Newsletter June 2012

Ekal Fund raising in Los Angeles

Los Angeles Chapter of Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation of USA organized a sold out fund raising event ‘Bollywood Milestones’ in Santa Ana High School on April 28, 2012. About 850 people attended the programme. The duo of Samir Date and Dipalee Somaiya charmed and cajoled the audience to open up their hearts and checkbooks to help the Ekal Vidyalayas in inaccessible and remote rural and tribal areas in India. Los Angeles Chapter collected pledges worth a quarter of a million dollars translating to opening of 680 new Ekal Schools. The event was published by ‘India Journal’ in USA. To get details click here


Indian Family raises fund for Ekal by performing Akhand Ramayan Paath

We had Akhand Ramayan at our home from 31st March to 1st April, 2012 on the occasion of Ram Navmi. As Akhand Ramayan goes for 24 hrs we started at 12 pm on Saturday the 31st of March and it went on all night. A few friends stayed over to help chant during the night in turns but hardly anyone slept as it was lovely chanting together. We concluded with Aarti on Sunday the 1st of April, RAM NAVAMI day.
On this occasion, we requested our guest via email that this year we are supporting Ekal Vidyalaya and instead of bringing gifts and fruits, we would highly appreciate if they would contribute to EKAL.
With generous support of our friends we collected $1,300 along with the renewal of 3 EKAL schools and one new sponsorship. We feel blessed to have such wonderful friends who not only participated in the Ramayan but supported our cause as well, and wish to thank them for their selfless acts of kindness and charity. In addition we created awareness of Ekal Vidyalya to more than 30 families and hope that we started a new trend of supporting charities. 

Mona Ranjan


Ekal at Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore

IIMB’s Centre for Public Policy (CPP) organized a seminar on Inclusive Education and Bridging the Widening Societal Disparities on 2nd May, 2012 at the campus auditorium. The two sessions of panel discussions held in topics of ‘Inclusive Education in India’ and ‘Innovation in Education’ 

It was inaugurated by Prof. Rajeev Gowda, Chairperson of CPP. He welcomed the panelists and participants. He said the principal objective of CPP at IIM Bangalore is to work with various stakeholders and enable the right public policies to be developed to address the emerging needs of our country. The first session on inclusive education was chaired by Ms Nina Nayak , Chairperson, Karnataka State Commission for Protection of Child Rights. In her opening statements, she acknowledged that the people who are working in the government and quasi- government agencies are struggling to implement the various schemes since they lack the capability to use the data and maneuver the system effectively. Then she introduced the speakers Mr Vijay Kumar, IAS, Retd. Secretary, Primary Education, Tamil Nadu, Mr Naresh Bala, Project Director, Project 1947, Dr C. Satheesh Kumar, Project Coordinator, Ekal Vidayalaya Foundation of India. Following that each of the panelists represented their organization/topic.

Mr Vijay Kumar, IAS, Retd. Secretary, Primary Education, Tamil Nadu, shared his experiences of working with the SSA program in the state. The innovative Activity Based Learning methodology introduced in primary government schools in Tamil Nadu, under his guidance, has provided the motivation for thousands of children to attend school regularly. Learning in the classrooms takes place through the three step process of doing, experiencing and reflecting. The focus has shifted from teacher to learner with concepts like peer-based learning, attractive teaching materials providing a curiosity provoking and nurturing environment and the freedom to immerse oneself in a topic until it is mastered. 

Mr Naresh Bala, Project Director, Project 1947, was the next speaker and he stressed that his work has been on quality rather than scale. He strongly believes that education should lead to happiness and success – unfortunately, the dropout rates in government high schools proves that neither of these goals is being reached. Innovative teaching materials and technology aids like videos and powerpoint presentations of content based on textbooks developed by his organization foster individual understanding.  
Ekal Vidyalaya addresses the needs of Bharat, as opposed to India, according to the next speaker, Dr C. Satheesh Kumar, Project Coordinator, Ekal Vidayalaya Foundation of India. The non-formal, one teacher schools are set up in the remotest of rural areas which are as yet untouched by any form of education or development, and their innovative curriculum produces change agents who actually address the needs of the family and the community without migrating to poorly paid jobs and nightmarish urban settings. The community is also trained in production of eco-friendly, organic products, production by the masses as opposed to mass production, as he puts it. He attributed Ekal’s success to local community support, total transparency in operations and passionate full-time volunteers selected from the community. 

The last speaker of the session was Mr Venkateshappa, Deputy Director of Public Instruction (Rural), Government of Karnataka. As DDPI of Bangalore Rural, Mr Venkateshappa uses his vast sphere of influence to break the isolation of the government school system through the support of NGOs and the local community. His proactive involvement of all the stakeholders and trouble-shooting efforts are aimed to create entrepreneurs rather than job seekers, to turn seeming academic failures into skilled and creative workers.

