Isha Foundation approaches the complex issue of education from various angles. While Isha Home School is a radical concept school, Isha Vidhya seeks to enable rural children through computer-based education. Now Isha is looking to intervene in rural government schools in a more massive way: by placing its own teachers in government schools across Tamil Nadu, an initiative made possible by a recent Government Order.
To place the matter in context, about 9.6 million children study in government schools in the state, largely in rural areas. Most of these are first generation school-goers, children who would otherwise have been taught traditional skills of their forefathers such as carpentry or farming. The situation is quite grim for many of these young children. Our study of 9th standard government school students shows that:
- 35% of them cannot read or write their first language
- 60% of them cannot even do addition or subtraction
- 65% of them are anaemic
Apart from this, they suffer because, according to the law, they cannot be failed upto the 9th standard. This means that those children who have fallen behind will fail for the first time at the age of 15 or 16. As Sadhguru puts it, “Now you have the attitude of the educated, not the skills of the educated.” The numbers of these dejected youth are building up – the danger is that we will have a young generation without purpose, confused, with access to alcohol and no enthusiasm for anything.
Isha Outreach’s effort is to intervene much before this scenario takes place: to put 6-8 dedicated teachers in place, identify slow learners and work like a tutorial within the school. This enables us to provide children with remedial classes, extracurricular activities such as yoga, sports, arts and music. Besides this, health supplements are also offered and hygienic conditions are ensured. 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. So far, 32 schools have been taken up.
This new venture provides plenty of opportunities for participation for anyone interested. Financial contributions are welcome – each school will need about Rs 3 to 4 lakh per year and each child will need about Rs 600 or $12 to make this happen. Volunteering opportunities too are open to anyone willing and able to make a difference.
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