What do children do upon completion of the three-year Ekal Vidyalaya curriculum?
After completion of a three year program from Ekal Vidyalaya, children are well prepared to be part of formal schooling.
If formal school is not an option, they are encouraged to enroll in vocational training programs.
What is the role of Ekal when the government is investing in school programs?
Ekal model is not to replace the formal education model but to complement the same by inculcating interest of children in studying and curiosity to know. Being informal model, Ekal create interest as the model promote learning by doing which is an experiential learning.
When government schools are far away from the village it makes it difficult for young children to walk to the schools. In this case Ekal becomes the only option for the children. When the children are older and more capable to walk long distances, they are encouraged to attend formal schools
When there is a primary school close by, Ekal schools work to supplement the education. The focus of the Ekal schools is to create excitement for learning. The informal school model uses experiential learning (learning by doing) to make learning fun. This also works to promote curiosity in the children.
In addition to reading, writing and arithmetic, Ekal’s curriculum places emphasis on health, civic and value education that helps the children gain good life skills at an early age.
How is Ekal Abhiyan different from other organizations?
The focus of Ekal is the holistic development of rural and tribal India.
A grassroots PAN India movement with over 100,000 schools in the network.
The model is a bottoms up approach where the community is tightly integrated into the work of Ekal. The teachers and the workers at Ekal are from the local community.
The Ekal curriculum is localized incorporating all the local traditions and culture of the community we work in.
Our work is a unique blend of ancient traditions and modern developments in technology. Yoga and Ayurveda are used extensively as is Telemedicine and tablet based learning.
The movement is owned and driven by volunteers at every level.
There is complete transparency and accountability in terms of activities, financial management and impact.
A very low cost model suitable for rural conditions
How does Ekal help develop the people and the community?
Ekal schools make learning interesting and fun. The experiential form of learning creates a curiosity amongst students and immense interest towards learning.
Children are motivated to further continue their education.
Holistic way of learning ensures healthy growth of children without education seeming to be a burden.
Gramothan initiatives providing skill training and Arogya initiatives providing healthcare, ensure integrated village development which provide access to basic health services and opportunities for better livelihood.
Skill development centers such as tailoring centers and Computer Training Labs are helping young women and men earn decent livelihoods.
Women empowerment is a key focus for Ekal. Over 70% of our teachers are women. All our Arogya Sevikas are women. Our health initiative has placed a great focus on women’s health with a particular emphasis on eradication of Anemia
What is the secret of running Ekal Vidyalaya at a low budget?
It is a unique organization mostly run by volunteers with passion to serve rural and tribal communities. The mostly volunteer workforce helps keep the administrative costs to be less than 10%
We have no marketing budget. Outreach is entirely through word of mouth or by campaigns run by volunteers.
Involvement of the local village community to oversee and monitor the functioning of Vidyalaya makes it a viable model.
Teachers are from the same village
No expenditures on infrastructure development
As people in different committees are not financially supported, what drives them to continue and persist?
Volunteers are driven by passion to give back to society. They want to work for their own community. Spirit of service to the nation and humanity is ingrained in them by Ekal leadership
Volunteers are given ownership of projects. There is complete transparency in the system.
Decision making is decentralized. Volunteers are empowered to make decisions based on the guidelines provided to them
As the average teacher is typically a 10th grade graduate, how is he or she qualified to teach at Ekal?
Ekal provides extensive training to the teachers in the Ekal pedagogy. Ekal’s pedagogy is an experiential learning model where the children “learn by doing”.
Teacher recruitment and Training
A local person referred by the village is chosen as the teacher. Over 70% of our teachers are women. The teacher has a good understanding of the culture and values of the village. This enables her to have a good rapport with the children
Induction training: 5 day residential training is provided to onboard the teachers: Training topics include
Teach them to do activities with children
Use of the teacher manual for conducting day to day proceedings at Ekal.
Ongoing Refresher Trainings
Monthly one full day training
Two 5 days residential workshop in a year
Teachers are evaluated on a monthly basis and one-on-one coaching is provided to teachers who many need extra support
How can one teach and handle three different class and grade levels?
Multi-grade teaching is a heavily researched and studied education technique that can be mastered with training
Ekal teachers are trained to manage the multigrade classroom
The Ekal model is a perfect example of the same where we divide 30 children in three different groups based on their age and learning levels.
This helps them to engage more effectively in their respective groups and learn faster
Small groups are conducive to learning
Brighter students of senior classes teach the junior classes.
How does the Ekal teacher contribute to village development?
For the teacher in Ekal, Vidyalaya is just one of their activities. They are passionate about supporting their village and are trained to take initiative to contribute for the development of their own village.
Being a teacher, they are well respected in the local community which is most critical for any community led development
Ekal model is not only about teaching but making children aware about health and value education which provides a direct connection with their respective families.
The teacher helps in mobilizing the village community for any intervention related to village development and conducting any awareness program(eg. health, civics etc) by Ekal
Is the quality not a victim of numerical expansion?
Quality has two aspects.
