Educating underprivileged children of Tribal & Rural areas with Ekal Vidyalayas

By auther pic. Smita Singh

December 31, 2019

Educating underprivileged children of Tribal & Rural areas with Ekal Vidyalayas

Underprivileged children of tribal and rural areas attending the Ekal Vidyalaya started by FTS

Right to Education is our human right. Regardless of continuous progress in the past few years, education has still been denied by millions of children. Limited access to education is among the major causes of transmitting poverty from generation to generation. Education is a vital human right, enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Every boy and every girl should have the right and access to a quality education so that they can explore more opportunities in life, including employment, better health and also in the development of society. In one of the surveys by UNESCO, around 0.9 Billion people in the world cannot read or write. 0.287 Billion or 32% of the world's illiterate people are Indian population. And it has been evaluated that more than half of India’s population lacks even basic education and literacy skills.


Not all children are provided with an equal chance for an education. So, to empower these deprived children, EkalVidyalaya, started by Friends of Tribal Society (FTS), came up with an objective of educating underprivileged children of Tribal and Rural areas. The Ekal movement is the largest grassroots, non-government education in India, operating schools in 19 states and providing free education for over 13,33,542 children as on 31.10.2019 in the poorest and remote corners of India, through 54,612 EkalVidyalaya.


EkalVidyalaya’s story is very interesting. In the late 1980s, years after independence, prevailed lack of education and poverty in the mainstays of rural/tribal life. Urban India was developing but the rural/tribal counterpart still did not see much of positive changes in the life of its inhabitants. This prompted a few like-minded individuals to get together and start a grassroots level movement, these social activists then came up with a concept of ‘one teacher school', or EkalVidyalaya..


When they wanted to start regular schools, getting teachers in rural areas was very difficult as urban dwellers were not interested to work in rural areas. Opening schools in cities would not have helped. Thus, the concept of EkalVidyalaya took birth. It started first with the village areas of Jharkhand. This movement came to be known as the Ekal Movement.


The main objective of this school is to provide complete education to the children coming from tribal and rural areas by component educators. The programme includes basic literature, arithmetic, science and languages. In addition to that, it also includes topics on health and hygiene, physical activities and yoga and basic life hacks. The curriculum is designed in the simplest way and is taught in the local language using local incidents as examples. EkalVidyalayas at present, it is the most unique and largest organisation working for the children in villages of India.


Students of Ekal Vidyalaya engaging in extra curricular activities


EkalVidyalayas do not accept any funds from the Government. Funds are raised through a heterogeneous group of donors, comprising of corporates, trusts and individuals. Each of the ‘One teacher schools’ (OTS) are sponsored for INR 20,000 a year, at a time. In the last financial year, a total of 4424 donors sponsored 32,536 vidyalayas. Most of the supporters are associated with the NGO for a number of years. They keep encouraging their supporters. During 2018-19, 41% of the donation came from members, as individual or corporate.


This non-formal school model is much different from the ordinary image of a school and challenges the constraints in the education sector. The main component in EkalVidyalaya School is learning and teaching and not buildings and its setups. It is essential to have proper infrastructural support, but the absence of it shouldn’t have to impose limitations on the learning element.


With this remarkable volunteer support, the EkalVidyalaya movement goes all the way out to create a network of educators for imparting literary programs that will educate and empower children in rural and tribal parts of India. With the contribution of various non-profit trusts and organizations, this EkalVidyalay’s program has now become the greatest education movement in the country.


Sajan Bansal, President at EkalVidyalaya says – “I joined FTS about 23 years ago as a donor and went on a visit to one of the EkalVidyalayas in Gumla, Jharkhand. I witnessed for myself that the children were studying happily and the villagers were delighted. I was a donor then but now I am the National President of the organisation. I hope and request everyone to join hand with our organisation and help in taking the movement forward."


Ekal Yuva Membership Meet on 10th Oct, 2019


The volunteers not only convey basic education among children of inaccessible areas but also instructs the importance of individual sanitation, hygiene on one hand and moral ethics on the other. EkalVidyalaya focuses on enabling them to have a wider perspective and cultivate a sense of responsibility towards their country.


Like any other organization, increasing its reach, EkalVidyalaya also has to face a few challenges. Finding skilled workers for the fieldwork and engaging with them to keep the members active is challenging. Most of the teachers at EkalVidyalaya are female and are given rigorous and quality training. However, them getting married and leaving the organization, hampers the growth. Maintaining regular contact with all the chapters (branches) for continuity of the work is, at times, bit difficult.


This promise to teach the unaccessed children of the villages and tribal areas hasencouraged innovative support schemes. Many of the ex-students of EkalVidyalaya are now passing out of college/Universities and getting all support for employment. Making them job-ready will be a major change in their activity. Collection of basic information to formulate a policy for the same has already been started. The major involvement of information technology has been planned and also being implemented to carry out the increased work volume as the number of EkalVidyalays has upturned from 26,590 on 31.03.2015 to 54,612 on 31.10.2019.


Volunteers at Ekal have taken this mission as a challenge and have started putting efforts towards this.


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Smita currently finished her masters from Economics Major. Being an introvert personality, writing suits best to her. She has vivid experience in the content area from writing research papers to writing content for various websites, blogs & stories. Smita has worked for a Patna based digital marketing company named DigiwaleBabu.


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