School to School

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School to School

India
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

'School to School' is a simple concept of turning someone's wastage into a resource for another. It's a unique solution to a problem faced by thousands of remote village schools, that of lack of infrastructure and basic facilities. These are critical for a child to have a basic experience of schooling. 'School to School' is a practical, cost effective and easily replicable concept, arrived at on the basis of prevalent practices in urban schools.
A small village school's needs are very basic. Normally these students don't even have a pencil or copy to write on.. a bag, school uniform, mats for sitting are a distant dream. The idea is to motivate urban schools and students to donate the material they discard at the end of the annual term as every year most school children buy a new set of uniform, copies, stationary, water bottles, shoes, lunch box etc. when they move to the next class.

A school at Kuthambakam, Tamilnadu where children got bags from us
'School to School' not only offers a cost-effective outlet for huge quantities of discarded material that urban schools churn out every year, it will have a big motivating effect on the children in rural schools. Imagine when a mid day meal on which the government spends hardly two rupees for one child, is able to motivate a vast number of children to join schools, how much impact will this effort have? In a country where a village student walks 3 kms to reach school without any water and is forced to leave school because of this hardship. In a country where poor students leave school as they can't afford to buy a copy, ' School to School' will certainly have a big impact. It will also address the basic issue of clothing for a child in a remote village for whom uniform is also a basic set of clothing.

As GOONJ.. is the central coordinating entity , an outside intervention ensures a long term implementation reducing the burden of handling logistics etc. for the urban and rural school.

When a city school student understands and feels motivated by the concept, he /she will continue with providing this material for the entire span of his schooling with a result that a village student's need will be taken care for a span of at least 7-8 years bringing uniformity and close linkage in the material sent. That makes it a strong relationship programme instead of just a donation or charity effort.

A lot of agencies in the social sector are working in the area of motivating children in far flung villages to come to the schools. Various schemes like Mid Day Meal programme etc are quite popular. Our objective was to provide a fulfilling experience of schooling to these children, where simple things around coming to school means having a school bag, a uniform, pencil and copies, which are luxuries for these kids.. The other equally important aspect of this programme is to sensitise urban school children to the realities of a very different Indian life for their counterparts in villages. The urban school children are by and large divorced from the realities of the other not so privileged children of India, this programme will educate and expose them and give them a better understanding of the hardships and difficulties of kids who struggle for the basic amenities of life. The programme aims at building a long term relationship between an urban school and 3-4 small rural school where more personalised and individual bonds are formed between students on both sides of the society.

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Strategy Summary:

'School to School' is a simple concept of turning someone's wastage into a resource for another. It's a unique solution to a problem faced by thousands of remote village schools, that of lack of infrastructure and basic facilities. These are critical for a child to have a basic experience of schooling. 'School to School' is a practical, cost effective and easily replicable concept, arrived at on the basis of prevalent practices in urban schools.
A small village school's needs are very basic. Normally these students don't even have a pencil or copy to write on.. a bag, school uniform, mats for sitting are a distant dream. The idea is to motivate urban schools and students to donate the material they discard at the end of the annual term as every year most school children buy a new set of uniform, copies, stationary, water bottles, shoes, lunch box etc. when they move to the next class.

A school at Kuthambakam, Tamilnadu where children got bags from us
'School to School' not only offers a cost-effective outlet for huge quantities of discarded material that urban schools churn out every year, it will have a big motivating effect on the children in rural schools. Imagine when a mid day meal on which the government spends hardly two rupees for one child, is able to motivate a vast number of children to join schools, how much impact will this effort have? In a country where a village student walks 3 kms to reach school without any water and is forced to leave school because of this hardship. In a country where poor students leave school as they can't afford to buy a copy, ' School to School' will certainly have a big impact. It will also address the basic issue of clothing for a child in a remote village for whom uniform is also a basic set of clothing.

As GOONJ.. is the central coordinating entity , an outside intervention ensures a long term implementation reducing the burden of handling logistics etc. for the urban and rural school.