Integrity of school operations
Giving the ownership of the school to the local village and entrusting them with the responsibility of monitoring and ensuring the smooth functioning of the schools is a key to success. We are working on Swavlamban Sangrah (raising resources by the villagers) to support the cost of running the school. This will make the ownership responsibility even stronger.
Quality of teaching.
The quality of teacher training is key to keeping the teaching quality high. The level of teaching depends upon the regularity of the training camps. The central training committee works to keep up the quality of the training.
What is the role of Ekal Abhiyan Trust?
It is important to understand that Ekal is not one organization but a movement dedicated to the cause of rural and tribal development. Different organizations with a focus on different aspects of development come together under the umbrella of Ekal Abhiyan trust driven by the common principles of Ekal.
All national level institutions are autonomous registered institutions. The umbrella organization of all these institutions is Ekal Abhiyan Trust. All the institutions are its affiliates.
There is a Kendriya Trust Board, called Ekal Abhiyan Trust Board, which appoints the Central Executive Committee (CEC). CEC in turn appoints Sambhag and Bhag Karyakarini(Executive committees). Bhag Karyakarini appoints Anchal Karyakarini and in turn the Anchal Karyakarini appoints Sankul and Sanch Karyakarini.
All these Karyakarinis (Executive committees) act as decision making bodies at their respective levels. All the institutes operating in their respective areas are represented in these Karyakarinis.
What is policy related to schools closed in the middle of session?
In case a school allotted to a donor is closed in mid-session, the donor is approached with two options: - Allotment of any school re-opening in the same month OR - Allotment of a new school in next session.
Allotment is made as per option exercised by the donor.
The main reason for mid-session closure of school is the drop-out of teachers. Majority of our teachers are young unmarried girls who move after their marriage.
In normal course, alternative arrangements are made in advance. Still if the arrangements cannot be made in a month’s time, the school is declared as closed. When an eligible teacher is arranged and is trained, the school is re-opened.
What is the policy on Vidyalaya Darshan(school visit) or Vanyatra?
Every member of the Ekal family and the prospective volunteer or donor is welcome for the visit. There is a prescribed “standard operating procedure” (SOP) for the purpose, which is available on the website. Please check out https://www.ekal.org/visit-a-school
Donors sometimes want to do a surprise visit without prior intimation. While we welcome such visits please be aware of the following issues:
Villagers may not accept the visitor as a member of Ekal family when not accompanied by any local Karyakarta.
We don’t have any school buildings. It may be difficult for the donor to reach the school.
Timings of our schools are flexible. Donors may find school closed if not reached in particular timing of school.
A large number of our schools are located in areas affected by Naxal activities. There is always a risk for a visitor to such high risk prone areas.
What is the role of Ekal Sansthan?
Ekal Sansthan is a national level body in Ekal Abhiyan whose focus is research, innovation, policy, media and publications.
Ekal Sansthan is not a decision making body but provides recommendations to Ekal Abhiyan Trust on different matters related to policies, Ekal principles, new interventions and technology adoption. Final decision on adoption of the recommendations lie with Ekal Abhiyan Trust . Activities include
Carrying out social audit for impact and quality analysis directly or by involving third party
Implementing pilot projects for new interventions, develop SOPs and transfer the operations of successful pilots to respective Abhiyan organization
Research and develop policy papers on different issues related to development in rural and Tribal areas
Review and upgrade educational content in conjunction with the Ekal education wing.
Capacity building of volunteers and full time Karyakartas including training of teachers
Providing support to any Abhiyan organization related to development of processes, integration of technology, impact analysis or policy matters
Do you have information about Ekal students who have higher education and attained reputed positions in society?
It is necessary to appreciate the basic structure of Ekal Abhiyan, as brought out hereunder:
Our mission is limited to primary education of children and literacy in the villages.
Our emphasis is that the rural youth should achieve success in agro based vocations, by staying back in rural areas.
We endeavor to check the fast pace of migration of rural youth to urban centres.
One of the major problems being faced by Indian society is that about 42% farmers have made exit from farming and other agro based vocations. A large share of rural youth, as much as 80% of educated rural youth and almost 60% of total rural youth, has been migrating to urban conglomerates where they stay in slums. Our movement has a mission to provide a solution to this massive problem by Gramotthan, Arogya and Empowerment.
We encourage Ekal students to progress further in higher education. However, we feel that it may pose a risk of influencing rural masses towards urbanization if the achievers are picked up and eulogized distinctly.
We have come across several cases, through informal means, of Ekal students having distinguished careers by entering government service etc. We have not tracked our alumni in the past. We are now working on tracking the alumni.
How do you monitor and maintain the quality of Ekal Vidyalaya?
The responsibility for the daily monitoring of the school lies with the local village community
The schools are conducted in open spaces without walls at most of the places. The village community can see if it is running regularly.
Ekal has an organizational structure that is very well developed. The lowest organizational group is called a Sanch which is a cluster of 30 villages.
In every Sanch, there is dedicated one full time Karyakarta whose work is to monitor the functionality of Vidyalaya as per guidelines
Monthly review takes place about the attendance and learning outcome at every Sanch
Monthly reports are compiled and analyzed at state level, zone level and at central level. Interventions are planned if there is any gap.
