The Azad India Foundation believes that education is true means of socio-economic and intellectual advancement of the society. Every child deserves primary education and every woman basic education, irrespective of caste, religion or socio-economic background.
Apart from Primary Education in India at Non Formal Centers, Azad India Foundation also facilitates Distance education for school Dropouts in india, Woman and Education in india, Adult Education in india and Child Education in India.
Spreading literacy through non-formal centers
Suman Devi age 25,by profession dhobi (washerwoman) stays in hutments near river Ramzan called Dhobi Patti in Kishanganj Town.Nasima Khatoon age 18,works in tea garden in village ManiramBhitta.Nazneen age 14 do household chores and in free time plays around in village Bhagkharna.Parwati kumari age 34 housewife and mother of 4 young children, village Bharagharia.One thing was common among them, they were all illiterate, unsure of themselves cocooned in their small world.
But that was past. After one year they are as articulate as any urbanite. They have high self-esteem and proud to showoff their new found skills in reading and writing. And the biggest of all freedom from putting thumb impression. Kishanganj district has a dubious record of having lowest literacy level in whole of Bihar. The worst sufferers are the women who due to illiteracy and ignorance face exploitation at all levels.
They are unable to join the mainstream. In such a bleak scenario, we thought that it would be difficult to convince people especially womenfolk to enroll in the literacy centers and convince them to study every day. But we were pleasantly surprised when they jumped at the idea as if they were waiting for the opportunity. Another heartening fact is that their fathers and husbands also encouraged them to study.
The criteria for deciding these villages were non-availability of any formal school in the vicinity or absence of infrastructure in government schools and number of potential beneficiaries. The selection of the teacher was done in consultation with the villagers and subject to the availability of at least one matric /inter pass woman teacher in the village. They even offered their homes as temporary place to run the centers.
Thus the mud houses of Ranu Sinha, Majda Begum, Jahanara and Dilshad Begum were transformed overnight into teaching centers with blackboards, floor mats, books and slates etc provided by the Foundation. In other villages also, people provided free space for running the centers.
The method of teaching is non-formal involving local dialect Surjapuri and in some centers in Bengali to help the women learn effectively .In these centers women are taught to read and write at their own pace. The Foundation has also printed its first booklet in Hindi titled Pahla Kadam for neoliterates. There is no age bar for the students. Even older women attend the classes. Some centers function in the afternoon after women finish their household work and some in the evening when they return from their fields. An attendance register is maintained duly signed by the teacher and project coordinator who regularly visits the centers. Side by side they are given information on health and hygiene and other relevant issues.
The involvement of the community has ensured smooth functioning of these centers and made the teachers accountable to the task they have undertaken. Our main aim is not only to make the women literate in the technical sense of the term but also to help them become conversant with simple math involving transactions, calculations and opening of bank account etc to inculcate confidence in them. The main reason behind the success of project Pahla Kadam is the fighting spirit shown by the village women and their families. Their desire to achieve what may seem trivial to many is really commendable.
Number of Villages: 35
Name of the Villages:
· Jalalpur Hindu tola
· Jalalpur Muslim tola
· Meerbhitta Dakshin tola
· Baghrani Mirzapur
· Talbasti paharkatta
· Noori basti Pateshri
· Dangibasti Pateshri
· Kasba Kaliya ganj
· Iqra Kumaria
· Paharkatta Ruhi tola
Number of Beneficiaries: 929
This project supported by Royal Dutch Embassy New Delhi is providing formal education to 500 children in the age group 6-14 in 5 villages who do not go to any school or are school dropouts through nonformal means. The children are enrolled from the villages. Our target is to encourage girls to join the schools as their education is generally neglected and look down upon.More than 50% of the students are girls who attend the schools regularly.Nonformal education is being provided under National Open School board. The curriculum and books for the course have been prepared on the basis of blueprints provided by NOS and Bihar Government syllabus at par with any formal school. The certificates are given by the NOS which are valid in India. Initially we have introduced classes from one to class three. The books and study materials are provided at nominal cost. The teachers are selected from educated youth of the community to provide employment to local youth especially women. These schools are managed by the local village committees comprising of panchayat members, educated and respected members of the society.The Target Group:
The beneficiaries would be approx 500 children between 6-14 years. The Intervention Area:
Damalbari,Chattargach,Powakhali,Thakurganj and Pothia
The Objectives to be achieved:
1. The project would help in providing quality education to rural children.
2. The mothers and guardians would be encouraged to join literacy centers run by Azad India Foundation to get functional literacy. This would instill the value of education among people.
