Lataben, a 60-year-old grandmother who lives with her family in the Modhva village of Mandvi Taluka in Gujarat, could barely contain her delight. “Lalla, my grandson, has come first in the 100 metre race! Can you imagine, our little boy among these hundreds of contestants, and not a bit scared?” she cried happily. She had reasons to feel proud. It was a huge crowd indeed. Over 900 students representing 103 schools from across the Taluka had gathered to take part in Ramatotsav, a gala annual sports meet. It was the first of its kind ever witnessed by the local communities living in this remote corner of Kutch. It was organised by the 4000 MW Mundra UMPP Coastal Gujarat Private Limited (CGPL), a wholly owned subsidiary of Tata Power Company, in collaboration with the Gujarat government. The event was an important milestone of Project Shiksha Saarthi, an initiative rolled out by CGPL in June 2012 with the aim of strengthening and nurturing the rural education system. The project has benefited around 83 schools in 50 villages in Kutch region.
On further research we understand that all the initiatives and programmes at Tata Power are designed to go beyond classroom learning and impart discipline, leadership qualities and team spirit. Children are fast learners and these skills must be honed at a young age as they are highly critical to survive in today’s competitive world. The enthusiasm displayed by the children and teachers today only motivates us further to organize such events in the future. We would like to thank the students, teachers and the schools for participating in the Sports Day and making the event a huge success.
But Project Shiksha Saarthi (SS) is not only about fun and games. It has, in fact, been able to strike remarkably deep roots, covering the entire region, within a span of two years. Its strength lies in the repertoire of issues it ventures to explore through its various programmes. So from organizing special classes to rein in the number of school dropouts, to setting up education fairs and planning exposure visits, Shiksha Saarthi does it all. Its aim is to ensure that its target group, comprising mainly of underprivileged children, are not deprived of the benefits of quality education.
This mission has also resulted in partnerships with stakeholders of every hue. While it pitches in to implement government programmes (the Sports event, for instance, was a part of Union Ministry of Human Resources Development’s flagship programme, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan), it forges alliances with NGOs and private players to provide value added courses to students in the Kutch region. Project Sujaan is one such example. It is designed to ensure every student attains computer literacy before he or she leaves school and has three fold benefits of computer aided learning, academic learning and expanding approach of society to technology. The project is being implemented by CGPL through an agreement with Hole–in-the-Wall Education (Hiwell), a joint venture of NIIT, and the International Finance Corporation.
Every year, more than 1000 educational kits are distributed to children, trainings are imparted to children and teachers and educational events are organized by CGPL like Mother Involvement Activities, Total Science fair, Science Work Shops, Block Sports Event and Block Science Fair.
Another innovative intervention of CGPL for rural education has been noted vide their ‘Learning Delight’ program which aims to make learning a delightful experience for both teachers and students by creating a wholesome experience of true learning by means of understanding and experiencing the curriculum in books and learn with ‘delight’ with help of simple computers aided learning system.
This is not all. There are many such schemes which are being implemented on the ground. Like a chain of libraries set up in the villages in Mundra and Mandvi blocs, with the help of CGPL’s NGO partner, Pratham. Pratham also teams up with CGPL to hold ‘Learning camps’ offering lessons in English and Mathematics. “Within last 6 months we noted a sharp hike in the learning level of students,” informed a visibly proud teacher, who is volunteering for CGPL.