Countdown to Pragati’11 – Vibha Pune Action Center’s Initiatives

This series of posts is leading to Pragati ’11 – a two day project wide conference to be organized by Vibha in Pune, India. This particular post is written by Alija Sule, a volunteer with Vibha Pune.  Alija is currently a third year Graphic Design student at the MIT Institute of Design.

It is rightly stated that India is a country of paradoxes. On one hand India is home to some of the richest people in the world, whereas on the other, a majority of its population lives below poverty line. While the number of IIM and IIT graduates is increasing every year, it fails to provide even the basic primary education to millions living in the rural India. Even as malls spring up almost everyday to satiate the demands of the consumerist and materialistic urban crowd, most live amidst a muddle of a failing infrastructure. Inspite of recording a GDP growth rate of 7.7%, one third of the population still cannot read.

At the grass root level, the education scenario seems grim. The Government’s efforts at increasing the literacy rate at the rural level through programmes like Community Block Development have been met with serious political, economic and social issues. Quality of education provided is also a major concern. Teaching methods are often obsolete and not up to the mark, which result in a lack of interest. Monetary troubles further accentuate this. Lack of infrastructure, qualified teaching staff, learning equipment seems to widely exist. To fill such loopholes in the education system formulated by the Government, quite a number of NGO’S have stepped forward in the recent few years, Vibha being one of them.

Vibha continuously strives for the educating the underprivileged children; and in its endeavour to achieve the same, is actively involved with around 200 projects in India as well as the US. The organization is managed through volunteers’ action centres located in 20+ cities. Vibha Pune Action Centre will host Pragati ’11 – a project wide conference for Vibha supported organizations and entrepreneurs. In January, 2008 Vibha launched its action center in Pune with an intention to create a volunteer movement in India that will take forward Vibha’s mission. It started with just 3 volunteers and now there are more than 50 Volunteers. The group comprise of energetic and enthusiastic people from all walks of life, brought together by a strong belief that they can positively impact the future of India. The volunteers organize events, drives and campaigns in Pune and create awareness about the cause as well as raise much needed funds to support grass root projects benefiting underprivileged children. To maximize the impact, projects from all possible spheres of influence that can affect an underprivileged child are selected.

This post covers two such projects namely the DSS (Door Step School) and Rachana, being currently managed by volunteers at Vibha Pune. Both projects attempt to overcome social hurdles and strive to create an atmosphere conducive to delivering quality education at the grassroots level.

Door Step School:

Aware of the lack of facilities and general nonchalant attitude, that is a barrier in the process of education of children living in labour camps or at construction sites, DSS as the name suggest takes education to the door step of such kids. The project benefits children in the age group of 2-15 and conducts three programs on site-

1)      Balwadi, or a playschool for toddlers where learning meets fun.

2)      NFE (Non Formal Education) – imparts basic math and language skills. Once kids graduate from the NFE, they are admitted into a mainstream school after a qualifying exam.

3)      Study support schools- helps kids keep up with the mainstream school curriculum, since most of them come from poor and illiterate families.

Over the years DSS has been thriving and has benefited over 4168 children, with increasing support and awareness from the parents of such kids and also the local construction companies.

Rachana-Integrated Development Initiative for Rural Children

Rachana aims at improving the quality of education by overcoming the problem of school drop outs and inadequate community support for education. The program benefits students from 7-18 years of age and consists of four main aspects:

  1. Non Formal Education for School Dropout girls
  2. Integrated development for adolescent girls
  3. Pre-primary education for children deprived from formal education
  4. Supportive education for primary school-going children

Rachana uses improved and interactive learning methods to make it more appealing to the students.  Vocational training and workshops on varied social, cultural, political subjects for students of higher secondary are a part of the same as well. Rachana has helped over 1285 children and has successfully dealt with various issues related to child’s education.

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