Newsletter January 2011

Third Donors Meet at Muscat

The third Donor’s Meet was organized, in Muscat, on December 2, 2010, by the friends of Ekal Vidyalaya. The invitation of the program was by his Excellency Mr. Anil Wadhwa, Hon’ble Ambassador of India to Oman, and the function was at the Indian Embassy Auditorium.
Mr. K.N. Memani, Chairman of EVFI, was the Chief Guest. Well known actress Ms. Juhi Chawla graced the occasion as the Guest of Honour. Mrs. Memani, Mr. Pradeep Goyal, Trustee of EVFI, Mrs. Neeru Goyal and Mrs. Sangita Gupta, Ekal Global Coordinator also attended the program from India. Her Excellency, Mrs. Deepa Gopalan Wadhwa, Ambassador of India to Qatar also graced the occasion. About 200 well known personalities and donors from Muscat and some Ekal donors from Dubai attended the event.
 Ms. Juhi Chawla spoke in simple and lucid terms about Ekal Vidyalaya and her new association with the organization. She not only promised to support the cause but also announced her personal contribution to Ekal. She exhorted those present to see the movie Peepli Live to understand the situation in remote India, to highlight her point for the need for education. While closing her speech, she narrated a famous Hindi song ‘Saathi haath badhana. Ek akela thuck jayega milkar bojh uthana’.


Times of Oman publish an article on Ekal Donors Meet

Times of Oman published an article ‘Juhi Chawla joins hands with Ekal’ on the Third Ekal Donor’s Meet at Muscat. It was published in the issue of 23rd Dec., 2010. Times of Oman is a daily leading e-newspaper from the Sultanate of Oman. For reading article click here


Sri Ramesh Shah, Chairmen, EVFUSA visits India

Sri Ramesh Shah reached Chennai on 18th late evening. He was received by Sri Ganesh Shenoy and Dr. C.Satheesh Kumar. He stayed at the residence of Sri D.K. Jhaver, President of Friends of Tribals Society, Chennai.
On 19th he visited the house of Sri Balasubramanyam, Vice president of FTS & Smt. Gayathri Bala, Joint Secretary of Tamilnadu SVO- Ekal Vidyashram. The couple promised to visit USA during next September to interact with the South Indian Community in USA.
The luncheon meeting was held with the Executive Committee members of FTS Chennai at the residence of Sri D.K. Jhaver. Sri Ramesh Shah explained the working style of EVFUSA and he also understood the activities of FTS in Chennai during discussion. Sri Shyamsunder Dammani, The Chairmen, FTS South Zone, was also present during the meeting. Sri Ramesh Shah also explained them about Tata Dhan Academy Social Impact Study to the FTS members.
On 20th morning the Team reached Madurai. The review meeting of the Social Impact Study by Tata Dhan Academy started at 09.30 am. Sri M.P.Vasimalai, Executive Director of Dhan Foundation, Smt. A.Umarani, Director of Tata Dhan Academy, Dr.Damodar Jena, Social Scientist, Smt. Sangeetha, Faculty, TDA, Sri Palaniswamy, faculty, TDA, Sri Ramesh Shah, Sr .Ganesh  Shenoy & Dr. C.Satheesh Kumar were present in the Review meeting.
The TDA team explained the methodology used for Social Impact study. The TDA also gave inference on how the final report will look like. The discussions went in very detail and they expressed satisfaction about the coordination of Ekal Team in the process of Study. The final report will have the following Chapter.
1.    Introduction ( Objective of the study , Type & source of data etc)
2.    A comparative profile of the study districts ( Remoteness , access to primary school etc)
3.    Effectiveness of Ekal’s Basic Education on children, teachers and parents.
4.    Ekal’s Development Education and the village development
5.    Ekal Vidyalaya Movement: A critical review of its structure and process of implementation.
6.    Summary and suggestions

The TDA agreed to give full cooperation to the other agencies taking up the Study in other states like sharing the Tools of research and including those also in the final report.
On 21st Sri Ramesh Shah accompanied by Dr. C.Satheesh Kumar, Smt.Umarani & Dr. Damaodar Jena went for visit of Ekal Vidyalaya in Ramanathapuram anchal. This was a surprise visit. Kum. Keeba, Anchal Abhiyan Pramukh of Ramnathpuram Anchal joined the team in Ramnathpuram. The team visited the Village “VADAKADU” in the Rameswaram Sanch. Because of recent heavy rains the village was fully surrounded by water. Since it was around 2.00 pm the teacher was not present. The team could interact with the children & the village people. They expressed satisfaction & happiness about the Ekal School.
The lunch for the entire team was organized at the house of Kum. Thiilaieswari, who is with Ekal Movement for last ten years and now is the Vyavastha Pramukh of Tamilnadu.
The Second village visited by the team was ‘Cheeniappa Darga’ in the Alankulam Sanch. The Acharya was Smt. Muthulakshmi. This is one of the villages where the research team of TDA visited earlier for social impact study. The TDA team explained the details of the study done in this village. It was very interesting to note that more than 10 students in the class belong to Muslim Community. The Team interacted with the students & Teachers.
The third village visited was “SUNDARAMUDAYAN”. The Teacher was Kum. Vinitha.
The team interacted with the Villagers, Students & the Teacher. Throughout the visit Smt. Umarani of TDA helped Sri Ramesh Shah to interact in the local language .Kum. Keeba & Kum. Pushpa was with the team throughout the visit. The team reached Ramanathapuram Ekal anchal Karyalaya and was received by the Anchal Samanvaya Samiti members Sri Selvakumar & Sri Nallamuthu. After the discussions the team reached Madurai late night. During the journey lots of discussions went in the team about Ekal & its working throughout the world.
On 22nd at 03.30 pm the team of TDA again met at Dhan Head office for the purpose of explaining the entire program. Sri Ramesh Shah thanked the Dhan team for all the arrangements during the visit. At 06.00 pm he left for Mumbai.