3. This project would help in increasing the literacy level of the district.
4. This project would give employment to the rural educated youth especially girls who would work as teachers at the centers.
RURAL SCHOOL FINAL REPORT
AREA/LOCATION OF THE PROJECT:
The project was implemented in villages Damalbari, Chhattergach, Powakhali, Thakurganj and Pothia in Kishanganj district
The main aim of the project was to provide education to rural children in the age group 6-14 in 5 villages who are out of any formal school system or are school dropouts through nonformal means. AIF began with the identification of the children residing in these villages and also nearby areas. Our main target was to encourage more girls to join the NFE schools as their education is generally neglected and look down upon. We followed formal as well as nonformal system of education in all the schools. Children were enrolled in classes one to three. They were given choice to join the formal setup or study according to their convenience in the afternoon. The schools have fixed timings for the formal students and flexible timings for the nonformal students. The teachers ensure at least six hours of study six days a week. Since we have accreditation from National Open Schooling Ministry of HRD, Government of India to conduct examination for class three, class five and class eight levels it helped us in convincing parents to send children to our schools. We followed the curriculum and books prepared on the basis of blueprints provided by NOS and Bihar Govt syllabus. We tried to keep the course at par with any formal school. Our main concern was to develop the capacity of children preparing them for formal schooling in the future. The course was divided into 4 modules. The first three months were devoted to teaching basics in language and mathematics. In the next three months we introduced writing skills and subsequently other subjects like EVS and art of healthy and productive living were introduced. We also tried to identify talent among the children like music, dance and drawing/painting. The books were provided free of cost. The teachers were selected from educated youth of the community to provide employment to local youth especially women. We charged nominal fees from the students to make it self-sustaining in the long run.
CAPACITY BUILDING INITIATIVES:
Azad India Foundation organized regular trainings and orientations for the teachers by the resource person by Mr.Shamim Akhtar who is TLC trainer.
Kishanganj district has a dubious record of having lowest literacy level in whole of Bihar. The worst sufferers are the women who due to illiteracy and ignorance face exploitation at all levels.Azad India Foundation has set up nonformal centres in target villages where women and girls come for functional literacy classes. The main purpose of setting these centres was to promote education among the guardians of the children. The method of teaching was non-formal involving local dialect Surjapuri and in some centers in Bengali/Hindi to help the women learn effectively .In these centers women were taught to read and write at their own pace. Some centers functioned in the afternoon after women finish their household work and some in the evening when they return from their fields. The involvement of the community ensured smooth functioning of these centers and made the teachers accountable to the task they have undertaken.
RURAL SCHOOLS: Azad India Foundation believes that education is true means of socio-economic and intellectual advancement of the society. Every child at least deserves primary education irrespective of caste, religion or socio-economic background. We enrolled 449 children for OBE Level -A examination. These children were in the age-group 6-14 years. Out of these 236 were boys and 213 were girls. Our sustained efforts have led to about 47% of girls' and 52 % boys' enrollment in the schools. Many young children also attend the school. We conducted the examination in the month of July/August and the result is submitted to National Open School for certificates. The girls did better in the examination as 50.7% passed in first attempt where as 49% boys passed the examination in the first attempt. The students who have failed or partly cleared papers will be motivated to give exam again after six months. Their registration is valid is five years where they can clear papers according to their convenience.
A detailed result of the students as follows:
- Total number of students enrolled : 449
- Total number of male students: 236
- Total number of female students: 213
- Total number of students passed : 201
- Total number of female students passed: 102
- Total number of male students passed : 99
- Total number of part pass students: 21
- Total number of failed students :149
- Total number of absent students: 78
SPECIAL DAY CELEBRATIONS: Azad India Foundation celebrated special days like Republic Day (26th January) and Independence Day (15th August) at all the schools instilling a sense of national pride and teaching children importance of these days. We also organized drawing and sports competitions for the children regularly. The winners were given prizes and certificates. Parents and other important people including PRIs of the villages were included in all the programmes.
COMMUNITY MEETINGS: The project coordinator and field workers of AIF carried out regular meetings with the parents, guardians and important persons of the community from time to time. These meetings are very important for building enabling environment for generating interest in education. It also helped us in the centers where there was high dropout of the girls and reluctance and apathy of the parents towards our project. AIF also organized film shows 'Meena ki Kahani' which deals with issues concerning education for girls and gender issues in the target villages.
