The following is a postcard from Neeharika Tummala, GlobalGiving's In-the-Field Representative in India, about her recent visit to Kalanjiyam Trust.
I never thought that I would do a site visit where I was supposed to visit toilets, but that is one of Kalanjiyam’s focus projects. Why? In many Indian government schools, the facilities are bare bones to non-existent, especially toilets which even if they exist are often not maintained. What Kalanjiyam identified is that girls tend to primarily drop out as there are no toilets and while boys can manage with nature, girls and their families are uncomfortable with that idea. Building toilets, which seems like such a small thing, provides basic necessities for encouraging girls to stay in school and study without stress. I am usually a little paranoid about walking into washrooms of public facilities, but I have to say, these were some of cleanest I have ever seen – all thanks to the lovely cleaning ladies appointed to the various schools. They cheerfully showed me around and I have to say, kudos to their great work in keeping the bathrooms clean – a step towards keeping kids in school.
Kalanjiyam is using its funds to strengthen one school after the other by providing such amenities. The second tier of strengthening schools is to add facilities such as computer labs, science labs and even kitchen gardens. As the funds roll in, more schools get access to such facilities and more kids benefits.
I visited several schools where I met students and staff. What I observed is that each class seemed to have a healthy number of students (between 18-30) and the absenteeism rate was quite low. One of the reasons is Kalanjiyam’s shadow staff, who offer after school supplementary tutoring, as well as get to school first and manage classes, in case the regular teachers are late. This provides support to the school staff as well as provides students the extra support for quality learning that they clearly need.
I heard from staff that several villages were forced to send their children to private schools because the public schools were in such poor condition. Now parents have an alternative in public education that is significantly more cost effective but also compares in the quality of education. That is amazing impact on the ground!
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