“I figured out that value based education is the key to bringing a change and that is why I opened a PRAYOG library,” says Surya.
Engaging KidsThe best way to reach out to kids was by offering them something which they had never experienced before. Hence, PRAYOG library was set up in a community open space in June 2013. The first day saw a mere five students walking in haltingly but within a year’s time, the library was a hit and saw a regular footfall of around 400 students. The books covered a vast range. From newspapers to weekly and monthly magazines, the books were offered to the students according to their choice. Another initiative that helped Surya in grabbing people’s attention was exposure visits.
The second exposure trip was organized with 15 students to Bhutan, which again was a big success. “We pick students who deserve to be part of this trip. Now, when students see the advantages of learning, they take part in various activities in order to get shortlisted for these trips,” says Surya. The PRAYOG team also prepares kids for debates and motivates them to be socially aware.
“We took around five students to Parivartan NGO for a 4-5 days exposure trip where kids learnt yoga, dancing, painting. This was a great confidence booster for the kids, and more students started getting connected with us,” he says.
“We gave them a topic ‘how to create a model village?’ and the kids were required to write on this. The way they expressed their feelings was tremendous. It is great to see that these kids are now taking part in the welfare of their village,” he says.
How did he do it?Surya identified two major problems: education and electricity. “Most of the villagers were illiterate; they did not consider their children’s education as their priority. There was a serious lack of interest from parents’ and students’ side and we needed to change that,” he says.Apart from lack of awareness, a low teacher-student ratio was another challenge. “Kids were more willing to attend tuition classes than school,” Surya explains.This problem was solved through an interesting initiative which involved older students mentoring the younger ones. Surya identified potential students of higher classes and asked them to adopt 4-5 younger kids. The extra attention helped these kids to a great extent and there was a significant change in the attendance in schools.Another victory that came Surya’s way was when he noticed the caste system which was followed by every community in the village and decided to do something about it. One day when Surya came to the village, women of a backward community gathered around him and asked him, “Are our kids not entitled to attend your library?”Surya was shocked and asked them what made them think so.“The kids from higher communities do not allow our kids to enter the class,” said one of the ladies.Surya immediately took all the students who wanted to attend the library with him and gave a lesson on history and caste system of India to all his students. He also explained to them how every individual should have access to equal rights.
Apart from education, another challenge came with electricity. As there was no electricity in the village, students who wanted to study after school hours could not do so. To solve the issue, the PRAYOG team distributed 10 solar lamps to students who had won an essay writing competition. “We saw that those students were sharing lamps with other students too. And we thought that this could be a solution to the problem,” he says.This inspired PRAYOG to start a fundraising campaign on Milaap to raise funds for purchasing 200 solar lamps. A basic solar study lamp costs Rs.450 and the entire project would need Rs.90,000 to become operational. He has managed to raise around Rs.30,000 so far and is hoping to get more help to reach his goal. The campaign will close in 12 days.
“Today, the same kids from all the communities stay together in the same room during exposure visits, hug each other, and share their food. It is a great achievement,” Surya says.