Shashwat activities include twelve pre-primary schools, a residential primary school for tribal school dropouts, a tribal children’s hostel which we hope will be a tribal sports academy someday and a health care program that primarily focuses on women and children.
The Vandeo Vidya Mandir residential primary school at village Aghane caters to about 60 bubbly kids, those who never went to school – as several parents are of Katkari primitive tribe, or school dropouts. The kids learn with fun, we try to free them from the fear of math by special teaching techniques. They are bold enough to hold a microphone & talk or act out street-plays in front of a roomful of visitors, have performed cultural programs & earned small amounts as encouragement in surrounding villages. Shashwat regularly organizes Training Programs for teachers of surrounding Govt. schools to prepare tribal kids for state-level scholarship exam. Our Annual Sports Day sees kids from 6-7 nearby schools participating with fun, and we try to promote athletics/ kho-kho, kabaddi & Mallakhamb etc. 23 kids in class 5 to 10 have passed out from this school and Shashwat has provided hostel facilities for them since 2009 in rented accommodation at village Dimbhe while they go to the village school there. We help children in studies & encourage sports -some have been selected in school kabaddi/ kho-kho/ athletics teams for block level sports.
RESIDENTIAL PRIMARY SCHOOL & HOSTEL FOR TRIBAL/ PRIMITIVE TRIBE DROPOUT CHILDREN:
Shashwat started the Vandeo Vidya Mandir primary school in 2001 on the long-standing request of the villagers of Aghane with the Objectives
- To provide quality education to tribal and primitive tribe children living in the steeply sloping, heavily forested, high rainfall area of the Western Ghats behind the Dimbhe dam and
- To afford a second chance to tribal children - dropouts who had been unable to fit into the education system of Zilla Parishad primary schools and the Ashram schools run by the Tribal Dev. Dept.
We upgraded Vandeo Vidya Mandir to residential status after 3 years. The school received recognition from the Govt. on a permanent, no-grant basis in 2006.
THERMAX SOCIAL INITIATIVE FOUNDATION has been supporting the running expenses of our school and hostel since August 2013. They have recently offered to extend their support by another year. TECH MAHINDRA FOUNDATION supported this activity for 6 years before that.
A decade later, three children have reached 12th std while one of the Katkari primitive tribe children cleared the state level 4th std scholarship exam and was selected from Ambegaon block for further studies at Dist. Satara. Several of the Katkari kids are studying in the VIIth std. They have mostly overcome their fear of Math, largely due to the special Math teaching program introduced here through another Pune-based NGO Navnirmiti. The academic performance of the school is better than standard, as testified to by the Govt. school inspection team that has been visiting us for the past 3 years.
Everybody in classes I to IV want to play lejim, kabaddi, kho-kho, run, and also take part in dramatics. If one finds it difficult to learn reading, the others help. They form groups and with their teachers’ help, make fish out of cloth properly stuffed with straw and rags, or draw animals and other things on paper. They make objects out of clay. The days are filled with extra-curricular activities, as also a fair share of studies. Pratik Asavale of Std II can easily write in English on the blackboard the words his teacher writes in Marathi. Chandrabhaga of Std III draws beautifully. Sunita, a Katkari girl, plays excellent Kabaddi and Kho-kho. Children are bold enough to politely request visitors to introduce themselves, and are good at public speaking without stage fright.
Corporate funding by Thermax Social Initiative Foundation has enabled us to provide the children with good quality educational material, wholesome food, decent lodging, clean water, and the opportunity to play games and sports, besides enjoying the jungle gym, see-saw, merry-go-round and so on. Eye & dental check-up camps by visiting senior doctors and regular care by a paramedic, keep the children in good health. No time is lost in rushing a sick child to the doctor when necessary.
ENSURING QUALITY EDUCATION:
Teachers regularly go for training to upgrade their teaching skills, in Training programs provided by the State Education Dept as also by organized trainings through well-known schools like AKSHAR NANDAN, Pune. A number of opportunities are also provided for the children to learn about the environment around them. SPECIAL TRAINING in Math was provided by us continuously for 4 years to all children and teachers by the Pune based NGO NAVNIRMITI. As a result, the children have overcome their fear of math. A brief introduction to activities in the past year is given below:
- EDUCATION: On 19-2-14 we organized CHAWADI VACHAN to ensure quality education, in presence of several field workers and staff of Shashwat. All the children were asked to read aloud and write and do sums etc. on the black-board. At the end it was concluded that the progress of 3rd std was less while other classes were progressing satisfactorily. Suitable suggestions were given to the teacher concerned Mr Ganesh Londhe who promised to work harder. On 15th March 2014 again a similar exercise was conducted at the time of the parent teacher meet and the same tests were conducted in front of the parents. At this time the progress of all the classes was found satisfactory, as shared by the parents and other staff of Shashwat who were present.
- TEACHER TRAINING: Our 2 teachers together with Hostel In-charge Mrs Sugandha Damse and School Manager Mrs Pratibha Tambe attended the Teacher’s Training program organized by Thermax Social Initiative Foundation during 26-28 Oct 2013 at Pune, and found it quite useful. The teachers have been using some of their learnings since then. Our teachers Mr Arun Pardhi and Mr Balu Kathe participated in the 4 day training program organized by the NGO PALAK NEETI at Pune during 12-16 Feb 2014.They experienced and learnt matters pertaining to how to increase the vocabulary of Marathi language in playful manner, how to help children learn maths, how to mix up with the kids, how to help the kids to develop scientific outlook etc.
