40 Udaan Alumnus and Their Parents Brainstormed to Address Hurdles in Education at the Alumni Meet

DSCN8509Udaan – a Girl’s Residential Special Training Centre (STC), launched in November 2011, by SRF Foundation, in collaboration with CARE India, is an 11 months long residential learning programme specifically designed to help out-of school girls aged 11 to 14 to complete primary level schooling. Upon completing the 11 months, the girls are enrolled into regular schools, and admitted into their respective age-appropriate classes. On 15th May, 2017, an annual Alumni Meet was organized for the ‘Udaan girls’ and their parents, giving them a platform to meet each other and share their individual journey of change and challenges. 40 girls and 10 parents attended the ‘Milan Samaroh’ (Alumni Meet) and relived their old days at the centre.

DSCN8361On the outset of the program, Mr. Kamaleshwer Mishra from SRF Foundation and Seema Rajput from CARE India shared the objective of the meet and urged the participants to share their achievements for others to learn from them and the challenges that they faced so as to brainstorm a possible solution together. After setting the objective of the program, six girls from Tapkan School sang the welcome song for all the participants.

Beginning the session, the caretaker of Udaan and the parents of the alumni girls of Udaan shared their experiences of how they overcame the pressure and the oppression from the community who constantly discouraged them to send their girls to study at Udaan and then how the personalities and knowledge of their girls developed in a span of 11 months which left the same community in awe of them. A proud father, Mr. Sarfuddin, shared how his girl, who had never been to school before, scored the highest marks in the entrance test of Kasturba Gandhi School amongst 30 girls who appeared for the test. “Even my sons do not have a strong knowledge and understanding of all the subjects which they are being taught in a regular school as compared to my daughter who has made me proud by excelling in her studies”, said Sarfuddin with a beaming face.

DSCN8385Mustaak Ahmad, Religious Leader and community mobilizer for Udaan also shared his initial challenges to motivate the people of the community to send their girls to Udaan. He had to assure the parents that respecting the culture of the region the Udaan centre ensures the safety of their child and has only female teachers to help girls learn discipline, respect for elders, cleanliness and hygiene apart from regular academic knowledge. He personally believes that it is important for a girl or a woman to be educated as it only enables and empowers her in her day to day activities of keeping a record of the expenditure and saving while managing the household. In four years he was able to mobilize 100 girls to Udaan from Tapkan and its neighboring villages. On the future job perspectives of the girls to empower them further financially, he agreed that even as per their cultural beliefs the girls can be given a certified training on stitching and nursing which can get them a proper government job once they have cleared their 10th examination.

DSCN8369After a small cultural break, the torch bearers of Udaan came forward and shared their personal journey of change. Irfana, from the very 1st batch of Udaan, recalled her very first days at the centre which were initially difficult as she felt homesick, but then gradually with the support for her fellow friends and the care of her teachers she became comfortable at Udaan. One of the major factors why she stayed back in Udaan was because the facilities that she got at the centre was not even available at her home. With her hard work she became the finest student of Urdu in her class securing 100% marks in the test after which she joined the school in her village itself which was till Class 8.

With a zeal to study further and with the support of her parents she joined another school in F.P. Namak village which was three kilometers away from her village. Lack of transport and distance never came in between her will. She covered the distance daily on foot when one day she was a gifted a cycle on 15th of August. Irfana became the first girl in her village to ride a cycle to school and she successfully passed Class 10 with flying colors motivating other parents of the village and opening new doors for other girls in her village.

DSCN8434Similar was the success story of Nazma who first expressed her strong views against female feticide and girl child marriage through a self-composed poem which even won her a standing ovation from all the participants. She then shared how her thinking and her lifestyle changed for good after her stay in Udaan. She learned to speak respectfully to the elders, maintained cleanliness at home and looked after her personal hygiene and taught the same to her family as well. Nazma has cleared her Class 10 examination and have already planned and finalized the school from which she will complete her senior secondary education. She aspires to become a police officer in the future to maintain a just and law abiding society.