When a city school student understands and feels motivated by the concept, he /she will continue with providing this material for the entire span of his schooling with a result that a village student's need will be taken care for a span of at least 7-8 years bringing uniformity and close linkage in the material sent. That makes it a strong relationship programme instead of just a donation or charity effort.

A lot of agencies in the social sector are working in the area of motivating children in far flung villages to come to the schools. Various schemes like Mid Day Meal programme etc are quite popular. Our objective was to provide a fulfilling experience of schooling to these children, where simple things around coming to school means having a school bag, a uniform, pencil and copies, which are luxuries for these kids.. The other equally important aspect of this programme is to sensitise urban school children to the realities of a very different Indian life for their counterparts in villages. The urban school children are by and large divorced from the realities of the other not so privileged children of India, this programme will educate and expose them and give them a better understanding of the hardships and difficulties of kids who struggle for the basic amenities of life. The programme aims at building a long term relationship between an urban school and 3-4 small rural school where more personalised and individual bonds are formed between students on both sides of the society.

How the Strategy Works:

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.

STEPS-

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.

Key Strategy Elements:

i. Mobilizing Citizen Support:
School to school programme is based entirely on civic participation and support.

The process starts by involving school management, faculty to initiate this programme as they play a key role acting as the link between the students, Goonj and the rural schools. We sensitise students in the cities to give all their school material which they have discarded. Also through the awareness and sensitisation campaigns in schools ultimately parents of urban school children are involved as the decision to give material is finally theirs.

On the beneficiaries side Goonj is not only working through various NGO's, gram panchayat's and other grass root agencies but we are directly linking with small village schools which are benefiting from this as a programme.

These NGOs and other local partners do the need assessment, implementation and monitoring of the programme under our guidelines.

We also involve the management and teachers of these small rural schools in effective implementation. We motivate them to use some of the items sent by us as a resource. They are encouraged to look for more regular children, most disciplined children, children who take a bath daily or take care of their cleanliness, children who excel in studies and so many such small but very important issues and then give this material to this group of selected children. This really works well as a major motivational factor.

The urban students are involved as volunteers as we teach them about sorting & packing. This step is important as it teaches them the difference in GOOD and BAD and develops a sense of respecting the dignity of children at the receiving end as in normal donation many people use the opportunity to clear all the waste they have.

Another strategy is to organise a NEWS PAPER DAY by involving faculty, students and parents by motivating them to bring 5 old newspapers once in a month on a particular day. By selling this we generate some money to partially sustain the entire effort.

ii. Generating Financial and Nonfinancial Resources:
As the main idea is to collect waste material and use it as a resource, with some cost on logistics and administration this programme has the potential to become a very cost effective exercise.

As per our costing on the entire project, just in a small cost of Rs. 24/- (almost half of a dollar) a child in the remote village can get the basic material like uniform, bag, stationery etc.

This money includes all the crucial aspects like cost on collection, communication, storage, salaries & transportation.

THE idea is not to spend a single penny on buying any material but to spend effort and money on motivating more and more schools to be a part of the collection.

We are trying to raise this money from various sources and also motivating students and their parents to bring their old newspapers and used copies with other material so that by selling that we raise some money for this project

We also ask the students and parents to give one rupee with every material they give. Goonj has always believed in being self sufficient in running its operations. Our motto is that if we even get one rupee with each school uniform/ bag/shoes given, that is all that is required to cover the expenses of reaching the material to the final beneficiary.

iii. Establishing Relationships with Strategic Partnerships:
This programme is helping us forge long term strategic relationship with a network of urban schools and through them with a much larger audience of students and their parents. This networking plays a key role in generating resources especially in the time of disasters, when schools offer their premises for collecting, sorting, packing and storage. School students work as volunteers in collection drives and door to door campaigning and parents help establish contact and activate corporate tie ups. On the other hand in the villages, this programme has helped us better address the needs of our beneficiaries and it fulfils a critical need of education in the broadly neglected areas.

This also gives a lot of opportunities to the local NGOs to establish a better relationship with their target audiences in the villages.

