Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Rural Education- An Inspirational School

Rural Education- Bachehalli Doddi School, 
An inspiration to the world.

What can one say about remote village school in Karnataka, India? Not much at the best of times. Nestled in a corner of the world among small hillocks and swaying green trees where land is dry and challenging at the best of times, winding dirt paths of no particular name or description lead to Bachehalli Doddi. Bachehalli Doddi, is a non-descript village of about 100 people, with no claim to fame, houses mostly laborers working on the farm land situated about 40 km from Doddamaduvadi, Kanakapura Taluk, Karnataka, India. The people do not even own a piece of land to their name. One can't expect much here by any stretch of the imagination.
A small hillock near Doddamaduwadi, Kanakapura Taluk, Ramanagara District, Karnataka State, India near where Bachehalli Doddi village is located.

The School

Travel closer to the village and visit the school and your entire paradigm of thinking gets turned on its head. Here lies the school which can inspire anyone who is interested in rural education all over the world. I had the unique opportunity to visit this school few months ago due to generosity of members of Scared Trust, a small non profit trust run by Dr. Vasudev. I will let picture speak for themselves along with my narrative.

Bachehalli Doddi has developed its school,a government school with little or no resources, hardly visited by politicians and has about 120 students. The school teachers are inspiration in themselves. I met Mr. Dhanajaya who is one of the teachers of the school and Mr. Suresh the President of the village panchayat (village governance body) who are the main architects of this inspirational school. The teachers and the village panchayat have taken a strong proactive step towards recognizing the children of the village as their future. Mr. Dhanajaya and his cohorts scout the internet for various ideas, find local resources, raise money from the parents and the villager panchayat and implement projects. No dearth of good ideas here.

This school is a model of how parents, teachers, village panchayat when working together can take the future of their children in their own hands, (not leave it for any government or the minister to decide) and do the extraordinary task of educating their children and prepare them for the mianstream modern India. I met three young boys who have now completed year 10 from the school which has been an achievement of the school. These young people are aspirational youth of the future of India. They aspire to go to the university and educate themselves. The major question is who is there to assist them to achieve their aims. Yes much of the policy is written on papers however if the family does not have the capability to send a child to Bangalore how can they do that? Education may be free in a far away place however not all are capable of staying in those places. Majority of the young men and women of India have an additional responsibility of being the earners for the family too. Unlike their counterparts in the urban areas they can not leave their villages where their laboring incomes or labor in the fields can not be sacrificed by their parents and family.

Over 52% of the Indian population is in the rural areas and majority of these are youth and they need a vehicle for their interests and aspirations. Indian government is catering to the urban youth but not to the rural youth and this will create problems in the future. Rural youth education needs tailored locally adaptable rural solutions not urban dictated policies and irrelevant schemes to pretend to provide non existent employment.

Bachehalli Doddi School is one example of how the village is catering to the aspiration and talent of its students and with its limited resources trying to encourage talent of the students. Gandhi said that Indian heart beats in the villages of India. Yes Bachehalli Doddi is one such village where the heart beat is strong, intelligence is high and initiative is even higher. As you enter the school you will be astounded by the cleanliness of the school. Walk further into the school you will be encountering number of paintings on the brick compound wall of the school.
School Entrance adorned with painting of
Indian Independence fighters

Walking into the school one can't but notice
the oasis of cleanliness

Kitchen to be proud of with local artistic murals
painted by the children of the school

Yoga Mural painted by students of the school

School Hall with village scene paintings

The Environment

Students portraying a very strong environmental message to show how carbon dioxide emissions are polluting

Composting of school waste by the students

Drip Irrigation of garden

Recycling of water bottles to grow plants

Rain water harvesting from the roof tops 
to water garden and use it for general purposes

Modern Teaching - at its heart

The teachers conduct question and answer sessions each week on a Friday. The concept is to help all children to ask questions and to develop their curiosity for learning. Students can ask questions and place them in a question box. This allows the most timid of the students not to fall behind in learning. The teachers answer their questions.

Question box for Question and Answer sessions by the student-teachers each Friday

Mr. Dhanjaya (left) and Mr Suresh (Village Panchayat President, right)- Inspired Leaders

This computer center was donated by The Sacred Trust which has been educating children of the rural villages in Kanakapura taluk with computers donated by various MNCs and these computers are put to good use as The Scared Trust employs 3 teachers under the guidance and leadership of Dr. Vasudev and these teachers travel to each of the centers and teach kids and have summer camps etc which allow every village child to take opportunity to learn how use computers for word processing, Excel spreadsheet, photoshopping etc. This extraordinary school did not have any UPS for managing the problem of power cuts. However now it has been addressed.
Computer center donated by The Scared Trust with Mr. Narayana a computer teacher

Audacity of Hope

What was so inspiring was these people from such as small community not only understand the value of education, but save up their money to raise funds to buy books and pencils etc for children and then fund the activities of the school to encourage their children. 

They do not whinge about class sizes and electronic gadgets. They dont wait for government or NGO handouts. They do not protest in the streets of Bangalore for better facilities, they do not beg anyone for anything. These proud self sufficient people are making the most of all the resources they have, add value to these resources through contributions both money and in kind and put in their sweat-equity and have supported the teachers. They have only sought handup.

The village Panchayat leader is only educated up to year 7 however he has no shortage of intelligence to understand that the children of the village are the future of the country and they need to be part of the growing mainstream economy of India. He has supported the teachers in their efforts fully. These kids no doubt will one day contribute significantly to India and perhaps the world. 

In my mind just by doing what it is doing, Bachehalli Doddi and its school have contributed to the world. Here in lies the "Audacity of Hope" President Barack Obama talks about. The inspired leadership of the youth of India President Abdul Kalam speaks about is alive here. 

May the tribe of these courageous villagers who take their future in their hands and inspire their children, village increase. I for one is very proud of their achievements among such adversity.

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