Lastly Wasima, the only Brand Ambassador of Bal Swachhta Abhiyan in Haryana (made by then HRD Minister, Mrs. Smriti Irani) shared how her life changed after Udaan. It was through Udaan that she got an opportunity to put forward her views on hygiene and cleanliness which got the attention of the HRD Minister and was made the Brand Ambassador for Bal Swachhta Abhiyan in Haryana when she was only 11 years old. Having earned the position she also got an opportunity to represent Haryana in various cities outside the periphery of Mewat and met various social activists which gave her a rich exposure. Her views have also been broadcasted by many radio and TV channels to promote health and hygiene in the state. Currently Wasima is studying in Class 9.

DSCN8428Giving a complete understanding of the positive change that the girls go through, Mr. Wasaruddin, Head Mater of Tapkan School, and Mr. Hamid, Senior Teacher from Sonkh School shared their observations of the girls after they are mainstreamed to regular schools. Both agreed that the girls who came from Udaan were much more intelligent and smart than the other students in the class and always performed better than the rest. Apart from this they motivated the parents to spread the word around and motivate other parents to send their daughters either to school or Udaan so that the district which is considered to be the most backward and illiterate can emerge as the most versatile and literate district, serving an example for others. Both the Head Master and the Senior Teacher applauded the Udaan program for being the only unique program in the area which caters to girl child education in such an innovative and successful way.

Towards the end of the program, all the participating alumni of Udaan were given mementoes by the Head Master, teachers and parents as a keepsake of their journey in Udaan and their achievements thereafter.


Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Potpourri of Knowledge

In an ocean of 8000 thousand books, Bibi Jaan of Class 8 from Govt. High School, Doddaanekundi, b11was silently engrossed in a book which gave her deeper insight to the views and vision of leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Subhas Chandra Bose and Jawaharlal Nehru. Her 35 other classmates were also enchanted by the pages of the books which told them everything that they wanted to know. From syllabus to story books, recopies to arts and craft, dictionaries to encyclopedia, you name it and they had it. Apart from that they also had newspapers in three languages of Kannada, English and Hindi which gave them a daily dose of news from around the world. “I love Mathematics and want to become an Engineer one day, but being a good human being is equally important”, said the confident Bibi Jaan who has never skipped her library class, which is also her favorite place to be during free periods.

Mr. Muneshe, the Head Master of the school, feels lucky to have such enthusiastic and self-motivated teachers and children who helped him bring the library to life in just a short span of one month. With a collection of 8000 books already in his kitty, he utilized the amount given to him to develop a place where his students will be at ease while their mind sailed through the ocean of knowledge. He bought chairs, almirahs and tables for them and painted the walls with quotes and pictures which gave them a welcoming feeling every time they entered the room.b12

“In my 20 years of experience I have observed that the children are not very keen in reading, but the library changed this scenario in a very short time”, recalled Ms. Kavita, the library in-charge of the Doddaanekundi Govt. High School. She also shared that previously when there was no separate library room then the children used to sit on the floor and read which used to be very uncomfortable for them, but now they have a separate well ventilated room and also chairs and tables to comfortable glide through the waves of knowledge. On asking how the cataloging of the books was done, she smiled and said that it was not an easy task as they had so many to arrange. But still they didn’t take any help from the children as they only wanted them to utilize that time to read and learn. The small team of teachers took on themselves this herculean task and worked extra time to make it possible.

Mr. Anand Kumar, the Physical Education teacher who readily gave up his sports room for the library was very happy with the new addition in the school. He believes that sports and books together make a complete person as sports refreshes and strengthens the body while books strengthens the mind. In the library one can see the various trophies that the children won in various sports and now Mr. Kumar wants to see a similar result in academics too with the help of the library.b13

As a future plan, the headmaster and the teachers share the same vision, that is, to add more general knowledge books in the library so as to help the children prepare themselves in a competitive world where knowledge is their only savior.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Pathway to a Whole New World

The moment you enter the library of Govt. High School, Immadihalli, you feel as if you b8have entered a digitalized corporate setup where you have your personal cabins and confortable revolving chairs. As you take your seat a new inspirational quote welcomes you every day. This is because of their collection of 1000 such quotes which they shift from one cabin to other every day. These are all the efforts of the Headmaster of the school, Mr. Shiva Reddy and the library in-charge Ms. Subha Hedge.

