Isha Foundation’s Government School Adoption Program (GSAP) celebrated its second anniversary on June 30th with a Rural Festival and Cultural Program. The function was held at the Isha Rural Health Clinic (IRHC) at Salem, Tamil Nadu, which incidentally also celebrated its sixth anniversary, having completed six years of providing low-cost, high-quality healthcare to the rural public. The Guests of Honour included the current and former Chief Educational Officers of Salem district and other prominent members of the government and society.

The festival included volleyball and throwball tournaments with teams from ten villages; volleyball, throwball, kho-kho and kabbadi tournaments between five adopted government schools in Salem; drawing, elocution and essay-writing competitions between the five schools; prizes for the top rankers in the SSLC and HSC exams of these schools; and a commendation ceremony for outstanding teachers. Traditional games, fun games for children and cultural programs were also part of the celebration.

Creating a Better Future

The GSAP is an effort of Isha Foundation to bring high-quality education to the rural children of Tamil Nadu. Although there are sufficient primary schools to provide education even at the rural level, the quality of facilities and services are not up to the mark. The current student-teacher ratio is 70:1. Furthermore, a majority of the teachers lack the necessary skills to be effective, and need training. Studies show that many 9th standard students are unable to read and write their first language or do simple addition and subtraction. The health condition of children is poor and they are not aware of proper hygiene. 60% of the children were found to be anemic during screening tests.

Through the GSAP Isha Foundation has adopted 31 Government schools, which will benefit about 28,000 students. The program offers support in filling vacant teachers posts, conducting remedial classes for slow learning children, spoken English classes, providing health supplements and maintaining hygienic conditions in the schools. Above all, the program strives to induce a spirit of enthusiasm and joy in each child. There are 6,300 government schools in Tamil Nadu and the target is to reach at least 3,000 of them, especially those located in the more remote areas.

Healthcare For The Rural Public

The IRHC is one part of Isha’s community development programs in Tamil Nadu, which include several innovative and groundbreaking initiatives. Mobile health clinics bring free primary healthcare services to the doorsteps of 7.5 lakh people in 100+ villages. The Isha Rural Health Clinic at Salem is one of four in Tamil Nadu. It is equipped with a pharmacy, emergency care and lab facilities, has provided low cost, high quality healthcare to 46,336 patients in the district. Isha also promotes health and community bonding with yoga and sports programs which have benefitted 5000 individuals to date. Through the Isha Agro Movement, consultancy is provided to farmers to implement viable organic farming methods. Over 3 lakh tree saplings are produced every year at the nursery in Sannyasikundu and planted in villages every year.

Over the past three decades, Isha’s projects have generated tremendous public recognition and goodwill from international forums to village-based stakeholder meetings. The reason for this success is that community-giving not only raises the spirit of those who benefit but also of those who give. The joy of being with people who are willing to offer their utmost love and care to bring about a transformation in another human being can be overwhelming.