VISITORS TO THE RURAL SCHOOLS: Ms Tinku Khanna,Ms Janki and Mr Kalam from Aapne Aap Women International an NGO working in Calcutta and Forbesganj visited Thakurganj and Chattargach rural schools on 23rd December. The children welcomed them with a song and displayed their learning skills. They were impressed with the progress of the children especially the girls. The main objective of their visit was to replicate the same programme in their intervention area. Azad India Foundation hosted Mr Alvise Fabretto a volunteer from Italy. He visited all the rural schools. Sports Day was celebrated at rural school at Pothia on 26th Janaury where 60 children participated from the two villages. They presented a small cultural programme.The winners were given prizes by Mrs Yuman Hussain and Mr Alvise Fabretto. UNESCO and National Open School (Ministry of HRD) conducted survey for the relevance and efficacy of Open Basic Education in 5 NGOs in India. Rural Schools of Azad India Foundation were chosen from Bihar where an independent agency carried out survey and interaction with 100 students in the month of July. The final report is awaited.
The Foundation is providing reading facilities to inculcate and sustain reading habits among the women who are now functionally literate. The first community-based library has been established in the nonformal center of Bharagriya with the aim of providing access to information and books for the target groups. We hope to establish more libraries in other villages.
AZAD PUBLIC SCHOOL
AIF has introduced three months free basic computer courses to college going girls and boys belonging to weaker sections of the society. The courses covered are Computer fundamentals, MS-Dos, Ms-Word, Spreadsheet, Access, Computer network. The main aim is to make poor students of the district familiar with computer and latest technology. We hope to target and encourage girls so that they get equal opportunities in employment avenues.
Name and Address of the centre
Azad Public School, Line Mohalla, Kishanganj
National Institute of Open Schooling
Azad India Foundation believes that meaningful education should be the basic right of all the children and not the privilege of a few. There are thousands of children especially girls who are involved in child labor and denied even basic education. Girls in many rural areas do an enormous amount of work at home and in the fields. Their activities range from carrying water, collect wood for fuel, cook, clean, wash and take care of siblings.
We have been committed to providing all the children who are unable to join the formal education an alternative way so that they do not remain devoid of their fundamental right of education. National Open School is an endeavor of Ministry of Human Resource Development, Govt. of India for distance education. It operates through a network of educational institutes and agencies all over India for the education of out of school children and youth.
It is providing millions of such children and youth an opportunity to continue their education through open system of learning. Azad India Foundation became OBE centre (open basic education) of National Open School in 2003.For last one year we are providing free education up to class three levels to about 300 children between age-group 6-14 enrolled at our various NFE centers. We have specially prepared books titled Udaan in Hindi for Maths, Social Studies and Science according to the blueprints provided by NOS and Bihar Govt and CBSE syllabus. We hope to conduct class three examinations in coming months. This programme would bring disadvantaged children at par with the formal education system through nonformal education.
Target Group Rural Children, Working children, School dropouts
Name of the villages
· Maniram Bhitta
· R.N OBE center
Kishanganj district is situated in the North-East of the state of Bihar bordering Nepal in the North, West Bengal and Bangladesh in the east. It has 7 blocks, one municipal area, two nagar panchyats and 730 revenue villages. The population of the district is 1296348 with decadal growth rate of 31.7%.More than 40% of the population lives below poverty line.
Status of Education in Kishanganj district
The literacy rate of Kishanganj is 31.09%, which is one of the lowest in India. Female literacy rate is as low as 18.63%, which too is one of the lowest in India. Based on Selected Educational Statistics 2002-03 and latest available information, there are 550 Primary Schools, 96 Middle Schools, 35 Secondary/Intermediate/Higher Secondary Schools, 337 Education Guarantee Scheme (EGS) Centres, 154 Alternative and Innovative Education (AIE) Centres and 240 Madarsa in the district. The number of teachers in the Primary Schools is 1038, that in Middle Schools 534, and in Secondary/Intermediate/Higher Secondary Schools 267. The Pupil-Teacher ratio in Primary Schools is 83, whereas it is 76 in Middle Schools. The national norm of having a primary school within 1 KM distance and an upper primary school within 3 KM distance is not being followed in the district. Although Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) is operational in since 2002-03, Kishanganj is still facing an unprecedented crisis of having more than 36.57 thousand out of school children.
Nonformal Schooling through NIOS by AIF
Azad India Foundation got affiliated with National Open School for Open Basic Education in 2003. It took almost a year to develop course material based on the guidelines of NIOS and state government text books. With the generous support of Mr Iskandar Laljee Jt.Managing Director of Sud Chemie India Pvt Ltd AIF printed the books. Our main aim is to give at least class- III level of education to those children who have never been to school due to various reasons and then sending them to formal schools. The emphasis is on learning rather clearing the examination. We also decided to make the parents especially mothers functionally literate so that they are able to understand the value of education.