 “I love books”, beemed Subha when asked why she accepted the role of the in-charge, “the library gives the teachers also an opportunity to enhance their skills and teaching techniques.” For the headmaster, he just wants the best in the world for his students. When asked about the unique setup of the library he shared that he wanted his students to get a feel of the corporate setup early in their lives so as to spark their aspirations and motivate them to dream beyond. Also the design of the library is such so that it can be converted into a digital library cum smart class room in the near future.

b9Mr. Reddy even went ahead to research on the best colors to be used on the walls and for furniture so that the children feel calm, relaxed and can concentrate more. Also one of the unique things about this library was that all the 2500 books were not kept in almirahs but open shelves as the headmaster believed that the books should be kept in open rather than behind the mirrors so that the children feel that the books are more accessible and they are free to touch, feel and read them.

To achieve such high aspirations the headmaster also worked hard to find new collaborations in order to give his 45 children of each class a corporate set-up. He reached out to the community, local leaders and other companies who donated him floor mat, the comfortable revolving chairs, laptops and even free Wi-Fi!

On interacting with Balaji, Neha and Bhawna of Class 10 about their new library, all wereb10 very eager to share their views. Since they had to sit on the floor in the previous library room, the cabin and revolving chairs were more than what they could have imagined the new library to be like. The various books gave wings to their imagination, aspiration and knowledge. Here apart from the syllabus they read about Subhas Chandra Bose, an Indian freedom fighter, M. Visvesvaraya, an Engineer from Karnataka and also ‘Panchatantra’ a collection of Indian folk lore. The various varieties of books not only made them a good human being but also became a pathway for them to a whole
new world. But with Science and Mathematics as the favorite subjects of all the three, the school promised an IAS officer, Doctor and Engineer in the next few years.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

SRF Foundation and HP Launch “HP World on Wheels (HP WoW)” Mobile Bus for Digital Inclusion in Bhiwadi, Rajasthan

DSCN7897It was a moment of ‘WoW’, wonder and pride for us at SRF Foundation, as we became theRZ8A6792 flag bearers for launching the first IT enabled digital bus, ‘hp World on Wheels (WoW)’ one of its kind, at SRF plant location, Bhiwadi, today. The Chief Guest of this memorable day was Mr. Muktanand Agarwal, Dist. Collector, Alwar, who cut the ribbon and gave our mission a head start. Also present during the event were Mr. M. L. Yogi, Urban Improvement Trust (UIT) Secretory, Mr. Manish Arora and Mr. Shantanu Chatterjee from HP Digital India Team, Mr. Awadesh Gangwar, SRF Bhiwadi plant head, Dr. Rajbir, Sr. VP SRF Bhiwadi, Dr. Suresh Reddy, Director, SRF Foundation.

RZ8A6836Apart from them other government officials like, Mr. S. C. Mathuria, General Manager, DIC, Mr. Manoj Kumar Sharma, ADPC – SSA, Mr. Ramesh Chand Sharma, BEO, Tijara, Sarpanch of Jhiwana, industry representatives from Bhiwadi, representatives from Foundation, teachers and students from our program schools in Bhiwadi and members from the community, all graced the event which marked an important date in the history of digital education.
SRF Foundation’s 20 seater, IT-enabled HP WoW bus will offer a mobility solution to help
bridge the digital divide between urban and rural areas through PPP model by bringing easy information technology access to the isolated and disadvantaged groups in 18 villages and the government schools of those villages in Bhiwadi (Alwar Dist.), Rajasthan. It will also promote IT enabled education through e-learning modules and entrepreneurial and skill development courses will help train school children, rural youth and communities, among others by acting as a Community Service Center (CSC). With increased awareness of computers, the local population will get linked to Government programs and initiatives. This initiative is in keeping with SRF Foundation’s mission to provide quality education and skill development training programs across the country.

