MUMBAI: Mr. Richard Bale, Consul General of Canada in Mumbai, inaugurated a new school building at the Nareshwadi Learning Centre at Dhundhalwadi in Dahanu Taluka, a school for the tribal students from villages in a radius of 45 km.
Ms. Nargis Jamal, President Women’s Empowerment International Foundation, Canada and Shri Samir S Somaiya Chairman, Girivanvasi Educational Trust was also present on the occasion. Women’s Empowerment International Foundation (WEIF), Edmonton, Canada, Community Initiatives Program (CIP), Government of Alberta, Canada and the Somaiya Trust have contributed toward building the school.
The Nareshwadi Learning Centre campus is in the midst of the Girivanvasi Pragati Mandal’s (GVPM) Experimental Farm surrounded by paddy fields and a fruit orchard abundant with mango, coconut and chickoo (sapota) trees, contributing to an ambience of spontaneous creativity and learning.
The school is situated on a plot measuring roughly 20494 sq ft and is a ground plus first floor structure. There are 10 classrooms each 660 sq ft, a principal’s office, a headmaster’s office, staff room, school admin office and washrooms on each floor for girls and boys and drinking water facility.
The computer lab is located in the Vocational Education & Training Centre (VETC). There is a sports ground on campus and ample recreational space. Two large exterior walls of the school have 6 murals done by Reena Valvi, a leading Warli artist in the district. The school is approved by the Zilla Parishad and follows the SSC system/syllabus.
Children enrolled at Nareshwadi are from underprivileged families, aged 5 to 17 years. Ninety-five per cent are from the local Warli tribal community with the rest from Dodhi, Katkari, Kokana and other communities. Of the 775 school children 411 live on campus and the rest are day scholars from neighbouring villages.
The students are tribal and come from villages in a radius of 45 km.
About 2% of the children are non-tribal orphans placed by the Children’s Welfare Committee. Girls’ enrolment is 46 % and there are no dropouts. All education and residence is provided free of cost. 47% of NLC staff is women and 45% are from tribal heritage.
Performance at the Board exams has risen from 13% to an average 95% over the past 5 years.
Mr. Samir Somaiya, Chairman, Somaiya Trust said, “This new building is an extension of our initiatives to deliver quality education to the underprivileged students to help them fulfill their potential.
It is especially wonderful to see our students here today, engaging in sports, arts and science. The support of the Canadian Government in these initiatives has further motivated the team. We are planning to build new hostel building at Somaiya Vidyavihar campus and 50 beds in that hostel will be reserved for students of Nareshwadi. ”
Says Patricia Gokhale, CEO, Nareshwadi Learning Centre “The community’s involvement, the commitment of the faculty, the dedication of the students all have combined to make Nareshawdi a special place”.
Said Richard Bale, Consul General of Canada “I am glad to see this wonderful collection of boys & girls enjoying equal privilege/ benefit. The Canada Government is happy to support GVET in its initiatives of the upliftment of people in rural India, while retaining the strong sense of culture.
Said Ms. Nargis Jamal, President Women’s Empowerment International Foundation, Canada “In 2010, we got introduced to GVET and our partnership has strengthened due to the teamwork by GVET, Somaiya Trust and Community Initiatives Program (CIP). Speaking to the students she said, “As you have opportunity and access to facilities, work hard, go to University and achieve your dreams. “