Under its flagship Rural Education Program (REP), SRF Foundation is supporting children and youth to realise their full potential and create equal opportunities, participate in and benefit from India’s economy by ensuring quality education.
In 2009, SRF Foundation identified Nuh, one of the districts in Mewat, Haryana. The education status in the villages is only restricted to primary school. Therefore, SRF Foundation brought about significant changes. Under its Model School Initiative, the organization is working to plug in gaps of inclusivity and regularity of students in Government schools through academic, digital and infrastructural upgrades.
Initially, the Foundation changed the face of the schools to make it more attractive for the students. The situation of the govt. schools in Mewat were not favourable. There were no provisions for clean drinking water, toilets, play equipment in the playground, desks or furniture in the classrooms. The outlook of the school was also boring. Hence, as a first step, the Foundation decided to beautify the school through renovating the structure, painting classrooms, painting BaLA (Building as Learning Aid) on the walls, creating mini labs for science, math, computers and libraries. ‘Avishkar, a Mobile Science Van’ is another unique initiative of the Foundation. Fitted with interesting science equipment, models, a projector and a sound system, the van is utilised to promote science education through the provision of equipment, technology and methods that are usually not available in schools.
With such significant goals to help learning to take place, the schools were also provided with appropriate sanitation and access to clean drinking water. Further, to make schooling more fun, swings were added for primary school children while playgrounds were built for the senior students so that they can spend more time in school, play, interact and build relationships. Favourable playing environment is created in the schools through the installation of sports equipment. The playgrounds also have the provision of solar lights so that students can utilise the spaces even at night.
This physical transformation of schools created a buzz in the village and assisted in increasing the student’s enrolment. Further, to enhance the quality of education in the schools, SRF Foundation created provisions for academic, digital and leadership transformation. The student’s learning was enhanced by providing specially designed workbooks which are designed to understand and practice academic concepts for class 1-8 based on their school curriculum. Especially designed activities to enhance basic academic competency skills, ‘Khel Khel Mein Shiksha’ program was also introduced for students from class 3 to 8 who perform below grade level or need additional assistance to stay on track. To foster reading skills among students, ‘Kahaniyo Ka Pitara’ or ‘Reading Club’ were formed in schools providing students books according to their reading levels. To keep students engaged even during the time of summer and winter vacations, ‘Pathan Chaupal’ was conducted to give access to library books in the community.
Furthermore, various extra-curricular activities and clubs were introduced through the program. Science Clubs, Swachhta Committees, Reading Clubs were made to encourage leadership and participation among the students while also teaching important lessons about sanitation, the power of science and philosophy. Beyond these, SRF Foundation imparts leadership and curriculum training to the teachers, headmasters and School Management Committees (SMCs) in order to raise the quality of teaching-learning process thus creating the best possible learning environment in schools. To strengthen the SMCs even more, monthly workshops on various aspects of building school community such as exposure visits to other locations and educational tours in order to enhance and share best practices is organised for them.
To increase learning levels among students and develop interest in the process of learning, the Foundation implemented 47 Digital Classrooms in 27 schools across 13 villages in 2021. These Digital Classrooms are established by renovating classrooms and installing Smart LEDs, UPS, Tabs and providing pen drives with pre-installed content. Since, the equipment are new to the teachers, the Foundation provided digital training to efficiently run these classrooms with ease. The Foundation has also established Digital Innovation Hub in Mewat providing teachers in the village a chance to digitally equip themselves. The Hub will be utilized by the teachers who will be creating academic e-content for students.
To help students stay motivated and access education during the pandemic, SRF Foundation initiated a unique blended model of offline and online education. To help students who do not have access to digital infrastructure, teachers went from street to street teaching a limited number of students in open spaces while following COVID-19 protocols through the Mohalla Class initiative and distributed books to students through Community Library initiative. Avishkar Mobile Science Van was also utilised for Mohalla Classes and Vigyan Chaupal.
The Foundation also focussed on developing a strong relationship between the school and community. Community members were mobilised and engaged through village panchayat and monthly meetings where they were informed about the development going on in the schools and were motivated to become a part of it.
To ensure 100% enrolment of dropouts and out of school students, the Foundation also organises ‘Pravesh Utsav’ every year. Currently, the program is reaching out to 14,598 students in Mewat, Haryana. Mewat has been the test bed location of SRF Foundation. Taking the learning from Mewat forward, the Rural Education Program is now being implemented in 24 locations across 12 states.
It is pivotal for students to have schools in good conditions to achieve an all-round development. The characteristics of a good school is one which visibly and substantially improves the community it is embedded in. With detailed value courses and an enhanced infrastructure, SRF Foundation hopes to provide quality education in the government schools of Mewat and witness the children of the village attend school to fulfil their dreams.