The regions with low population density, difficult terrain, poor telecom coverage and uncertain weather require different norms of development than the regions with contrasting conditions. This must be quite obvious to the planners and administrators. But students from iima who went to Uttrakhand as a part of shodhyatra course felt otherwise. They felt that several modification in policies and systems could leverage the excellent gender ratio and strong demand for education in rural interior areas.
How can we harness the innate brilliance of children, in particular girls for providing a meaningful education. During the presentation of shodhyatra experience by the students to honorary Governor dr KK Paul, it came out that higher articulation and responsiveness by girls over boys noticed by us was also seen in the state toppers enclave organised by the office of the Governor, Uttrakhand. The share of girls was more than eighty percent among the toppers in different streams in higher education.
How should central and state government encourage the children in pursuing their educational aspirations.
A) the availability of library, computer facilities, self learning tools and digital resources were severely constrained. The students had carried a lot of open source material in a Memory card along with books of innovations by children through ignite awards by NIF, Honey bee database, and several other interesting resources. These were given to teachers in each school so that teachers would find ways of studying them and sharing with children.
Such digital and paper libraries should be given to each school in the state.
B) given the difficult terrain and weather, it was admirable to see children coming walking from villages 10-15 on away. Obviously, it will be very helpful if good quality drinking water facilities are provided in each school. At higher altitude water storage can be encouraged apart from other measures.
C) waste collection system needs to be developed in general but certainly from schools to create credibility fr sanitation mission. The general standard of hygiene was very good but most of the plastic waste wAs dumped near rivers or low lying areas by villagers. Urgent need for a system to collect and where possible recycle needs to be developed.
D) the teaching of English can be improved by providing learning labs. So also the science labs and workshops are needed.
E) teacher motivation was generally good but in the absence of minimum furniture in schools and other facilities, difficulties were indeed faced. Some very interesting experiments were being done such as using walls as green boards fr small children to write on them.
F) the globe, microscope, posters on walls and many other teaching aids are needed to help children.
G) Menstruation education to boys and girls was another urgent need.
H) mentoring of children, career counselling by bright students and other professional will help children aspire more.
I) writing the names of outstanding alumni achievers on the school walls will inspire children too.
J) the creativity of children came out when idea competition was organised. Competition between iima student team and local school children was very interesting and encouraging.
K) vocational education was almost missing and needs urgent attention. Skill building program, watershed management training, eco-sensitivity, traditional knowledge and innovative idea registers can also help.
Several groups helped in organising the shodhyatra. Sristi took help of Not on Map group in mobilising local youth. Volunteers of AAGASs were extremely helpful in organising logistics, understanding local ecological complexity. Several value adding enterprises will be seeded to enlarge the imaginative landscape of children and communities by sristi with the help of Honey bee network institutions like nif and gian. Iima students have decided to develop follow up plans and two students have volunteered to spend a month here to ensure implementation of many ideas.
We hope that additional resource flow to such schools and communities will get special attention soon.