A simple story on 5 local government schools
Siddapura: 3 teachers, 130 kids, Grades 1-7 all packed into 3 rooms.
Major issue: lack of space. The school will probably be shifted out of here and space created for a hospital. But nobody is sure when the move will happen. Until then we have to manage in very cramped surroundings.
Varthur: 980 Kids, Grades 8-10
Major needs: Library, Computer Lab, Science Lab
Nellurhalli: 280 kids, 4 teachers, Grades 1-7
Major needs: Very cramped school. A new campus has been under construction for a very long time. Half the work is completed but it is no shape for the school to shift there.
Ramagondanahalli (RGH): 6 teachers, 190 kids Grades 1-7. Set on a large ground, on Whitefield Road one cant help but wonder at the potential. Children come here primarily incented for the mid-day meal provided by Akshaya Patra.
Major issues: Their low boundary wall interspersed with openings makes it easy for miscreants to utilize the property anyway they like. There is vandalism, regular dumping of massive amounts of garbage, open defecation and a gathering ground for local drinking at night. You can imagine the sight that greets the children in the morning and the environment it provides for learning.
Imadahalli – 700 kids, Grades 8-10.
Great Support from many NGOs and citizens.
We started working with them about 5 years ago and have grown to 40 odd regular volunteers with 5 people at its core. Our aim for the near term is to allow for each and every child in these schools to be a responsible self-reliant citizen.
For this, we hope to provide them with basic amenities and equip them with basic life skills with focus on getting them comfortable with the English language. That’s all. And even that is so amazingly hard to do – unless of course you want to help us too.
What we achieved to date.
- 1. A dedicated team of volunteers who work with children in all three primary schools twice a week to teach English.
- 2. A dedicated science volunteer team that works with Agastya team to ensure science lab activity every week at schools.
- 3. Set up computer labs at RGH and Siddapura schools. Hired a computer teacher for the two schools and kids from grades 5,6,7 get an hour of computer class every week.
- 4. Started the Agastya Lab on Bike program with support from Rotary and a few individual donors. Kids from grades 5,6,7get one hour of hands on science every week with professional Agastya instructor.
- 5. Set up libraries at RGH, Siddapura & Immedihalli schools. Kids get one hour of intensive focused reading sessions during the Library period every Saturday (5 kids per volunteer). Set up in association with Hippocampus Reading foundation at RGH.
- 6. Maintain Library room and supplied bookshelves at RGH.
- 7. Annual repair and maintenance of toilets to ensure running water in the taps and usable toilets. This year Symphony Teleca has funded this project.
- 8. Regular supply of clean drinking water (maintain water filters, clean up the tanks, replaced motors)
- 9. Employed maid at RGH for cleaning up and maintaining the premises.
- 10. Converted a mucky central area into a nice open courtyard where children can have their meals and also have open air classroom sessions.
- 11. Organized an extra set of uniforms for children at two primary schools by bearing stitching charges
- 12. Shoes being supplied to children at all three primary schools funded by Symphony Teleca
- 13. Organized Dental camp for children at RGH
What keeps us going?
It is the enthusiasm of the children and dedication of our volunteers that keeps us going in spite of all the challenges we face.
One of our science volunteers worked single handedly with about 20 children at Varthur High School last year and all of them scored more than 75% marks in their exams. Inspired by her efforts we now have a dedicated team of science volunteers working with children at Varthur High School.
We need funds to
- buy books and stationery for children for English classes
- pay the computer teacher
- maintain and upgrade the labs and the libraries
- maintain toilets
- employ maids
- take care of small but high impact infrastructure requirements (e.g. central courtyard at RGH, painting and pest control at the schools, toilet repairs etc.)
- organize for uniforms & shoes
- sponsor school trips and picnics for the children
How we raise funds
Apart from looking for corporate funding for specific large projects we raise funds of our own to meet some of our requirements through Book Sales (used books), Bakes sales, and cultural events put up by our volunteers.
What would help:
Common issues at all schools
1) Family Influence: The parents of most of the children that go to the school are anything but involved. Worse, many fathers spend most of their hard earned money on alcohol further impacting their precarious lives. We need a group of volunteers that will understand this problem, look at how others in the country have solved this problem and help us come up with a holistic plan. How can we encourage the family to adopt a new set of habits? Hygiene, focus on education, medical care and the like.
2) The children at the High School desperately need some career guidance. We are looking for organizations to come in and conduct focused career guidance workshops for children in the High Schools. This will give them a clear path for their careers and motivate them to work harder.
3) We currently work as “Volunteers” with the government schools. However, what would be great is if we could fully adopt them. We would love for you to research this potential and help us get there.
4) Children from Ramagondanahalli and Siddhapura schools will benefit greatly from going to the Imadahalli High School next year. However, most wont! This is because of a simple but solvable problem. How to get there? Immadahalli is down the Prestige Ozone road with no bus service to it. We need someone to understand this problem and come up with a solution. Work with BMTC? Make this a CSR project for a local company? Anything.
5) All schools need repairs for leakages, electric wiring audit, painting and pest control done. Govt provides nominal funds ( about 5 to 10K) per school annually which is not even sufficient for one room.
Specific needs of schools
Ramagondanhalli School (RGH)
1) The Ramagondanahalli School badly needs a boundary wall estimated to be around 11 lakhs. This will solve the vandalism problem greatly. Can you help?
2) The school has ample space and a large playground but no proper place for children to have meals and wash up after their lunch. We are looking to extend the central courtyard and also provide a roof so this can be used as a regular dining and assembly area. Further, we have earmarked an area for washing up after lunch. We need to provide flooring, sinks and taps to make this usable.
1) Need three more rooms and toilets built in the new campus. Further, need to work with the Block Education Officer to facilitate shifting into the new campus.
2) The current campus has a large open terrace that can be covered up and used as a dining area until the new campus is made available.
Need to work with the local MLA and Corporator to figure out how to get them to either move into a new campus or upgrade infrastructure at this campus to accommodate all the children.
They are building rooms with funding from Alumni and local residents. We need to help them get a Computer Lab, a Library and a full fledged Science Lab to serve so many children.