Bharti Shiksha

  • Abhishek Behl / FG
  • India
  • Jul 19, 2013



A large number of kids belonging to the families of the migrant labour population of the City – including drivers and maids - is not able to access the education system because of a lack of resources as well as the bureaucratic hurdles at the State education facilities. With most private schools also not embracing this responsibility, though mandated by the RTE Act, it is the schools that are being run by the voluntary sector, such as Shiksha Bharti in Palam Vihar, which have come to the rescue of these children.

The School is jointly promoted by the Eco Development Foundation and Aniket Ashray Society, with support from the State and Central government. K.C Johari, a former civil servant, who runs this School, says that the lack of education facilities for the poor is an enormous problem that the State and civil society will have to tackle by collaborating with each other. “There are thousands of kids in Gurgaon who can’t afford to go to regular schools. Despite the Right to Education making school education mandatory, it is quite difficult to achieve that goal as resources are limited,” says Johari. However, despite constraints, there are 130 students currently getting education at Shiksha Bharti - from Nursery to Class Fifth. These students are given free admission, schools books, dress and even a mid-day meal - which is served under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan of the Government of India. The School was started in 2010, with 20 students. The number surged after the labour population living in the areas close by realised that a good quality of education was being delivered, says Johari. There are 7 volunteer teachers in the School, who are paid an honorarium.

While the requests for admissions are increasing, the School administration has had to put on hold the entry of new students because of space constraint. There are only 4 rooms in the School, which are filled to the brim, and Class Five has to sit on the staircase of the building. “We do not have space, but the students do not mind some inconvenience; they have a great yearning to learn,” says Pratibha Sharma, a volunteer teacher. The School wants to add 4 more rooms, but despite approaching the District Administration several times the plans have not been approved. The School had to suffer doubly because of bureaucratic ineptitude, as it had to return a donation that was made by External Affairs Wives Welfare Association, after the District Administration refused to let them construct the rooms with these funds! “We were promised that rooms would be built by the government, but if this does not happen soon we will pitch a tent to accommodate more children”, says Johari. He is however thankful to the erstwhile Deputy Commissioner P.C Meena, for bringing the School under the Mid-day Meal scheme, which used to cost them almost Rs. 1500 per day. “We now get good quality food under this scheme, delivered by ISKCON,” he says.

The teachers at the School say that the children from weaker sections, if given a proper chance and care, can do well in life. Pratibha Sharma cites the instance of several children who were unable to read and write a year back, but once guided properly are now able to do so. “Their health, hygiene, cleanliness and social behaviour improves considerably once they have spent a year at the School,” she says. Her only concern is that these children need more support and help from their families and society; but realising that they live a migratory life, and lack resources, the teachers also reconcile to this basic reality. To ensure that these kids get admission in other ‘standard’ schools, Shiksha Bharti willingly provides transfer certificates. “This ensures easy movement across schools, and even government schools accept them without any problem,” he adds.

Despite the constraints, a large number of parents want their children to continue studying in this School. Rekha, who works as a construction worker and has arrived from her Madhya Pradesh village three days ago, with three kids in tow, wants to educate them here. “The schools in our village are not good, and if the children go with me on site they will just waste their time. I want them to learn and improve their position in life,” she says. Many more parents have the same aspiration, as they also want their children to have a better future.

While the voluntary teachers and the civil society in Gurgaon have helped the School by giving help in the form of furniture, reading material, food and other donations, the government has not been able to execute and implement its welfare schemes in letter and spirit.  An amount of Rs 46 lakhs, which was sanctioned by the Union Labour Ministry under a Central Government scheme, to be paid as honorarium to school teachers and workers, has not been released. “We need funds to buy desks for the children, and new rooms are needed. But all this is stuck because nothing happens in Chandigarh, and the local Administration has no inclination to try and accommodate the needs of such schools,” he says.  

To ensure that children can study in a secure and safe environment, Shiksha Bharti ensures that the girl children are brought to, and taken from, school by family members only. A visitor’s register is also maintained, to keep tabs. The management also keeps a proper record of students, including their photographs and addresses.

 Kawal Arora, a voluntary teacher at the School, says that apart from regular studies the kids also participate in co-curricular activities and play games together. This has improved their communication skills and helped them become a part of a team. The need of the hour, Johari says, is to build more institutions like Shiksha Bharti on a Public-Private Partnership model, so that more kids from weaker sections are able to learn, and do better in life. This is a difficult but doable task, provided we are committed, he asserts


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