Ekal’s Saaptahik Pathshala (Weekly Classes)

Tamilnadu Kshetra Naipunya Varga was held in Theni from 23.11.10 to 29.11.10. More than 70 fulltime workers from Tamilnadu and Kerala participated in the camp. In one session we had class about Saaptahik Pathshala (Weekly classes) for the village people. It was an innovative idea to give practical training immediately after the class. All of our Karyakartas visited 16 villages; altogether more than 1280 people participated in the programmes. It all happened just in two hours without preparation in villages. It shows kind support we get from villages and need for such programmes in villages. The main highlight of this event was all the Karyakartas had dinner in the villages where they had programme; they were requested by the village people. Many supporters, Samithis, volunteers and fulltime workers found through this initiative. On the whole it gave great motivation and confidence to our Karyakartas. Moreover the villagers also benefited through various programmes.


First Samanvay Varg at Ranchi (Jharkhand)

The first Zonal Samanvay Varg of Ekal Vidyalaya Movement was held in Ranchi on 17th to 19th Dec., 2010. Participants from Eastern Zone of India took active part in the Varg. Eastern Zone comprises 5 states Orissa, Bengal Bihar, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh.

The highlights of the Samanvay Varg
•    Samanvay (Coordination) among chapters (SPOs), State Voluntary organizations Anchal Samities, Sankul Samities and the full timers of the field.
•    The emphasis was on QUALITY, QUALITY and QUALITY
•    The collection of the articles by Ma. Shyam Gupt was released as ‘Prerna Pushp-2’ on this occasion.
•    Analysis of works of the last year and discussion on the policies for the upcoming year.
•    Swavlamban was the main focal point of discussions.
•    Activate Anchal and Sankul Samanvay Samities to ensure Swavlamban Collection and monitoring of quality aspect.
A Total of 547 participants from Orissa, Bengal Bihar, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh actively participated in all the proceedings with enthusiasm. The strong presence from Samanvay Samities was remarkable. Sri R.L. Kabra, Sri Ramesh Saraogi, Sri B.P. Jalan, Sri Vijay Maheshwari, Sri Chandramohan Agarwal, Sri Vijay Maroo, Dr. Sarita Mittal were some of the important persons from outside Ranchi who attended the Varg.


MBA Students visited Ekal School

The MBA students of Sri Ramakrishna Engineering College were taken to “Kaliyur” a tribal village having Ekal Vidyalaya near Coimbatore on 4th December. Thanks to Padmashree P.R. Krishnakumar, the Patron of Coimbatore chapter who motivated the MBA students about Ekal when he visited the institution to deliver a talk on CSR. After the interactions with the children & people of the villages, all students have promised to volunteer one day in a month to visit one Ekal village where they will teach some selected subjects. This becomes the Saptahik Pathsala (Weekly classes for the villagers) in that village. The students were extremely happy. We have decided to interact with more colleges of Coimbatore for this purpose.


Balaji Ramaswamy from USA shares his experience of Ekal visit

In my recent trip to homeland, I got the opportunity to talk in detail about the Ekal Vidyalaya philosophy as well as visit the school operations. I want to thank Dr. Satheesh Kumar and Sri Sudhir for spending time with me and making excellent arrangements for the visit. I should also thank Sri Sreedhar for putting me in touch with you all. As suggested by all of you, this was the best way for me to get to know the most detail about Ekal.
To hit two birds in one stone, I had also invited my friend Sri Ravi Raj who was equally interested in the Ekal school concept. Most importantly, we were extremely happy to see our children attending classes - be it government school or Ekal.

I wanted to summarize my thoughts, subsequent to this visit.
1. Overall, this is a very interesting and inspiring concept - of having micro-schools to drive basic education.
2. The commitment shown by the Karyakartas we met was exceptional. They had very spirited discussions with us on the work they do with both the children as well as the adults in the villages.
3. The fact that health clinics, social evenings and other such activities are being conducted in the villages is excellent.
4. I went through the syllabus material of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd grade, and I thought it was pretty basic and good.
5. We are doing a good thing by using the school infrastructure wherever it exists.

Some things that were a bit of a surprise were:
1. This concept seems to be more powerful in North India (where some places have no schools) than in the South, where every little village has a government school. In the South, Ekal is supplementing the government education and it is hard to quantify the benefits coming from the Ekal channel. If this benefit can be quantified, it would be much easier to explain this to gain people's interest.
2. The emphasis seems to be more on slokas / bhajans / dance / patriotism, than on hygiene / good habits / education. I believe it could be the other way around.
3. We were told that the school we went to (Goolipura) started Ekal classes only for the last 4 months, and so everyone was on the same "grade". It was hard to assess the different skills learnt by the different children, and even the skill-level of the Acharya. There were also some very young kids sitting in the same class (4 years old).
I will definitely share my experience and observations with my friends and colleagues in Portland and encourage them to contribute to such good causes.
Balaji Ramaswamy


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