The afternoon session, termed Innovation in Education, was chaired by Professor Nayana Tara. Mr Ambrish Dongre, Senior Researcher, Accountability Initiative, presented the findings of the PAISA Survey Reports of schools and SSA programmes in several districts of northern and western India. While India’s elementary budget allocations have steadily risen over the years, the outcomes have not kept pace. The PAISA surveys are an effort to understand elementary education governance by tracing school wise and district wise budgetary allocations, fund flow and spending. Unfortunately the release of funds by the district administration does not keep pace with the schools’ schedule and needs.  This top down system of allocations only ensures that quality needs of the schools are not met or the money is left unspent during the current academic year. 

Dr H. Sudarshan, Honorary Secretary, Vivekananda Girijana Kalyana Kendra, has tackled myriad issues like equity, sustainable development, good governance and corruption during his long years of serving the needs of the Soliga tribes and various government agencies. He stressed the importance of experiential learning and an education that is aimed at strengthening the roots of the community, through creative engagement with the environment.  His work in healthcare and education has ensured trust and respect for diversity and fostered pride in traditional knowledge and community action. 

Mr Toby Linden, Lead Education Specialist, World Bank, New Delhi, made it clear that there are big challenges of scale in the education sector. Though large scale interventions are the need of the hour, the monitoring systems are more focused on inputs than outcomes and are unable to respond to the felt needs on the ground. Innovation and capacity building should be the focus areas of spend on government programmes like SSA and RMSA, where systems should be built to pick up what is working well and spreading it.

Professor DVR Seshadri, Adjunct Professor, Marketing, IIM, and Professor Nayana Tara summed up the day’s proceedings, saying that there had been huge personal takeaways and insights for them. Prof. Nayana Tara emphasized that Innovation in governance, shifting the focus from inputs to outcomes, building accountability and capacity by strong monitoring and evaluation systems are critical. Further, she added that equally important was the need for the government to network with NGOs and corporate houses, many of whom are passionate about education and want to make positive contributions.

Mr Sridhar Pabbisetty of CPP outlined the working of the portal Open Governance India ( a CPP’s effort to build up hard core data and evidence in various developmental sectors, including education, to enable social scientists and data researchers get together along with the various stakeholders and enable evidence based policy changes. He appealed to the audience to be engaged and participative in such efforts and closed the proceedings thanking partners Ekal Vidyalaya, CSIM, VGKK and Project 1947 for their efforts in organizing the seminar.  

Many of the participants were astonished to know about the activities of Ekal Vidyalaya movement for the development of the tribal people in our country. More than 200 people from various organizations attended the seminar. This was very good opportunity to publicize the work of Ekal to the general public and to the like minded organizations.


Ekal Sansthan organizes a seminar at Ranchi

Ranchi Chapter of Ekal Sansthan organized a one day seminar on 6th May 2012 on “Transformation of society by Education” (Shiksha se samaj me parivartan). A delegate of 10 people went to attend the seminar from Delhi of which 4 were from BLSP and 6 from EVFI and Ekal Sasnthan. One day prior to seminar, a press conference was held which got published in local newspapers and given wide publicity to the seminar.

The seminar started with opening session which was chaired by Dr. P.L. Chaturvedi and Chief Guest was Dr. J.S. Rajput beside 3 Ex Vice-chancellors and one IAS officer. Dr. Chaturvedi in his opening remarks told audience the conditions under which Ekal Movment was started. Other eminent speakers shared their views about development of education and express their happiness what ekal is doing. Dr. Rajput pleaded how the strong nation can be built through education especially primary education.

There were two technical sessions which was chaired by Dr. Kailash Nath Gupta, President, Ekal Sansthan and Mr. Praveen Arya, General Secretary, Ekal Sansthan. In both the sessions, one speaker was from Ekal and two speakers from the society.

The valedictory session was having many eminent speakers including Chief Editor, Ranchi Express Mr. Balbir Dutt, Mr. Naresh Jain and other speakers also expressed their views and need for such voluntary work which help in changing the society by their action. 
The seminar was covered by many local newspapers and published a wide coverage on it.


Ekal Prerna Varg at Belgaum

Prerana Varg (Inspiration Camp) for full time workers of Karnataka Bhag of Ekal Vidyalaya Movement was conducted at Belgaum (Karnataka) on 26th & 27th May 2012 at Sant Meera English School, Angol, Belgaum. The Karyakartas started reaching the venue since 25th night. Totally 178 karyakartas from 10 Anchals working from Sanch (Cluster) level and above, participated the Varg. 

The intention for conducting this varg was to motivate the Karyakartas for better performance and dedication and boost their moral. Keeping this in mind no routine work like reports, reviews of the work, was included; instead sports – indoor as well as outdoor, inspirational speeches and an inspirational movie were included.

The inauguration of the Varg was done at the hands of Swami Yukteshanandji of Ramkrishna Mission Ashram, Belgaum. This young IITian Sanyasi elaborated the qualities and duties of a Karyakarta. He also emphasized the need of the task taken up by the Ekal Vidyalaya Movement. He stressed that a Karyakarta has to be modest.
In the afternoon a kannada movie ‘Care of Footpath’ was screened. It was a story of a slum dwelling boy with an urge to learn. Who seeks an admission to school and achieves it with his efforts with the help of a teacher. This was followed by Group Games in the Grounds, which was enjoyed by all the Karyakartas. 