Dr. Rajbir gave a warm welcome to all the revered guests and the community membersDSCN7879 present, while addressing the community, Dr. Reddy gave a brief introduction to the bus in simple language for the people present and informed them about the benefits which they can avail from the same. The representatives from HP asked the teachers, students and the community members present to give them a feedback after using the bus and inform the in charge about any issue that they may face as it will only help them to improve their services in the next busses that they will soon launch in the rest of the states of India.
Mr. Yogi hailed the new joint initiative of SRF Foundation and HP as according to him the knowledge of technology is the need of the hour and in the near future people and children who will not know how to utilize technology will be termed as ‘illiterate’.

The Dist. Collector of Alwar, Mr. Agarwal expressed his high expectations from this new DSCN7925venture. He shared that he would eagerly wait to witness the wave of change and evolution which SRF Foundation and HP partnership would bring about in Bhiwadi. He was also proud of the fact that the very first digital bus was launched in Bhiwadi giving an opportunity to the children to get a hands on experience of technology at a very early age. Further on he requested the representatives of other companies and factories who were present to follow the footsteps of SRF Ltd. in terms of the CSR initiatives that they have been doing in Bhiwadi for the past 12 years. From his own end he promised all the support whenever required for the cause of education in Bhiwadi.

Towards the end of the event, Mr. Awadesh thanked the people present and instilled in them a sense of ownership by reminding them that the bus was for their own benefit and hence its safety was also their responsibility.

The SRF Foundation ‘HP WoW’ project in Bhiwadi, Rajasthan aims to impact over 45,000 people across 18 villages in Bhiwadi, Rajasthan during the 39-month partnership tenure. 

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Our Treasure Trove

A story of change from Govt. Higher Primary School, Kaveri Nagar, Bangalore.
b1Away from the hustle and bustle of the classrooms below, Sandhya, a student of Class 7 of GHS, Kaveri Nagar, was quietly engrossed in understanding the ‘inside’ of a human body. One could feel the 30 minds working in sync with the bundle of knowledge in front of them. Here they did not need a teacher to tell them what they should do or how to behave, as they had the books, their best friends, to guide them and take them to a whole new world.

When asked what she was reading, Sandhya looked up with bright eyes filled with the amazement of the new found information and a mouth ready to share it all. “I am reading what a human body is made of, I didn’t know we look like this from inside, it’s so complex and beautiful at the same time”. It was surprising to see a little girl of Class 7 to find beauty and complexity in the same thing at such a tender age. But her library changed her. With an interest in Science, History and Biology experiments, Sandhya knew where to get her favorite books as she also helped her teachers in setting all the 2000 books in order.

b2Ms. Fatima, the in-charge of the library also shared the same passion as the children. A government school student herself, she nostalgically recalled her school days where they did not had access to a library, but she is happy to see her students get that opportunity which most of the government school students are deprived of. She has seen a marked change in the sentence framing, reading and writing skills of the students since the library has been made accessible to the students.

b3Even the Head Mistress of the school, Ms. Shweta, has observed a similar change in the students and was very proud of her library which she developed and systematically organized with the help of her teachers and students. With the grant that she received, she ensured a colorful set up with quotes and cartoons on the wall which will help attract the students and will appear more appealing to them. Apart from that she got almirahs to arrange the books and chairs and table to help children sit together comfortably while they embarked on a new journey where they made new friends and learned new lessons every day.

With her leadership anb4d contacts she even got support from IT companies like TCS and Dell which contributed 400 books for the library. Even Kanada Sahitya Parishad helped her to enrich her library with 300 literature books.

As a future plan, the team of Kaveri Nagar School wants to digitalize the cataloging system, add more books to the library and add a projector to the library in order to aid audio visual learning covering syllabus, general knowledge and child friendly movies. She is also looking forward to an increase in enrollment with this new attractive addition to the school.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized