Following extensive research carried out of schools in the district of Anand (Gujarat, India) requiring voluntary help, CFDC engaged and agreed a week long voluntary programme with the principles of three government schools.
Over 40 UK volunteers took part in a seven day programme to change the lives of over 1,600 children and their families. The programme called Brighter Futures, is what we hoped to give the communities involved.
The programme was split into three projects; Rejuvenate, Inspire and Motivate.
The Brighter Futures programme was developed after visiting a number of schools in the district of Anand in India during December 2014. The purpose of these visits was to identify schools requiring the help of 40 volunteers from the UK. In this search, we found that government schools located in most rural places were operating on the most limited resources. Some children attending these schools were from single parent families, orphaned, or children of families on little or no income. Unfortunately alcohol consumption is very high and some parents earning 100 rupees a day would spend a quarter of this on un-refined alcohol ‘moonshine’. The number of girls attending school in the 9th & 10th grade is dramatically reduced. This could be because at this age, education is no longer compulsory or the girls are pulled out of school and put to domestic work, in order to supplement the family income. Most of these families live below the poverty line and are in possession of a BPL card (Below Poverty Line), which allows them free medical care.
During our visit, we spoke to a number of teachers and principals and discovered that in most government schools they already have an assistance program underway. This includes increasing the number of class rooms, provision of 11 computers, internet connection, a free midday meal and a small amount of cash to buy a school uniform.
In a drive to improve the quality of education, the government has also placed many younger teachers in the role of principal and there is a three year rotation of head teachers. This replaces the former practice where head teachers were promoted due to years of service. Most new appointments have gained their position by sitting exams to prove their ability in the role.
Once every three years the government identifies a school with potential, meeting certain parameters and invests 300,000 rupees to transform it into a ‘Bala’ school. A Bala school is painted throughout with educational material on every wall and includes structures such as an outdoor theatre which all combine to make the school a place of refuge for troubled children. All schools hope to be chosen for this scheme but so far very few have been transformed.