls at Dhobi School

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All students passed their school leaving exam
All students passed their school leaving exam

Hello  Everyone,

I am Naresh Sir the Director of Education here at People First.

It's the beginning  of summer here in Bihar but so far we have been spared the blistering heat.

I want to say it saddens us how the state system has failed so many children and young people here in Bihar. Unqualified teachers , incompetent teaching, corruption, cheating.  What a waste of all that talent and potential!

We strive for high standards in our schools and there are very good and expensive (well out of the reach of the poor) private schools , but just because our reach is  limited compared to all of Bihar, it does not devalue what we can do.

It is better to do what you can and help those you are able, then to do nothing at all .  Just one students success in gaining a good education may not change the system in Bihar but it changes everything for that child and his or her family.  

Everything.

Not only for them but for all their children and their children's children in future generations, and as this is the 28th report I am writing supporters will be aware of our many success stories often told by the students themselves.

This is because of your help , there is a saying save  one child and you save the world. Please help us make all the difference in the world to a student today.

The photograph shows students from our school in Dhobi, (offering as with all our schools free education to the poor ) with thier school leaving examinations as every student passed.

Thank you so much,

Naresh

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Pramilla
Pramilla

Hello  Everyone!

My name is Naresh Sir And I am Director of Education at People First. I would to thank once again for all your marvellous support. Well, I hope you all you enjoyed the festive season. 

I thought it time you heard from a girl helped by the programme, so I asked" Pramila" (see picture above but  name changed) to write a little about herself for this report. it was written in Hindi and translated but not a single word was changed apart from the name.Here is her open letter to you all..

Namaste! respected persons of great repute,

My name is Pramilla. 

I am about 13 years of age , but I do not know my birthday or birth year. My father is a farmer, we have a little land and I have 3 brothers and two sisters, but I am the first girl in my family to go to school above class 5. I am in class seven . I am so lucky , without the help from people first and the support they give it is very unlikely that I could be here in my classroom, writing to you.

I think it is only right that girls should have same chance as boys, do you know there are villages in Bihar where the local village council  do not want girls to dress in western dress or have a  mobile phone of their own. It is not like that here. We are being educated and therefore we would fight against such ridiculous notions from men. Education awakens us in more ways than literacy or counting and mathematics.

Your help for this programme does reach  to girls like me, without it I could not afford school uniform or books or any tuition this is provided to me free of any cost, so  thank you and please continue to reach out and take the hands of girls like me..

Your student,

Pramilla

 

Links:

Santosh Kumar
Santosh Kumar

Hello Everyone! 

I hope you are well and that all your family are well too.

This report contains a students story, 

As you know our TOP scheme ( The Opportunity Programme)  is not limited to academic ability, but the selection process involves recommendation by teachers , an interview and is very competitive.  We asked Santosh Kumar one of our TOP students to write his story for this  report. Here it is..

"I was born in Bodhgaya, and my family were very poor but I was always interested in my studies, and attended the nearest people first school  from an early age. I had to work at my families market stall selling hats and belts to the tourists and when my father became ill , I had to work even harder.

It was really tough but I am so thankful for all the help and support I got from everyone at People First . I struggled hard, often working late into the night by the light of a lantern, but in-between the market stall and taking responsibility as the oldest son for my father's care, I managed to pass the school leaving examination and I applied for a People First scholarship under the TOP scheme to study full time in Delhi.

My father had improved in his health but there is no way we could afford any kind of further education without help. I got that help , and was able to graduate with a full Diploma in the Spanish language and now I work for an engineering  firm with contracts in South America. I may even be working for a while in Venezuela soon.

 Thank you for all my sponsors , Global Giving,  and everybody here at People First in India for everything you have done for me". 

Santosh Kumar

Please help us change young peoples lives for the better forever.

Naresh Sir ( Education Programme Director)

According to the rules we have changed Santosh's name for the purposes of this report but nothing else has been edited these are is his own words. 