- SCHOLARSHIP EXAM: For the 6th year, our children participated in the state level scholarship competition for 4th std kids, on March 23rd, 2014. So that the tribal children of our area could be better prepared, we have organized training for primary school teachers of all schools from the nearby villages continuously for 3 years.
- SECOND TERM EXAMS: Exams are normally held in the beginning of April. All teachers helped Children to prepare for the exams, by extra practice, solving more problems in maths, remembering etc. Exams were held during 1st to 5th Apr 2014. The annual result is attached.
- SANCH MANYATA camp was held for Pune district schools at Bhave Girl’s Primary School, Pune, on 21 Feb; Headmaster Mr Hazare and Ms Praibha Tambe represented Shashwat school and submitted all completed papers as per requirement and direction of the officers present.
- SCHOOL INSPECTION: Kendra Pramukh (cluster head) of Borghar bit (area/block) Mr Vijay Jangle visited the school with his team comprising Mr Gaikwad – Kendra Pramukh, Tirpad bit and Kendra Pramukh, Chas bit Mr Mirke on 22nd Feb 2014. They checked, measured and recorded all facilities provided by the school as per the norms required under the RTE Act and we provided a letter assuring that we shall complete the construction of boundary wall, 2 extra urinals and a Head Master’s room by the beginning of the academic year. A large part of the boundary wall in front of the school has been completed; other construction is stalled due to paucity of funds.
- SCHOOL RECOGNITION: All documents for school recognition were submitted at the camp organized for this purpose at Pune on 28/ 02/ 2014. Our school was awarded the recognition letter on 03 March 2014.
- SPORTS DAY: Annual Sports Day was organized on 7th Mar 2014. Children from 5 nearby primary schools – Nhaved/ Kaparwadi/ Doni sadkechewadi/ Pimpargane/ Balvirwadi participated besides our Aghane school kids. A total of 130 kids participated. Kabaddi, kho-kho, running events, relay races, throw-ball, obstacle race, long jump etc. were the events organized. Breakfast and lunch were provided to all participants. All participants got one notebook and a pen, besides any prizes they won. Retired officer Mr Waghmare from Education Dept of Zilla Parishad Pune with a colleague and Mr Mohan Chaughule of Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Mumbai with his 3 friends were the honoured guests on the occasion. Shashwat Vice President Ms Kusum Karnik & Anand Kapoor were also present. Hindustan Petroleum Corpn. gave a grant of Rs 15,000/- for prizes and other arrangements of the event.
FOOD & NUTRITION: Every student is given milk before 8:30 am, and meals at 10:00 am, before the school starts. Eggs and fishes are in the food of every week. Every fortnight chicken/ meat/ fish and on occasions puran-poli, khir, Sweet Shira, Jalebi, Shengadana chikki such kind of food is cooked. Milk is given to students. The quality (degree of fat in milk) is tested every day. The training of testing is given to the women workers. The students of 3rd standard are also trained. Apart from this measuring out daily provisions kirana is also taught to the student to develop their capacities
PAINTING: COLORS DAY was celebrated again this year on 19th Oct 2013; our good friends - artists Mr Raju Deshpande and Mr Debu Barve of Pune brought many different kinds of colours and paper and the kids had a field day. They also painted a part of the walls of the school. Teachers and other staff of the school also participated and it was a fun day, filled with enthusiasm. The Indian Express Pune carried an article on 14 Jan 2014 on this event.
TRIBAL CHILDREN’S HOSTEL AT VILLAGE DIMBHE:
We have maintained the strength of this residential primary school at around 60. More than half the children are of the Katkari primitive tribe. Six years ago, when we found these children were having difficulty continuing their education after the Vth std in other schools in the area and some were dropping out, we started a hostel for them at village Dimbhe. For paucity of space, we have been forced to reduce the number of children to just 23 girls since June 2013.
These children study in the Shri Sharad Chandra Pawar Madhyamik Vidyalaya high school at Dimbhe village. Our Executive Director Mr Budhaji Damse and his wife Mrs. Sugandha Damse, take care of the children, besides shouldering their other responsibilities. Two women cook for the children. The kids are provided a meal in the morning at around 9:30 am and again in the evening, and their lunch is provided by the school. Once a week the kids eat meat or fish, and sweets on festival days.
Shashwat has been leased two cottages of about 800 sq ft. area, on subsidized rent by the Govt. in the Dimbhe Irrigation Colony. The tribal children’s hostel is housed in these. These buildings also accommodate at present the Shashwat office and living space for two families, as well as our field workers when they visit. It is cramped and we need to rent more space.
Learning with Joy and Freedom
- “I love to play. I can be a runner!”
-- Ankita Wadekar, Std X, hostel resident at Dimbhe
- “I am getting good education. I would like to be a teacher.”
-- Sushama Talpe, Std IX, hostel resident at Dimbhe
- “I couldn’t have gone to school had it not been for this hostel –every Saturday they take us for swimming. I just love it!”
-- Jyotsna Virnak, Std VII, hostel resident at Dimbhe.
Conclusion: They who never had a chance to learn, they who had been unable to cope with the education extended by an uncaring system, about 200 such children are receiving the benefits of learning without fear. Such children have been learning with happiness at our school and hostel for the past nine years. We are in the process of expanding our work among tribals in the nearby dams in Khed and Junnar blocks. We hope you will support us in our efforts to provide tribal children and families with an opportunity to transform their own lives, while also opening a plethora of opportunities for the future.