Griha Pravesh puja, a housewarming party, Shinchiku-iwai pati… the list could grow longer by the minute and still manage to capture only a fraction of the different names that different societies in different parts of the world use to describe this obviously significant occasion. The rituals are common everywhere though. Stepping into one’s own home for the first time is a major milestone achieved and therefore, calls for major celebrations, with the entire community turning up to rejoice with the owner of the newborn, rather the newly built house. This story is about a network of rural schools spread across Mandvi and Mundra Taluka in coastal Kutch, which has borrowed the joyful spirit of Griha Pravesh to create a festival of its own. The Pravesh Utsav.
The Shala Pravesh Utsav is a unique initiative by the Government of Gujarat where Coastal Gujarat Power Limited (CGPL), a wholly owned subsidiary of Tata Power Company partners with Government and the Panchayat to enroll as maximum possible children in the schooling system.
The school wears a festive look, with the walls covered with colourful posters,” relates a teacher. “There are special gifts for the students enrolled on that day. The purpose is to try and persuade as many households as possible to send their children to school and to keep sending them for the rest of the year. It is a part of our Shiksha Saarthi drive.”
It is important to note here that both the talukas lie within the project site of CGPL. When CGPL identified this area as the site for its ambitious project the 4000 MW Ultra Mega Power Plant, it had done a close survey of the 6 catchment villages that lay within– Tunda-Vandh, Mota Kandagra of Mundra; Nanabhadia, Tragadi and Modva of Mandvi Taluka of Kutch. As far as schools were concerned the scenario revealed was quite dismal. The primary and preprimary sections were in a shambles, requiring 90 per cent shoring up. The higher levels, too, were barely better.
In this endeavour, the Company introduced some very innovative concepts in partnership with the local government and certain nonprofit organisations, which are known for their expertise and experience in the field of education. Shiksha Saarthi is one such initiative that has been able to position itself right on the centrestage, thanks to the sheer range of issues it addresses, and the efficiency with which it has been able to execute its plans, so far.
CGPL has Pratham Education Foundation, a front-runner in this domain, as its partner in Project Shiksha Saarthi. Together they have built up a network of 83 schools, spread across Mandvi and Mundra.
Shiksha Saarthi begins a new phase every year with a colourful Pravesh Utsav, with the local government pitching in to persuade as many households as possible to send their children to school.
Shiksha Saarthi program is flagship program of CR-CGPL which is being implemented in 83 schools of 50 villages where the Shiksha Saarthi Team participates and the new entrants are given school kits. The initiative is focused on controlling and minimising school dropout rates through various interventions. Education fairs, fun events, educational exposure visits and implementation of Government sponsored programmes—every avenue is explored to keep students, teachers as well as the parents engaged and interested in the education system. Volunteers, hailing from CGPL staff base, are trained by Pratham to interact with them.
Good news is that CGPL’s efforts have been noticed, acknowledged and endorsed by the local authorities. It has received a note of appreciation from the Block Resource Centre, applauding its ‘continual efforts in the space of education in Mundra and Mandvi’.