Many respected organisations and people's group are showing keen interest in this and are trying to learn for the implementation in their areas.

iv. Engaging and Managing Volunteers:
School to School is a prime example of involving the masses in volunteering. The whole process of school to school is based on motivating school children to volunteer and collect material for their counterparts in far flung villages of India. Volunteers in cities approach schools for initiating this programme. We motive School principals and teachers to involve their friends in other schools as they belong to the same fraternity and have good contacts with many other schools and that's how it's spreading.

A simple example is the schools which have many branches and after involving one branch it becomes easy to replicate in other branches by involving teachers as volunteers.

The students are involved as volunteers as we teach them about sorting & packing. This step is important as it teaches them the difference in GOOD and BAD and develops a sense of respecting the dignity of children at the receiving end as in normal donation many people use the opportunity to clear all the waste they have.

v. Developing Information and Spreading the Message:
We address assemblies, talk to groups of teachers and students and brief them about the entire programme. We put up exhibitions with actual photographs showing the needs and real condition of rural schools to sensitise the people related to urban schools. After the programme begins we have exhibitions depicting the implementation of the programme to give parents, students and teachers a chance to feel good about contributing and the satisfaction of helping someone.

The biggest tool is a half page leaflet printed on one side used paper which goes to the parents through children and informs them about the entire programme.

Impact
Increasing Self-sufficiency and Social Impact:

For the last six years Goonj has been working in the field of reallocation of excess resources from the urban areas to the rural areas of the country through its ongoing nationwide programme Vastradaan. SCHOOL to SCHOOL ' is a nationwide campaign and will benefit about 35,000 children in the first phase itself. The benefits of this programme are many fold and all the entities involved in the process are benefiting in one way or another.

Participating Urban schools- This programme helps solve an urban problem where each year thousands of urban school students replace all their school material, with no clear channel for last year's material. 'SCHOOL TO SCHOOL 'will help get this material across to the segment, which needs it badly. For the urban school management this programme offers an image enhancement in terms of presenting themselves as a role model among their patrons, parents, other schools and students, without any financial or logistical commitment. The biggest benefit will be that the urban students who are largely cut off from the realities of the villages of the country will not only get first hand experience but will have a sense of ownership around making a difference in the lives of their counterparts who don't have their privileged life and education.

Partner NGO/ Panchayat or local body- A chance to establish a better relationship with the community they work for and a chance to work without much financial involvement.

Beneficiary School - A lot of changes in their ideas and impressions about learning and going to school. A school which is not a school because there is a teacher for 50 odd students but a school where the basic signs of identification are there.

Students - At donor end - the satisfaction and at the receiving end - an identity, a resource and not only uniform but in the shape of uniform a pair of clothes too. An important aspect is also the motivational effect this has on children to come to study.

Parents - of the donor school students - a chance to serve and get rid of something they can't use for anything else..

The beneficiary school students- a moment to feel good and a chance to redirect their meagre resource to some other basic needs..

A much bigger and an important aspect is environment also -As the entire concept is based on recycling, it enables use of every single item (in the case of schools more of plastic items) for many years instead of using it once and throwing away in the garbage...

Organization Mission and Vision:

Mission- Creating a nation wide movement for channelising vital resources lying in excess in urban and middle-class households to far flung rural areas in India, thus addressing some of the very basic needs of millions of poor people by involving multiple stakeholders . The effort is to go beyond the realm of 'charity' and play a crucial role in the development process having economic implications.

Vision- To create awareness and establish a network in such a way that Whenever an urban household plans to discard a usable item he or she knows a possible channel to reach it to someone needy.

Looking Forward to the Next Three Years:

We learn from every urban school in terms of giving patterns and attitudes of people and from every rural school- the needs for example we could think of obvious needs like uniforms, school bags and stationery but its only after implementation and feedback that we realized that even old dinner plates can give a great meaning to midday meal in a school. Now this is also a major item on our list. The demand area is vast and there is no dearth of donor and beneficiary schools. As the main emphasis is on developing relationships instead of making it one time donation the process is long drawn but the this model ensures that hundreds of school WILL be benefiting in the first three years itself with much longer commitments in place