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Quest Alliance’s Anandshala Youth Clubs Lead to Sustainable Education and Overall Growth

Quest Alliance is a not-for-profit that uses education technology and capacity building to focus on research-led innovation and advocacy in the field of teaching and learning. The organization implements 21st-century skills for learners and facilitators to engaging with educators, civil society, government institutions, and corporate organizations to create innovative solutions in school education and vocational training. 

The Anandshala program by Quest Alliance operates in the States of Bihar and Jharkhand. With the sole aim of building a stronger relationship between teachers, students, and parents, this program makes schools joyful learning spaces that motivate students to stay in school.

Children and their facilitators proudly holding the Anandshala banner

The high point of the program extends to out-of-school adolescents through local youth clubs. This leads to active youth participation on the one hand and to create a responsive education system through advocacy and capacity-building on the other. Results undoubtedly produce higher attendance, deeper engagement, learning for life, more trust, and stronger relationships between the government, its schools, and the community. 

In Jharkhand, the concept of “Ghar Ghar Pathshala” was introduced in similar lines to that of Samastipur. Here the children are supported by the school facilitators of their village who gather at one place to study. This kind of arrangement has been considered and recognized as one of the best initiatives of the year by the district authorities, and also is being supported by the district government. There are nearly 5000 children connected through these centers. The facilitators also conducted virtual and in-person parent-teachers meetings with 77 schools and connected with 2020 parents.

Ghar Ghar Pathshala group formation during Lockdown

“It's been 8 months of a school lockdown, we are disconnected with our friends and also do not have enough books to read. I am fortunate that these centers are within our reach during this lockdown period to again read the books of our choice,” says Rani Kumari, from the village- Rupauli Tola Baangara, Samastipur, Bihar. The IVRS messages which were sent regularly by the Anandshala team were also the talking points for effective engagement of the children under the guardianship of the parents. Libraries for the students started at these Centers benefitted the children in a major way, where the community also donated books.

This initiative has also created an impact on the students’ learning and has strengthened the liaison with the community people leading partnerships with the local organization and community resource person taking the initiative to the next level of sustainability where they are pooling the resource to open many more learning centers. So far, three more learning centers are operating in a partnership model, apart from seven learning centers by Anandshala in the district within six months of its start. 

A joyful Anandshala participant showcasing his talent to the community

Anandshala Youth Clubs have proven to be a boon for young girls who were seen busy discussing the importance of menstrual hygiene. Their concern led them to create a PAD Bank to help and support those girls who cannot afford the pads and other personal hygienic products and silently suffer the consequences.

The Youth Clubs, with its enthusiastic girls throughout the lockdown has been a vibrant place for the girls. In their discussions and interactions with others, they cited examples of COVID-19 infection, protocols, and other information gathered from their sessions as well as from the internet. During their attempt to stop early marriages of some of their counterparts, they went door to door in order to spread awareness around the prevalent myth and superstitions around the Coronavirus and prevent the Stigma and discrimination among the COVID-19 positive patients. Three of these girls emerged champions in the National Youth-led campaign against the stigma and discrimination during the COVID-19 pandemic. This event was organized and supported by DASRA.

Adolescent girls discussing discrimination and stigma among covid-19 patients 

Similarly, during the lockdown, there was the inaccessibility of the decor materials during the festive season, Anandshala team organized a 5-day workshop on Festive Decor making. This provided the impetus to localized goods and gave maximum profit to these youths who contribute earthen lamps and pots, floating candles, decorative items out of papers and pastels, and Madhubani art. The girls went ahead in being creative and produced the latest design on masks and handbags which eventually increased the demand, club members received huge orders through word of mouth and they couldn’t meet the demands as it was around Diwali and Chhath.

While building relationships between teachers and students, the Anandshala program showcases how a teacher can motivate students with curiosity, imagination, and a desire to learn. The youths in the community have taken up the role of being facilitators and community spaces have been created for learning, thus parents and youth taking a much more active role.

Author

Divya Tiwari

Divya Tiwari is a seasoned content writer with over 20 years of work experience. She holds an MBA degree from IIM Indore along with Triple Masters Degrees in Development Studies, Media Business Management, and Philosophy. She has worked in various capacities with National and International NGOs, Top Corporates, and several Ministries for projects that range from Training, Capacity Building, E-Learning, to Media and Communications. She has written and hosted English programs for All India Radio, Delhi. Her deep interest in Animal Welfare helps her engage with various Animal Welfare Organizations across the country in various capacities. She is an advocate of a cruelty-free sustainable lifestyle and regularly blogs on related issues and solutions. Apart from her writing engagements, she is also a social entrepreneur helping rural communities take their craft to centrestage. She is based out of Delhi