New Delhi, July 31, 2017: Education is a birth right of every individual irrespective of the class, caste or race. Swami Vivekanand once wrote: “If the poor cannot come to education, education must reach them at the plough, in the factory, everywhere. How? You have seen my brethren. Now I can get hundreds of such, all over India, unselfish, good, and educated. Let these men go from village to village bringing not only religion to the door of everyone but also education.”
Years after Swami Vivekananda’s death, his words fetched life – An initiative called “Ekal Abhiyan” was started which aimed at imparting education to the poor and break into the outlying villages of the rural and tribal India. The initiative is driven by self-motivated volunteers, just like the way Vivekanand envisaged.
The concept of ‘one teacher schools’ or ‘single teacher schools’ was brought in the motion to provide holistic education to destitute children by well-trained teachers. The curriculum encompasses arithmetic, science, and languages, health and hygiene topics, physical activities, yoga and introduction to local skills. The educational content is developed from the scratch.
Ekal Abhiyan is the largest working educational organization in the villages of India with more than 50,000 Ekal Vidhyalayas in this day and age.
The journey of Ekal is full of vim and vigor. Some social visionaries started with ‘single-teacher schools’ in the Adivasi villages of Gumla district of Jharkhand in the 1980s. A similar operation was carried in the district Fulbani of Odisha. Shyam Gupta, a social activist working with the tribal communities, established 400-night schools. Children who worked in the fields in daytime also studied in these night schools.
Such endeavors helped to evolve the concept and model of Ekal Vidyalayas. The concept began to incubate first time in 1986 in a seminar in Gumla which was organized to discover the solution to the problem of illiteracy in tribal villages. Both the models from Jharkhand and Orissa were discussed and looked upon.
The concept of ‘one teacher school’ was also sketched by a renowned social activist Bhau Rao Devras. Furthermore, Dr. Popli helped in honing the concept and wrote the book Khele Kude Nache Gaye based upon the non-formal method of teaching.
Ekal has emphasized in its models the need for local participation. Constant training of acharyas (instructors) is a standout amongst the most important aspects of Ekal’s framework. A large number of Ekal volunteers and acharyas are occupied with accomplishing something staggering that others can just dream of.
In the period of two decades, Ekal hasn’t taken any assistance from the government. With its financially savvy and straightforward model, Ekal has assembled its own pool of supporters. Ekal does not operate on any standard building structures but rather the Vidyalayas are run in panchayat buildings or in volunteers’ homes. In the case of inaccessibility, Vidyalaya keeps running under a tree.
Programs like ‘$1 a day’ where a man gives $365 every year to Ekal, an amount adequate enough to run one Ekal Vidyalaya has helped the unprivileged children achieve the distant dream of literacy. The purpose of volunteer based approach is to make society more cognizant about the impediments our country and society confront. As of late, in one of the projects, Prime Minister Narendra Modi pitched having 100,000 Ekal Vidyalayas by 2022. Ekal volunteers have taken this as a challenge and have begun working in the direction.
Ekal has not only sought for educational development has also worked for economic empowerment and better healthcare for rural and vanvasi brothers and sisters. Ekal Gramothan Foundation and Arogya Foundation of India are the two added initiatives under the shed of Ekal Abhiyan.
Poverty stricken children from the Adivasi villages are now seen touching PCs surprisingly. Every one of these activities is an aftereffect of Ekal’s duty towards fortifying the poorest of poor and to reach the remotest villages.
– prepared by Naina Mishra of Newsgram. Twitter @Nainamishr94