GOONJ.. helps establish a relationship between an urban and a rural school. One urban school with an average strength of about 1,500-2000 students can support 4 to 5 rural schools, which have around 100-200 kids in each school. The focus is on sensitizing the urban school children and their parents to the needs of their counterparts in remote villages. GOONJ.. helps channelise their discarded material like old books, uniforms, shoes, school bags etc.
It is an on going exercise where year after year an urban school without investing or spending any money, just by creating awareness about the concept, by motivating its students can be a part of this nationwide programme.
The fact remains that in the cities children normally discard the material for reasons like fading of colour, change in the cartoon characters which means change in trends & fashion . |This means that although the discarded material looses value for the child it's utility is intact and it can be used for many more years by someone else.
GOONJ... started by supporting a number of temporary schools in Ahmedabad after the riots in 2002 . 'School to School' was formally launched in the beginning of 2004 and a number of prestigious schools have shown keen interest in this programme in the cities. Hundreds of children of Kuththambakam ( Tamilnadu ), Bafliaz ( Kashmir ) & Nagni ( Uttaranchal ), Sunderbans (West Bengal) are already benefiting from the material collected in the launch phase of the programme itself.
Information & motivation - It all starts by motivating urban schools by addressing the assemblies and by showing them the impact of their support in various villages. With picture boards displayed at urban schools highlighting the rural schools we also sensitise them about the realities of rural schools which most of the urban school children can't even imagine like lack of infrastructure, basic sitting facilitates, one teacher for many classes, non availability of notebooks, pencil or eraser.
Collection- After this a collection drive is organised in the schools with the help of the school management and GOONJ volunteers. The children are also motivated to give new items as our messages say like: "when you buy 5 pencils for yourself why not one for your friend in __________ village of ___________." or "this birthday just commit a pencil box to your counterpart in __________ of ___________."
These communications have very direct impact and when our leaflet reaches parents through children it creates a massive multiplier impact. The entire process involves teachers, parents & children and we get a huge quantity of material from these schools.
In one school when the campaign was initiated to motivate children to bring one new item on their Birthdays and put it in the big carton kept in the school for the same, it has resulted in the collection of 100s of new toys and other school items from that one school every month.
Sorting and matching the needs- The entire material is sorted out on the basis of needs. Colour and quantity of uniforms is the most crucial thing cause when we are talking about building a relationship the supply chain has to be regular.
Distribution in villages- is done through our partner organisations- local NGOs, Panchayats & in Kashmir it's done by the Indian army. In the last few months many Ashoka Fellows and their organisations are joining as implementation partners.
All 600 students of three schools of a village Kuthambakam in Tamilnadu (Ashoka Fellow Elango's work area ) wear uniforms now and all this is collected from the urban schools of Delhi.
We are having huge collections for the schools in Tsunami affected areas and are in the process of implementing it in a major manner there.
FEEDBACK- This is not a donation or charity programme and the main stress is on building a relationship so that a permanent solution can be provided to this big problem of rural schools. Also by doing it in a systematic manner means a good relationship between the urban and rural schools and their students. In the later stage the children will be going to each other's school to see the impact and understand the ground realties, which is very important for an urban child who can not even think of the problems their rural counterparts, go through?
GOONJ provides relevant photographs and details of the beneficiaries to the urban schools and organises display of this feedback in these schools. This certainly motivates teachers, parents and students to support more..
ACTIVITY CENTRES- For village children we are also developing a lot of rural school activity centres with the help of discarded toys and story books etc.. The idea is to have a place full of indoor and outdoor toys, good informative charts and educational toys, a small library of good storybooks so that children start using there time more constructively and also learn in the process. Apart from one such centre in Kuthambakam, another centre in the Bafliaz village, in a remote part of Kashmir is under progress. A unit of Indian army is quite keen on this as due to the worst effects of terrorism, children need to spend time in a more constructive way.
We firmly believe that lakhs of village children also have the right to play with better things than old tyres, used torch batteries, empty match boxes or the covers of cigarette packets which are their only toys.
School to School is a unique programme which can easily be replicated in any part of the world where there is a gap between haves and have nots and the rural schools are having difficulties providing basic school facilities to children which becomes a hindrance in motivating more children to pursue their education. I feel any developing economy where there is still a large chunk of population which finds it difficult to get even the basic necessities of life and there is a section of the society typically the elite or people in the metros, this programme can help bring about a marked change in the education trends in the rural areas. Since the programme's implementation is based on motivating young urban school students, it is a long term self sustaining exercise in resource generation apart from enriching both the donor and the beneficiary and building a long term relationship between the two.
SOME EXAMPLES OF EFFECTIVE IMPLEMENATATION-
In the first year of proper implementation we see major changes in many schools in some villages.
About 600 students of three schools of Kuthambakam ( work area of Ashoka Fellow Elango in Tamilnadu) now wear uniforms all collected from various school to school partners schools in Delhi and a number of them wear uniform shoes, carry school bags instead of polythene bags and have better toys to play with. Since Elango is a very well experienced social activist he has started using his contacts to find out such resources from the local area to try and replicate it.
A school in Sunderban Delta area of West Bengal has proper activity centre with a lot of toys and games and students spend much better and quality time in the school where the lack of a teacher has always been a problem.
In Nagni, Uttaranchal in two schools almost all the children now have sweaters or coats in the winters, they have a matt to sit on which is made of useless clothes by GOONJ.. and they have copies and other stationary. The best example is 32 plates given by a corporate and we gave it a small primary school. Earlier for the midday meals half of the students here used to wait for the rest to finish their meals as there weren't enough plates. It was really tough for the students of this village school where many children walked almost six kilometres not only for studies but also for the midday meal which is a dream for them keeping in view the sad financial conditions at home.
All these schools are now regular beneficiaries of School to School programme and in the coming months they will have all the material they require to have a basic school experience.