Vedic Foundation - Mission

Welcome to the Vedic Foundation blog, here you will get to know about the various social initiatives we are working on.

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Monday, July 8, 2013

Balavidya Notebook Drive 2013 - Thank you for your support!

We are delighted to share with you that we have successfully completed this year’s Notebook Drive Initiative. 
Notebooks are an essential aid for learning. And many children from rural Govt. schools are unable to afford basic amenities, like notebooks and stationary, which becomes a deterrent in their learning process. The Notebooks Drive Initiative focuses on providing underprivileged children from Govt. Lower Primary Schools essential notebooks and stationary for the new academic year.

  • This year we distributed over 5000 notebooks to 900 children in 25 remote rural government schools in Bangarpet
  • This is over two times more than the number of children we reached out to last year, and ten times more than the number of children when we started off four years ago. 
  • This year, apart from notebooks, we also distributed stationary – pencils, erasers, scales, pencil boxes and crayons for all students.
  • The notebooks drive event was also covered by many local and state newspapers, this was very encouraging.
  • We were touched by the efforts of Transera Communications (Bangalore), who not only raised funds for the Notebook Drive this year, but also drove down to Bangarpet to sort and distribute the notebooks and stationary to the children personally. A group of five volunteers gave away over 300 notebooks to delighted children.

An initiative of this scale is not possible to execute single-handedly. Many hands have reached out to us and in turn to these children to make sure that they don’t miss out on such basic amenities, that many of us take for granted. 

Thank you for your trust, encouragement and support.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Mission Admission

The last day in the month of May when the summer heat has reduced and the breeze is turning cool, the Govt Lower Primary Schools here at Bangarpet taluk, Karnataka, get ready to reopen after the summer vacations. Preparations for reopening the schools in villages here are more like preparing for a festive day with traditional ceremonies in the village.

I visited one such Lower Primary School today. The senior girls of the school were cleaning the front yard. They smeared the moist earth with cow dung and made elaborate "Rangoli" patterns on the green canvas. The girls enjoy this activity so much.

The boys on the other hand were helping them by bringing water and tidying up the class rooms, arranging the benches and cleaning the black board. A few were even searching for the missing "cane" in the classroom. The cane is more like an antique in the classroom, it is not used these days by teachers as there are strict rules against physical punishments of any kind, but still the cane has its place on the table.

There was excitement in the air mixed with the smell of fresh books and clothes. On the first day of school, books and uniforms are distributed and new admissions are done. I saw all the familiar faces today waiting to find out their new places in the classroom.
Rajeshwari, their teacher and my associate was showing them their new places and arranging her class. I stood at the door watching the children change places, move across and settle down. It suddenly made me feel that I am looking at a chess board and the children are pawns. All the pawns were the same just outside the room, it did not matter who is who in the game, but now it mattered.

Rajeshwari had requested me to come over to the school today to help her with campaigning inside the village to encourage parents to admit their children to the Govt Lower Primary School (LPS) in the village. She is a long time associate and has always facilitated all the activities of Vedic Foundation and today I wanted to help her in her work though this is not part of the regular activities of the Foundation. The idea of chess board blurred and we set out into the village to invite parents to admit their children in the school.

Narrow lanes, children running around, hens and goats causing traffic, women doing their chores in front of their huts and rural homes was the scene of our surrounding. The Panchayat had already informed the villagers about the admissions being open and the improvements in the school facilities etc. Rajeshwari was doing an extra bit to gather interest in the matter. As we walked, I asked her why she wants to go door to door.
She said these people won’t send their children to the school easily. Before she could say more we had reached the first door that we had to knock, Rajeshwari started the conversation, she said "Akka ( sister) why don’t you send your son to our school? We now have English and we teach it well, you don’t have to send your children to the convents for English sake"

The lady smiled in an inert way. "Come see the school now, spend some time with the children there and see for yourself that a lot has changed in the school over past few years", I added to what Rajeshwari said, hoping to read a better response in the lady's face. It had no great effect.

We both walked to the next house and asked if there are kids of school going age and we said the same things in many different ways. We went to many houses and now it was more like getting a hang of the situation in the village.

It was afternoon by the time we spoke to many, some showing interest, some not, with all the mixed responses and flavors we entered a street that seemed very lively, lots of kids in the street, some playing, some running around. We both were hoping to have a discussion with the parents. Time was in our favor and most parents were at home for lunch.
We entered the first house in the street and got to speak to the father of two boys and one girl all in the age group of 5 to 10 yrs. He wished that his children studied in the convent.

I asked him "there is free mid-day meal, books, uniform and several other learning and teaching materials provided by the govt. The school is near by, the teacher is capable and caring, the syllabus also has English and the teacher is fluent in it, the children in this school already speak English. The campus is good, the rooms are well maintained, there are many toys in the school, there is even a classroom library, then why would you not send your children to this school?"

He said "Madam, I am a laborer  my wife also works in the fields, we have seen the hard times and still seeing them, we really cannot afford convent schools but still we are squeezing sweat and blood to some home make sure that all the three children go to convents. In convent schools they will study with children like your daughter, they will have different friends and some how they will make it much better than us in this world"

The heat was building again; both I and Rajeshwari were more silent as we walked, Rajeshwari broke the silence and said that the children who go to convents don’t mingle much with the other children in the village who study in the Govt. School. I once again started to see the chess board where the “who is who” mattered.
Right then, we came across an old woman and her grandson, she stopped us and said that she was coming to the school to meet Rajeshwari. A big smile ran through Rajeshwari's face, it took me a while to get to her smile; it was the case of a new admission.

The old lady said “we trust you – the teacher, here is my grandson make a good child out of him, I am not educated, I don’t know much, but teach him well". Thus Naveen became the first boy to join first standard in the batch 2013-14.
His enthusiasm to come to school dressed as best as he can just made our day. (Check the picture).

The rest of the time we discussed why parents are not willing to send children to these Govt schools:
- Not all schools are well maintained or functioning in a healthy manner with good and responsible teachers. This causes lack of trust in the villagers.
- The simple equation of learner and learning-environment is lost to fancy modern amenities and facilities in private / convent schools.
- The need for English in every walk of life outside the village.
- The great hope that education in a convent /private school is a step towards crossing the bridge and moving to a higher economic / social strata.

- Aganvadis which are supposed to be functioning as pre-primary set-up in villages are very poor in infrastructure, facilities and maintenance in many cases, this leads people to seek out other nursery schools etc which in turn makes migrating to convents a more natural step.

Poor Condition of the Aganvadi in the village
We soon finished the parade around the village discussing these points and with many thoughts in mind I took leave from Rajeshwari and returned home.
Upon coming back I came to know that one of my daughter’s friend is changing her school, her parents are getting her admission in an "International School"

That chess board once again came to my mind in a much bigger way and I wondered what sort of a "game" is this.