Improving the quality of public education through active community involvement
Rural children in India largely attend government schools, which often lack basic facilities such as libraries, sports materials, water and sanitation facilities. Poor conditions in these schools are one cause of an alarming dropout rate that sees nearly half of primary level children leaving school. Plagued by illiteracy and ignorance, uneducated children in rural areas face chronic poverty and are vulnerable to being forced into child labor. The worst affected among them are the children of widows (semi orphans), orphan children, and children from very poor families.
Young adults in rural India face chronic unemployment. They often do not finish school, do not have any opportunity to leave their village, and live in poverty. Although many are in search of a more meaningful life, they are often discouraged, disillusioned and unmotivated to change things.
HOW WE ARE HELPING
Education for Rural Poor Children and Orphans
We work with government schools and communities to improve educational facilities, fight against child labor and to ensure that more children from disadvantaged backgrounds have access to quality education. Read More
We work with government schools and communities to improve educational facilities, fight against child labor and to ensure that more children from disadvantaged backgrounds have access to quality education.
Vidya Vikasa Pathakam (Education Development Program)
We work to improve facilities in rural government schools and provides a healthier learning environment for the students. We provide sanitation and water access facilities, as well as classroom furniture, dustbins, and libraries. We work with teachers and parents to raise awareness of the importance of efficient school management, infrastructure improvement, and involving school children in the development of their communities. Eco-Clubs formed of student leaders, and parent and teacher representatives are given regular training in maintaining the facilities to ensure sustainability.
Our project activities include:
- Awareness camps for students
- Tree planting program in schools to improve greenery
- Poster printing and distribution
- Annual talent competitions to gauge performance improvement
The targeted educational institutions not only display cleaner, greener and better equipped campuses but also a drastically lowered rate of absenteeism, from 30% to 13%. Children study in a more encouraging and comfortable learning environment, leading to better academic performance. Better sanitation has improved the attendance of girl children, and greatly reduced health risks. Parents, teachers and students feel collectively responsible for their school.
Orphans and Semi-Orphans
The Orphan Program helps prevent child labor through community sponsorship. Communities work to provide scholarships for orphans and semi-orphans.
Identifying Orphan Children: Bala Vikasa works with the Women’s Groups to identify orphan children in their villages. These children are from a rural poor background and have lost both parents at a very young age. Left alone without any security, love or care, they suffer psychologically, emotionally, socially and economically. They often end up as child laborers and beggars. The Women’s groups take them under their wing and call them, “Vikasa Children”.
Vikasa Mothers (women members): Members of the Women’s program are motivated to act as mothers to all the Vikasa children. The women themselves are poor and illiterate, earning about one dollar a day and struggling to manage. Yet, they understand the orphan children’s needs and provide them with motherly love and care. Many of these poor women become generous donors by donating a few day’s wages to pay for clothing and books. They provide them with emotional support and enroll them in boarding schools and colleges.
Solidarity Day with Orphans: The Vikasa mothers organize a Solidarity Day with Orphans every year to celebrate the birthdays of all the orphans. In addition to giving a donation, the women will take a day off work, pay their own travel and bring the meals for themselves and the children. The children are ecstatic to celebrate and have a chance to speak publicly and share their happy and sad moments from the year. The Vikasa Mothers encourage them in their studies and console them if they are sad. The children feel warmth, love, strength and security.
Child Labour Reduction: We conduct surveys of working children in the villages and discuss the issue of child labour, and a child’s right to education, in the monthly Self-Help Group Women’s meetings. Mothers are encouraged to educate their children rather than send them to work.
Pre and Post Natal Care: Mothers of young children attend awareness sessions on pre and post natal care, vaccination, nutrition and child safety. The women are provided with a nutrition supplement at the end of the session.
Our Youth Program helps rural youth gain self-confidence and motivates them to take part in solving problems in their communities. The program focuses on people aged 18-25, 80% of whom are unemployed school dropouts. Through our Model Communities initiative, we provide opportunities for youth to help themselves as well as their families and communities. Read More
Our Youth Program helps rural youth gain self-confidence and motivates them to take part in solving problems in their communities. The program focuses on people aged 18-25, 80% of whom are unemployed school dropouts. Through our Model Communities initiative, we provide opportunities for youth to help themselves as well as their families and communities.Youth Groups of 10-15 members are formed in each village, and participate in monthly gatherings facilitated by a Bala Vikasa field coordinator. The coordinators encourage the groups to discuss and challenge their perceptions. They work to raise the youth’s self-esteem and show them the change they can bring to their community. The groups then take on tangible development activities in their community.
Each group organizes ‘gram sabha’ village meetings where every community member is requested to attend. Village Development Committees (VDCs) are elected to initiate and monitor various programs in their respective villages. Following the our integrated development approach, which takes on all facets of a village’s development, the VDCs work towards a village which is clean and green; well lit and has electricity; has good health through adequate sanitation and safe water; where all the children are enrolled in schools; and which is moving towards sustainable agriculture practices.
18 Youth Development Agents are regularly trained and mentored by BalaVikasa in coordinating the various activities performed by Model Community development committees, with the help of local Youth Groups.
OUR 360° COMMUNITY DRIVEN DEVELOPMENT APPROACH
Our Education Program improves school infrastructure and motivates communities to keep their school’s environment clean. Children, teachers and parents all take part in the process of improving the school. The value of education is reinforced and people are directly involved in the development process.
Our Orphan Program works through the Women’s Program. Members of Women’s groups identify and help orphan children and the children of widows in their communities. A spirit of generosity and solidarity is cultivated, as our positive motivational approach drives even the poorest women to help those less fortunate than them, causing an inspiring ripple effect of people taking steps to assist those that were previously neglected.
The Youth Program epitomizes our Community Driven Development approach, which builds the capacities of a crucial segment of the population, i.e. youth, enabling them to be the driving force behind systematically organized development initiatives, through mobilizing the whole community to actively participate and contribute.