Chandan lost both his parents at a very young age and had to drop out of school. Being the eldest, he had to shoulder the financial responsibility of his three younger sisters. We intervened and took responsibility of not only educating the four siblings but also took responsibility of their housing and other living expenses. Today, Chandan has completed school and drives the school bus to earn a living. He aspires to become a teacher and a mentor in the same school that once supported him after completing higher education.
Most of tribal India is economically challenged and stories like that of Chandan are rife. From establishing the first tribal school in 1999 we have come a long way. Every year, we provide free education to over 3000 first generation learners who otherwise would not have received any formal education.
Further, our schools have become hubs of rural development providing training in zero budget natural farming, conducting free medical camp and undertaking extensive tree plantations.
“Building a school is easy. Building a tribal child into a confident person who is capable to not just make a living but live a joyous life and be of service to the community, that’s a lifelong commitment for us.” – Brij Chawla, Director of our Tribal School Project
Today, there is a marked difference in these tribal villages and the mind-set of the students and their parents. Apart from increased literacy, there is a reduction in child labor, decrease in early girl child marriage in the villages and lesser incidents of early pregnancy and miscarriages.
Some of the schools have an equal number of girls and boys and the general attendance of students is close to 89 per cent – a rare feat for schools operating in tribal zones. In fact, the number of applications for admission is on a rise each year. On being asked what the students want to become when they grow up, their undoubted response is, “I want to become a doctor or a teacher and serve my own community.”
“It is very encouraging to see parents who have never gone to school lining up to get their children educated. The response of the parents is so overwhelming that we have decided to start classes for the adults too.” - Mitra Agarwal one of our Project Co-ordinator in Arunachal Pradesh.
areas in Jharkhand, West Bengal and Tripura
recieve free education every year
much lower that country average for similar schools
Our community initiatives like vocational training for parents, free medical camps, tree plantation drives and organic farming workshops have helped us to foster relationships with the community and creating a greater buy in.
The other testimony to effectiveness of our approach is that the students love coming to school. We believe in keeping the curriculum flexible and the school atmosphere free-and-easy. We lay special emphasis on sports, arts and crafts.
Despite using modern techniques to educate the children, our mentors do everything to maintain the cultural heritage of the tribe. The children are groomed into conscientious citizens with an attitude of contributing back to the community and the nation.
Creating infrastructure for schools and offering free education in tribal areas is just the beginning of the intervention. The challenge lies in making the intervention holistic by engaging with the parents and sensitizing them about the importance of education.
It is a consistent effort to instill discipline and commitment in both parents and children for them to continue attending the school. Despite setting up a dedicated teachers training institute, finding teachers who relate to the children’s ethos and who are ready to work in remote areas is one of the biggest challenges.
Our tribal schools have been very successful in initiating a change in these areas and creating the first generation learners. We are looking for partnership opportunities to expand the infrastructure and to manage operational expenses in these schools.