AIF has been following integrated strategy of providing Open basic education with its other projects. With project Sanjivini under Project ARSH (adolescent reproductive and sexual health program) supported by NFI we enrolled 181 children (10-14) 115 girls and 66 boys from 15 villages in 2004. Out of these 112 students appeared for Level A with 69 girls and 43 boys.50 children including 28 girls and 22 boys passed the examination in the first attempt. Since we had trained the health animators to work as teachers and this was our first attempt the response from the community was not very encouraging.
In 2005 we got project from Royal Dutch Embassy for educating rural children under NIOS. We established five rural study centres at villages Damalbari, Powakhali, Pothia, Thakurganj and Chattargach with 449 children enrolled out of which 236 were boys and 213 girls. Girls' enrolment was 47% compared to 52% boys. Under teachers'guidence 201 children passed the Level A with 102 girls and 99 boys.21 children passed in more than 2 subjects. Girls pass percentage was 50.7% and boys 49%.After the completion of project two rural centres are running with community support where children have started preparing for Level B.
In 2006 under Asian Development Bank's small grant program AIF started Project Pahla Kadam in 13 villages where 359 children have been enrolled in Level A. There are 207 girls and 152 boys who are preparing for their examination to be held in March 2007. For Project Sanjivini IInd phase we will be enrolling girls and boys in the age-group of 10-14 from 30 villages .Madarasas are important learning institutions in Muslim dominated villages. Our strategy is to include them also within the ambit of NIOS so that young children can get Islamic as well as modern education.
- Competent teachers who can teach as district is educationally very backward.
- Socio-religious barriers where education is not a priority.
- Poverty as children are forced to work in fields and tea-gardens to add to family income.
- Linking children to formal schools as there are hardly any government schools with teachers and proper infrastructure.
- Girls are married at early age so they are forced to drop-out.
- Community support minimal so once the project is over very difficult to sustain from Foundation's resources.
Achievement of Program
Women Empowerment Programmes
Women have always been marginalized and relegated to the status of subjugated class in the Indian society. Due to lack of specific implementation of plans, local communities especially women have remained outside the scope and benefits of government schemes and programmes.
Women have not actively participated in their emancipation due to their lack of economic independence and illiteracy. There is a need to address the issue by raising the status of women. The key lies in women empowerment through economic self-sufficiency and higher awareness levels on social, political and legal issues through mobilization. There is also a need to recognize and emphasize the diverse roles of women such as reproductive, productive and community management. Women should be organized and strengthened at the grass root level to end their subordination. Azad India Foundation is making an attempt in that direction to make rural women self sufficient through various skill training programmes.
Skill training programme for Women
The main aim of this programme is to enhance the quality of life of women through increased knowledge and skills. The Foundation also realized that merely imparting literacy would not be sufficient .The women need vocational training or skills also to uplift their status. They should be able to stand on their feet and provide for their families.
The discussions with women revealed that they are also interested in learning some skill to supplement their household income. They showed interest in learning stitching and tailoring. Foundation opened six vocational training centers on experimental basis. In a very short duration of six months most of the women have become proficient in basic cutting and stitching. The credit goes to the students and the teachers who again from the community are taking tremendous interest and teaching with their full dedication. After successful completion of the course, they will be encouraged to get bank loans to start their own business. AIF has given sewing machines to 2 women from its own resources to start small tailoring unit.
Name of the Villages
· Maniram Bhitta
· Line Mohalla
Employment to Rural Women
Azad India Foundation has provided employment to the 35 rural women who work as literacy teachers and health animators in non-formal centers. This has led to enhance confidence level among them.
Promotion of entrepreneurship among women
The Foundation has provided two non-formal centers of Bharagariya and Maniram Bhitta with plastic chairs and tables to be rented out in the marriages and village functions to bring out the entrepreneurship among women. These women keep the account and share the money among themselves.
Formation of Self-Help groups
Micro finance is recognized as a key strategy for addressing issues of poverty alleviation and women's empowerment. Access to financial services and the subsequent transfer of financial resources to poor women enable them to become economic agents of change. Women become economically self-reliant, contribute directly to the well-being of their families, play a more active role in decision-making, and are able to confront systemic gender inequalities.
