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Chirag School

Campaign by Central Himalayan Rural Action Group (CHIRAG)

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Story

In Uttarakhand, the major responsibility for elementary education remains with the state, with approximately 1.8 million children enrolled in over twenty-two thousand government schools. Government-run primary schools, especially those located in the remote interiors of the state are plagued by many systematic issues: teacher absenteeism and the lack of motivation, administrative duties, infrastructural facilities or teaching aids. In the absence of adequate monitoring or infrastructural support, the quality of education being provided then becomes solely dependent on the individual motivation levels of the government appointed teacher.

Education in India is in crisis, various studies have highlighted the fact that Indian students underperfom on tests meant to gauge MLLs. It is worth mentioning that more often than not, the children (often girls) who study in government-run primary schools are the ones who belong to the poorest, most disenfranchised households in a community. These children are also not privy to the kind of educational support that other children belonging to more privileged houses get. Thus there is a need to ensure that the education being provided at the school engages and evokes curiousity. Chirag focuses on primary school education because the organization believes that a strong base is fundamental.

CHIRAG runs a small primary school called Chirag School. This school is inspired by J. Krishnamurthy's philosophy on education and aspires to provide a caring and stimulating environment to children from financially disadvantaged backgrounds where they can develop their body, mind and soul and practice living in harmony with nature, society and the self.

Chirag School also acts as the model school for CHIRAG's education outreach program called the Bal Shikshak (Auxiliary teacher) program. The programme runs in over 65 government primary schools (located in remote Himalayan villages) wherein the student to teacher ratio is more than 30:1. Bal Shikshaks are usually youth from the same community where the school is located and are appointed in consultation with the teachers and the School Management Committee. The Bal Shikshaks not only assist the Government appointed teacher but also run a library enrichment programme which tries to instill a love for reading amongst young children. The aim of the project is to improve the quality of education imparted at the primary level and build a strong foundation for advance learning. Chirag School organizes workshops and trainings on pedagogy, child behaviour, modern teaching aids etc for the Bal Shikshaks, and together with the community contributes towards the remuneration due to the Bal Shikshaks.

In Chirag School 94.1% of the children in class 2 can read at grade level as compared to the national average of 13.4% and 94% of class 5 students in Chirag School can do simple division as compared to the national average of 25.9% (national data from Annual Status of Education Report 2016).

In the Balshikshak Programme there is a significant difference between the learning levels of children studying in project supported schools vs those in non-supported schools. There has also been an improvement in the number of library books checked out by students as well as attendance levels.

Community participation in selection, monitoring and remuneration process means higher degree of involvement in the education process

Bal Shikshaks are unemployed youth (usually girls) belonging to the same village. The programme provides them an employment opportunity and an opportunity to contribute to their community. Many of these Balshikshaks have gone on to complete their B.Ed and become full time teachers.

Organisers
Central Himalayan Rural Action Group (CHIRAG)

Central Himalayan Rural Action Group (CHIRAG)

Beneficiary Charity

Radhakanta Meher

Radhakanta Meher

Organiser

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