Hello everyone, Have you ever wondered how many kids don’t start education at the right age? In India alone 35 million children aged 6-14 years do not attend school. 53% of girls in the age group of 5-9 years are illiterate and only 53% of habitation has a primary school and this problem particularly stems in rural India.
My Project #SankalpaSiksha aims at :
Right to education for underprivileged kids in the age group of 3-6 years in rural areas with a special focus on girl child education by leveraging the anganwadi network.
In addition my project will focus on
1) Bring awareness on education and providing children affordable access to pre-primary schooling in rural areas.
2) Improving rural literacy with special focus on girls, by providing teachers and children with the tools and techniques to improve quality of education, and make learning and education more fun for children
3) Supporting and improving infrastructure needs of the Anganwadis so that they provide children a safe place and environment to get kindergarten education.
First, a brief background on how I started this project. My native place is Murdeshwar, a small coastal village in Karnataka popular for its Shiva temple and beautiful beach surrounding this temple. I visit my native place very often so I befriended children across various age groups. While playing one day with local children, I wondered why, unlike most school agers, none of these children go to school on a weekday? I asked them and they said that they help their parents with work at home, fishing or on a farm and therefore don’t get time to go to school. Many of them also dropped out of school for various reasons. It was then clear to me that these children are not aware of how education can play such an important role in shaping their lives. I was saddened by their lack of learning opportunities.
A few weeks later, while walking on the beach I heard children chatting and studying in a small shed under the supervision of an adult. Curious, I went in and learned that this place is an Anganwadi, i.e., it is a government aided pre-school and the Anganwadi program is specially focused on integrated child development, including feeding children up to two meals a day and sending home a meal to their mothers. Bingo! Here was an established platform to get rural children educated. After further research I discovered there are about 60,000 Anganwadis across India and there are 10 such Anganwadis in Murdeshwar alone.
Upon speaking to the childrens’ parents, teachers and Anganwadi workers I learned that there are many issues and challenges which need to be addressed to unlock the full potential of this network and so was seeded my project Sankalpa, to serve as the umbrella program to improve the lives of rural children, making the imaginable possible for a brighter and better tomorrow for them. #Sankalpasiksha will focus on starting education at the right time for rural children by leveraging the Anganwadi network set up by the government.
My immediate goal is to do a pilot project at two Anganwadis within Murdeshwar and bring in at least 20 – 25 additional children who are not getting schooling. I have started working with the Anganwadi teachers and workers, as well as child development program officers from the government, with the collective aim of improving the infrastructure at both Anganwadis so that they have a proper kitchen for the mid-day meals, access to clean drinking water and proper chairs, desks and school supplies for the teachers and students. There are about 20 children in each Anganwadi where this infrastructure needs to be improved on a war footing and hence my quest for crowd funding to facilitate this change. The funds raised and expended will be open to scrutiny, and cover costs for desks, chairs, school supplies, kitchen and building upgrades etc. I am volunteering my time except that my costs of travelling to Murdeshwar and back home to Bengaluru will be covered by the project.
Based on what we learn from and the degree of success in this project, I aim to promote scaling up to other rural areas within Karnataka and possibly all over India. Thank you so much for reading my story. I look forward to your support so that together we can make the imaginable possible for a brighter and a better tomorrow for these disadvantaged children.
Sonal Kalyanpur, Grade 9