In this regard Foundation facilitated the concept of SHGs among community women to encourage them to participate in their development and work towards day-to-day problems through small savings. It was a major step to realize economic freedom. 10 SHGs are successfully functioning in the various villages. The meetings for the formation of new groups and follow-up with the existing groups are a regular feature of the programme. These SHGs have given the members a sense of identity and a common platform to discuss their grievances.
The matters of common interest have instilled a sense of unity. The funds created by their own savings helps them meet urgent monetary needs without depending on their men folk or moneylenders. Recently AIF organized weeklong training to 50 women of three Self Help groups of Mirbhitta Uttartola and Mirbhitta Dakshintola in Powakhali Panchayat. Resource persons sent by Khadi and Village Commission, Patna conducted it in three trades of candle making, agarbatti making and detergent making. This was a unique experience for the women as it was for the first time this type of training was conducted in such remote villages.
Most of the women had come out of their homes for the first time at the local Madarsa building where it was being conducted. Infact most of them had never spoken in front of the outsiders before. However their confidence was highly inspiring. They all decided to work together to fully utilize this training. We were happy to see that even the men folk, especially their husbands and guardians fully supported them and pledged to help them in setting up small units.
Number of Beneficiaries 150
Community Health Initiatives
Good health is a first step towards happy fulfilling life. In the villages, health is still relatively neglected issue due to various factors. The vast segments of the rural population do not have access to proper nutrition or medical and dental care. They do not get even the rudimentary education in achieving and maintaining good health. The lack of health education and proper medical facilities has compounded this problem to epidemic proportions.
Women health is a crucial component of general health. There is a need to empower the community especially women to take responsibility for their health. The Foundation have made health care one of the prime functions through various interventions. We educate people about general health practices and healthy eating habits with emphasis on children and expectant mothers. Our fieldworkers organize awareness programmes on various diseases such as tuberculosis, leprosy, polio etc in various villages. They also carry out community meetings about benefits of immunization, breast-feeding etc from time to time.
Our trained local natak mandli hold plays on health issues in all the haats and panchayats. The emphasis on hygiene is the key to eradicating a majority of the health problems. Our workers conduct awareness meetings on clean drinking water and clean surroundings. They also educate people in methods of disease prevention.
HIV/AIDS is one of the important components of our community health and adolescent reproductive and sexual health programme. We organize seminars and awareness programmes in various villages. One of our intervention strategies of spreading awareness on HIV/AIDS is through the medium of village natak shows to target wider audiences.The main goal is to inform and sensitize people about the dreaded disease.
This project is being implemented in 15 villages in three blocks of Pothia, Thakurganj and Kishanganj.AIF is focusing on reproductive health and sexual health issues by sensitizing them through group meetings, training programmes and communication programmes like drawing, painting and poster making etc. An important component of the programme is to sensitize the parents and the community members to the needs of adolescents, as they are the ones who make all the decisions.
Our initiative are also addressing immediate concerns of adolescents i.e. delaying early marriage and pregnancy by taking an integrated approach of providing education and skill training side by side. Our nonformal education centers are the focal points for dissemination of information. We are using local haats for conducing community meetings followed by nukkad nataks in local dialect to target wider audiences.Number of villages: 15
Name of the villages:
5. Jalalpur(Hindu Basti)
6. Jalalpur (Muslim Basti)
9. Talbasti Paharkatta
Relief and Disaster Management
Every year see large-scale devastation in some villages in the district. The rivers cut their banks and in the process wash away scores of villages, cattle and cause destruction of crops. Last year AIF team distributed relief materials in the worst affected villages namely Mirbhitta, Dumaria, Saithabari and Tayabpur. In the post flood period there is always a danger of outbreak of large-scale epidemics.
The government hospitals in the district are ill equipped to fight the problem. Azad India Foundation sent essential medicines like I.V fluid, I.V sets, ORS and Paracetamol and Metrinizol etc to the District magistrate of Kishanganj to be distributed in the flood-affected areas. This year we gave three boats for Pabna River in village Powakhali, Mahananda River in Kolhabasti and Mechi River in Bholmara benefiting thousands of people. These boats were handed over to C.O of Yhakurganj and Pohtia.
Community welfare Measures
Mahbool Alam is a young school going boy. This boy has to walk 2kms to his school every day and has to walk back every evening. This is a very common thing in his area but for him it is quite an ordeal, as he has polio infected lower limb making it very difficult walking 4kms every day.
Mrs Amrita & Mr. Iskander A. Lalljee has been very generous by providing a wheel chair for him, making his mobility much easier now.