There is a continuous Up-Skilling of teachers through regular training.
Third party assessments are held on regular intervals from reputed agencies.
We are working to incorporate tablet/technology based education for children so that overall quality is standardized and improved.
Ekal model is structured in a way that without quality standards, continuity is impossible and a journey from one village to more than 100 thousand villages in three decades is itself a reflection on quality.
Why is the teacher’s dropout rate high?
At national level 72% of our teachers are female, out of which most of them are unmarried girls. In some states this percentage is around 80%. They are bound to leave the villages after marriage within a certain period.
Girls have proved to be more efficient teachers, so we encourage them, and we have to bear with this reality.
For boys, they leave the village in search of better employment, since agriculture has gradually turned to be a liability for a farmer family.
Government schemes like NAREGA (Employment Guarantee Scheme) has affected village youth adversely to work hard and provide selfless service for the village upliftment.
Even if teachers of Ekal leave, we must appreciate that we have empowered them and the training that they have got at Ekal gives them opportunity for betterment.
How do you ensure the regular functioning of the Ekal schools?
We give the ownership of the school to the local village committee. When the villagers feel the ownership of the school, then only we can ensure the regular function of the school.
We are working towards making the schools be financially supported by the local state voluntary organization including contributions from the villagers.
Once villagers start contributing, they monitor and take care of the quality of the teacher, which ensures regularity.
How can you run the schools at such a low cost?
Every penny that is donated is matched by over 4 times that in volunteer time. In addition to volunteering for Ekal, Samiti and chapter members do not charge Ekal even for their traveling and other expenses.
The Acharya accepts a very low honorarium. S/he is motivated by their passion for doing something for their own village.
Sevavrati Karyakartas, who provide support and management services for the organization also accept a very low honorarium, driven solely by the passion to make a difference.
Is there any discrimination based on caste, linguistic affiliation or religion in Ekal?
We do not discriminate based on caste, religious affiliation or linguistic affiliations.
We run the schools in the village and children of every caste and religion in the village attend the schools.
Ekal is a pan-Indian movement and we are present everywhere in India We have teachers, volunteers and children from all religions and castes
Do you teach religion in Ekal?
No. We do not teach religion.
What is Sanskar Shiksha and how does it go along with Ekal?
Sanskar Shiksha is an independent activity of the Ekal family.
This takes care of promoting cultural values, awareness about local history and heritage and preserve the rich values of Indian civilizations
It is managed by a separate organization i.e. Ekal Shrihari Cultural Society for Tribals (CST)
At the grass root level the Ekal teachers and workers of CST work together as they are complementary to each other.
Addiction to liquor and smoking is a huge challenge in the tribal areas. For economic development, the villagers have to be addiction-free.
Using devotional assemblies at the weekly village meeting called the Saptahik Pathshala (SPT) of Ekal, the Ekal workers are aggressively working to remove addiction.
What is the Ekal Vidyalaya model and how does it work?
Ekal means one. At its core it refers to a one teacher school in each village.
25-35 students in the 6 to 14 age group are enrolled.
The school timings are flexible and decided by the village. The school runs for 2.5 to 3 hours each day.
Learning with the help of books, crafts and games.
Teaching and learning is made fun through the use of games, songs, dances.
Medium of instruction is the local dialect.
Ownership of schools is given to the village committee which has the responsibility of the smooth running of the school and making it sustainable.
Schools run in existing village areas like a Chaupal, a space under a tree, a structure in the community premises, in the village courtyard or at a teacher's home.
Teacher - a local youth preferably a female, with minimum 10th grade education.
Teacher is imparted training, undergoes monthly evaluations and refresher courses.
In areas where students attend regular schools, Ekal provides support education to the children who are enrolled in formal schools.
Students who graduate from Ekal go on to attend formal schools at the 4th, 5th or 6th grade level.
In Ekal Vidyalaya the motive is not only to make children literate but to educate a child; hence apart from imparting basic education, the syllabus includes awareness towards health and hygiene, cultural and ethical values, sustaining development and empowerment for self-reliance.
What is the process of identification of villages and opening of Ekal Vidyalayas?
The schools are opened in clusters; one cluster consists of 30 villages.
Survey of the area takes place and villages are selected for opening new schools.
Before opening the schools, a Gram Samiti or village committee is formed in the village.
The Gram Samiti decides the venue of the school and recommends the teacher, who is referred to as an “Acharya”
The Gram Samiti also monitors the functioning of the school.
Once the school is opened, besides reading, writing and arithmetic, other subjects including health and hygiene, general knowledge and Sanskar (cultural & moral values) are imparted to the children. Villagers are also given information about health and hygiene, Sanskar and other general knowledge issues.
Are annual exams held? Is there any certificate that is given?
Though annual exams are conducted and children are graded on the basis of their performance, no formal certificate is issued.
Ekal Vidyalaya aims to impart basic non formal education to children of remote areas and at the same time also inculcate human values in them.