Inspired by his first visit to Shiksha Bharati in June 2016, Mr Mohinder Gulati, one of our enthusiastic volunteers visited again in October 2016, to celebrate Diwali with the children who are living away from their families.
Visit to Shiksha Bharati by IDRF Volunteer
Reflections of My Visit to Shiksha Bharati
I had the privilege of visiting Shikhsha Bharati’s educational institute (Srimati Brahmadevi Saraswati Balika Vidya Mandir- SBVM) on behalf of IDRF on 4th June 2016. I met with the President Mr. Rajkirpal and Manager Mr. Kuldip Kasana, the Principal of the school Mrs. Alka Gupta as well as the in charge of the tribal girls’ hostel.
IDRF has been supporting Shiksha Bharati for more than fifteen years. I visited the dormitory for tribal girls constructed with IDRF funding. I also got an opportunity to interact with the girls residing there who are being supported in-part through endowments and annual grants from IDRF. Of the 78 girls residing in the hostel, 12 had left this year after completing their senior secondary education. It was a sheer joy to talk to a large group of confident and energetic young girls who are full of hopes and aspirations, ready to take on challenges and odds facing many of them, and firmly anchored in a value-system that would help them realize their potential as individuals and as productive and responsible members of the society.
The girls have been performing very well in the C.B.S.E. exams, as a result of the quality education provided by Shiksha Bharati. The school uses latest audio-visual tools, science laboratories (reasonably equipped but need further support), and has two computer labs (equipped with more than 70 computers). For example, the school organized a program with a departmental store in Delhi to provide practical experience to students in retail management. I have agreed to connect the school with a wonderful program of innovative science education being run in Bengaluru area with financial support of a World Bank program called Development Marketplace.
Tribal Girls hostel:
The hostel facilities constructed with IDRF funding are managed well. Currently it has 78 students from tribal areas- mostly from Assam but also several from other North-Eastern states, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, and Ladakh. 12 students have recently left the hostel after passing their higher secondary education. The hostel residents also have access to library, a covered space for indoor activities such as yoga, music, gymnastics etc. Each hostel room accommodates 6 girls and they form a small mutual support group. Filters are used for ensuring clean water. Food is cooked on campus and hostel inmates eat together. I had the opportunity to enjoy a meal with them and taste the delicious pickles made by the students.
Annual cost of education, lodging, and boarding of the hostel students comes to about Rs. 28, 00,000 per annum. Selection of tribal girls for various such schools and hostels is done through an organization called Vidya Bharati.
Enthusiasm, community spirit, and laughter of the girls was contagious. They also have access to medical facilities. I was also informed by the management that the endowment of US $6000 per student, which use to be enough in the past is falling somewhat short of requirements due to reduction in interest earning and price increase. The school is able to meet the shortfall from its own resources but may have to review the adequacy of endowment.
This IDRF and Shiksha Bharati project deserves continued support; is a very good use of IDRF funds; and should be considered for scaling up. I would like to thank Mr. Rajkirpal and Mr. Kasana for a very warm welcome, excellent support for my visit and the hospitality extended to me. It was an inspiring visit and my wife and I plan to visit the school again during our next visit to India.
-Mohinder Gulati (Maryland, USA)
Former Chief Operating Officer, Sustainable Energy for All (UN)
Former Adviser, Energy (World Bank)