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Ensuring holistic development through the Great India Talent School

By auther pic. CSRBOX

September 28, 2022

Ensuring holistic development through the Great India Talent School

Great India Talent School

In Bengaluru, Karnataka, the Akshaya Patra Foundation began giving Mid-day meals to approximately 1500 schoolchildren in five government schools in early 2002. Twenty years later, more than 1.8 million school children in 16856   government schools across 14 states and 2 union territories receive hot meals from 61 locations to combat childhood hunger. The foundation was established in 2001 in response to a Supreme Court order to ensure that no child is left hungry and is encouraged to attend school.

Similarly, the right to education is also a human right and indispensable for the exercise of other human rights. No child should be left behind in terms of education; thus, a concerted effort was required to fulfill this goal.

In this context role of foundations that are working towards development, and initiatives stand out. One such foundation which is doing remarkable work is the Great India Talent Foundation, which is run by the group of trustees who run the Akshaya Patra Foundation, which is the world’s largest NGO-run School Meal Program.

Great India Talent School (GITS) is an initiative by GITF   to nurture the natural inclinations of children and provide a holistic education, enabling them to secure a better future for themselves, their family, and their community. This initiative is in collaboration with the Government of Tripura, The Akshaya Patra Foundation, donors, and the local community.

The idea is to aspire to educate, enable, and empower children of rural communities in India by setting up multiple educational institutions that will provide them with the options to pursue higher education in their fields of interest while remaining grounded.

The first Great India Talent School (also known as Mahan Bharat Pratibha Vidyalaya) was inaugurated in Kashirampara, Tripura, on March 29, 2017. We started by providing education from Class LKG to Class 3 with 350 students. GITS Kashirampara currently serves about 700 children from Class LKG to Class 8, predominantly from Naisingpara and Ashapara refugee camps in Tripura.  The majority of these youngsters are members of the Reang tribe, the largest tribal community in Tripura, and most are first-generation students. These children have equal access to quality education and books as children in urban regions of the nation.

The children from Kashirampara and the surrounding areas get education in English medium, textbooks, notebooks, uniforms, shoes, socks, sweaters, school bags, and mid-day meals entirely free of cost. Medical camps are organised to provide free check-ups, immunisations, etc., for students and teachers regularly with appropriate follow-ups. We also distributed essential grocery relief kits to the students of GITS and their families during the pandemic.

GITS adheres to the CBSE syllabus and children are provided fresh, hot and nutritious meals with varied menus from the Akshaya Patra kitchen. This addresses classroom hunger and improves their concentration levels, thus enhancing their learning capacities. Great India Talent School (GITS) also contributes to the socio-economic development of the Reang community by providing employment opportunities to local youth and women in GITS and the Akshaya Patra kitchen.

Impact on beneficiaries

Access to Education: GITS has enabled children in and around the region of Tripura to enjoy their learning process. An adequate student-teacher ratio facilitates teachers to provide individual attention to every student. GITS includes children from all walks of life, particularly children with disabilities. It is a platform where all children from the region are welcome irrespective of their challenges.

Nutritious mid-day meals

The mid-day meal programme has been a crucial intervention in achieving the nutrition and education outcomes of the project. The school lunch initiative from Akshaya Patra has increased the enrolment, attendance, and retention of students. The nutritious meals prepared and served according to the local food preferences have effectively addressed classroom hunger and improved their concentration levels and learning capacities. We have observed that for many children, this is the first and only unlimited meal of the day. We have been able to exceed the prescribed nutrition norms consistently. 

Personality Development: Today’s children are tomorrow’s citizens. GITS provides an enriching learning experience that will enhance their personality. There is a healthy competition between students, which helps in the positive growth of children in terms of physical, emotional, and psychological aspects.

Exposure and opportunities: GITS encourages activity-based learning, a focused teaching-learning approach, team building, and the exhibition of the talents of students. These children will also be well equipped to participate in external competitions with their exposure in school.

The achievement of the initiative is in alignment with Sustainable Development Goals. The initiative would make progress on Goal 1: No Poverty, Goal 2: Zero Hunger, Goal 3: Good Health and Well Being, and  Goal 4: Quality Education.

Beneficiaries:

Tukaram Reang aged 13 years comes from humble means; his father is a farmer and domestic help and his mother earns through weaving and selling traditional attire, known as ‘rignai. Reang aspires to become a doctor as there are no doctors in his village and people have to travel a long distance to find one. He has a special interest in learning languages. His siblings also study in the same school. His parents could not afford to send their children to a private school. They are now happy and relieved due to GITS’s initiatives that provide everything from books to education free of cost.

Rosmirung Apeto aged 13 years aspires to become a teacher and educate students of her village. She is the youngest child in her family. Her siblings are also enrolled in GITS. She is excited to learn new things and is interested in understanding the solar system and early humans. Rosmirung’s mother is happy that her daughter is a quick learner and ensures that she has enough time to concentrate on her studies. Rosmirung desires to become a teacher and help children who are unable to attend school.

Long term goal of the program

Eventually, the Great India Talent School hopes to create a vibrant learning community of more than 50,000 students and staff through the following projects:

  • A Free residential school from Grade 5 to 12 for children.
  • A free residential polytechnic institute for students to learn technical and non-technical vocations after Grade 10.
  • A free residential college for Arts, Science, Computer Applications, and Commerce.
  • A free residential college for Arts, Music, Dance, and Theatre.
  • Financial support to the community by marketing the local bamboo products through ISKCON and Akshaya Patra in India and abroad.
  • Harnessing the vast potential of the children in the Northeast in the field of sports by setting up coaching camps and a sports academy.
  • Establish integrated organic Agrifarm to meet the requirement of the Akshaya Patra Kitchen and help children get acquainted with nature and conservation.
  • Introduce floriculture, horticulture, and other similar projects to help the community as a whole.
  • The people behind the Great India Talent School (GITS) believe that the model would be implemented in other regions of the country, on similar lines, to deliver high-quality, holistic education.

     

     

    Also Read: From the Margins to the Mainstream: Journey of Deepa Pawar. Winner of PIIA 2022

    Author

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