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Ranjeet
Ranjeet

 

Hello Everyone.! I am Naresh, in charge of the education programme here at People First and it's time for a project update . I have asked Ranjeet one of our students, ( we have to change the name according to the rules because we cannot give personally identifiable information),  but what he has written in Hindi and translated is completely unedited.

Namaste. (Greetings)

My name is Ranjeet, I am 17 years old and I have a People First scholarship at Gaya College , and I am studying science.  I come for a village where People First has a school and they have educated me without any cost for me and my family for over 10 years. We are extremely poor, but with my education that will change. But I think you know that People First has this programme, I think you know how wonderful and successful the programme is, how it helps so many students like me to change their lives.

I want to tell you all just what the situation is here for poor students who have to rely in government education, unless like me they are very lucky, and others help them through the goodness of their hearts .

Here in Bihar the government recruited thousands of teachers to fill in the shortages particularly at primary schools  and here's what happened, we discussed this news article in our regular monthly  student meeting with Naresh Sir and others, Its from the BBC dated 15th July 2014.

When authorities in India's Bihar state began a mass recruitment of primary school teachers in 2003, many believed it would lead to an improvement in the quality of education.

Bihar's primary schools did not have enough teachers, so the new recruits were welcomed.

To fill in the hundreds of thousands of vacancies, the appointment rules were relaxed - the teachers were hired on presentation of degree certificates verified by the city or village council officials and they did not have to write any competitive examination.

Known as "contract teachers", these new recruits are paid just 25% of a regular teacher's salary of 40,000 rupees ($666; £389) a month.

More than a decade later, things look relatively better on paper - some 417,000 teachers, a majority of them (362,000) hired in the last decade, are employed with 73,000 primary schools.

But the reality is much grimmer: news washed up recently that more than 20,000 of the new recruits had forged their degree certificates to get their jobs. Authorities have already dismissed 779 teachers after investigation.

Senior education department official Ram Sharnagat told the BBC that they had received complaints against 52,000 teachers for submitting fake certificates.

"We will conduct a thorough probe and those who have forged their certificates will lose their jobs," state Education Minister Brishen Patel said.

Rising corruption

This is not the first time that such a scandal has hit school education in Bihar: some 15,000 teachers were dismissed in December 2008 for providing forged certificates.

That's not all. Education in Bihar is beset with several other problems too. Consider this:

  • Over 60,000 primary schools are running without full-time principals.
  • Last month, more than 50 principals in Kaimur district were suspended after they were found guilty of misappropriating funds meant for building classrooms.
  • Last year, more than 10,000 primary school teachers were dismissed after they failed a mandatory competency test. These teachers failed to name the president of India and the planet closest to sun, among other things, in the test.
  • In 2011, authorities detected two million "ghost" admissions in schools - students took admissions to more than one school to avail state benefits like free bicycles and uniforms.
  • Some 2,800 primary schools in Bihar don't have a single classroom, and 10% of the schools have only one classroom.
  • In July last year, 23 primary students died after consuming contaminated free mid-day meals.

No wonder, say experts, Bihar has the lowest literacy rate in India - 63% against the country's average of 74%. It also has a poor teacher-student ratio with one teacher for every 63 students, against the recommended national average of one teacher for 40 students.

Many of the schools have no classrooms

No wonder then that a primary school teacher in Samastipur district was caught on camera by a local news channel a few years ago telling students that there were 360 days in a year and that Patna - the capital of Bihar - was the Indian capital.

She also spelt January as Junuary, apple as Apil, and education as adukesun.

There's a lot more I could tell you, according the official auditor of the Indian government were sent false figures by the Bihar government in which they reported many more children were at school then there were actual children according to the very recent census, by a large margin.

My country is progressing.

Especially in other States. I am proud to be an Indian.

But please remember things are  often not as they are reported and the need for this programme sadly is as great as it has ever been. Thank you so much for your help, and please help spread the word about this life changing programme.

Your obedient student,

Ranjeet

 

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Project Leader

Nick Hansen

Project Liason Officer
Dhobi Gaya Rd Bodhgaya, Bihar India

Where is this project located?

Map of From grinding poverty to graduation