In order to bridge an emotional connection between the urban people and the karyakartas, Ekal Abhiyan Mahila Samiti had added a unique feature to the Varg in the form of ‘Matrabhojan’ (A family brings food for two Karyakartas). About 80 families from Belgaum participated in the Matrabhojan. They came with food for themselves along with 2 Karyakartas and had dinner with them. An informative presentation about Ekal Movement was presented to them. The urban people had an occasion for exchanging their views and getting acquainted with the Karyakartas and the working of Ekal Yojana in detail and first hand. The family members noted the contact numbers of the Karyakartas and assured them to call at least twice a month. The whole atmosphere had a compassionate touch.

Anand Milan program followed the Matrubhojan, in which Karyakartas gave folk and cultural performance Anchal wise (Area wise). It was 10.45 PM when the first day of Prerana Varg concluded. Next day the first session at 6 AM was Yoga followed by Outdoor Games. All the participants enjoyed the games.                                             
The varg concluded after Lunch with the Samarop. Smt.Alkatai Inamdar, Akhil Bharatiya Sah Karyavahika, Rastra Sevika Samiti addressed the Karyakartas explaining their characteristics and duties. All the Karyakartas returned to their respective Kshetras with heartfelt memories and enthusiasm.

Prerana Varg was very successfully organized and conducted by the Ekal Abhiyan Samiti along with the Mahila Samiti under the able guidance of Varg Adhikari Sri. Girish Pai and President Sri Suresh Hundre.


Solar lamp distribution in Ekal villages under Project Chirag

I left New Delhi on 2nd evening and reached Udaipur early morning on 3rd May. After refreshing, along with Samiti members, we reached Nichli Sikari by 3 P.M. The village was 80 kilometers away from Udaipur city. There was no concrete house but only mud hutments, very cleanly maintained and were being used as dwellings by them. The huts were scattered apart. The area had many huts belonging to single family. They mostly depend upon the small crops in the hilly area.
We were to meet CHIRAG Team here. The team had been to Baldari village where they distributed one hundred solar lamps. After finishing our lunch at the hutment of Sri Pyar Chand Baranda, Sah-mulyankan Pramukh, we preceded to village Anuri Fala reaching there by 4 P.M. Although the distance was not much but the road was very rough. We had to leave our vehicle half a kilometer ahead of place of distribution of solar lamps. The villagers welcomed us by garlanding rose flower malas. The place selected for the noble cause was at some height and the approach was very steep and slippery on account of loose mud. There were about 70 tribals gathered there. The recipients of solar lamps consisted of men, women and children (receiving on behalf of their parents). All were happy and enthusiastic about the new system of lighting they were going to receive. List of recipients was already prepared and they were called one by one to receive the lamps which consist of two units-one for indoor use and the other portable which could be easily taken anywhere while going out at night. Both the units were designed to work on solar energy which was stored in the battery fixed inside the unit itself. Independent solar panels were provided to charge the battery. The recipients received the lamps after signing/putting their thumb impression against their names as per the list. 50 set of lamps were distributed to the villagers-- 10 to 12% of the villagers put their names instead of putting their thumb impression. All the villagers got photographed with their lamps lighted in their hands. 
The lamps were donated by Chirag Rural Development Foundation, Mumbai and jointly distributed to the villagers through Friends of Tribals Society.

Vijay Sethi
Jt. Secretary F T S Delhi Chapter 


Harbansh Lal from Portland, USA visits Ekal School

I was informed from EVFI Delhi office that a gentleman Sri Harbansh Lal from Portland, USA has come to Siliguri (West Bengal) and wants to visit Ekal Schools nearby. I called him over phone and scheduled the visit on April 11, 2012. Our team of four members departed from Siligudi to Matigarha where Lal family was staying at the home of Smt. Nutan Gupta. The member in our team were Sri Ramavtar Barelia, Sri Madan Mohan Goyal, Sri Dwarika Prasad Singhal and myself Om Prakash Agarwal.  

We departed from Matigarha to visit Ekal School with Lal family in two cars. We reached Tuna-7 of Naxalbari Anchal about 4 PM. Sri Viren Karmkar & Amrit Gwala from Anchal Samiti, Sri Hemant Nagesia & Megha Gwala from Gram Samiti were present there. An Ekal School was running in a club house. 25-30 children were sitting in queues disciplined. All the students greeted us saying Jai Shreeram and touching our feet. Sri Harbansh Lal asked his names to each student. Students made the visitors introduced with their talent by chanting Geeta, Mantras, dancing and singing songs. After this we visited Gangaram Tea Garden’s Khutipada and Bada Line Ekal Schools. Both the schools were running in open sky under the tree. The little students of these schools performed Brahmnad and Gayatri Mantra. This scene was very spectacular. Lal family distributed drawing books, colour pens and pencils to the students. All the visitors became overwhelmed and cheered the children by clapping hands. Sri Harbansh Lal told that he collects fund for 85 Ekal Schools in USA but now he will try to collect fund for 100 schools.  

Om Prakash Agarwal
FTS Siliguri Chapter


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