Friday, December 28, 2012

Victims of the system

From this academic year, Kaliyuva Mane is conducting entrance test for the teachers.   Test paper contains questions on Kannada, English, Mathematics, Science and General knowledge.
Her qualification is M.A., B.Ed.  Can we select her?    Till now more than 60 aspirants have taken the test.   Unfortunately till now,  none of them have passed the test.

From this year onwards, the Government has revised the 5th std., 8th std. and 1st PU text books.  The whole idea is to raise the standard of State Board education and bring it on par with CBSE standard.   It is a welcome move!  So policy makers have revised the curriculum and revised the text books, but have not thought about the implementers.   I'm teaching 5th standard English to our trainee teachers.  Now they can read and understand 5th standard text books.   Still they cannot answer the questions at the end of the lesson.  Proper formation of sentences is a big problem.

When do the policy makers learn to think holistically?  When are they going to change teacher training programmes?  How long our D.Ed. and B.Ed. colleges keep on producing unemployables?  Some brain storming is required.  We should stop victimizing  innocent rural candidates.

Most of the urban elite children pursue lucrative courses like engineering, medicine, business management and very few aspire to become primary school teachers.  The salary package does not attract them to choose teaching as a career.  Most of the rural children who have studied in Kannada Medium in high school continue to study PUC (higher secondary) also in Kannada medium taking ‘History, sociology and economics’ as electives.  Then they study D.Ed.  Generally this does not equip them to teach English, Hindi, Mathematics, Science and Social Science even for 5th standard children.  Hence this obsolete teacher training course on one hand is creating plenty of rural jobless/underpaid candidates with graduate and post graduate degrees and on the other hand has created a scarcity of competent teachers to teach English, Mathematics and Science in rural areas. Very few teachers realize that teaching is a time based activity, whereas learning is a process based activity.   

The summary of the findings of the Karnataka Jnana Aayoga, a high powered commission constituted in September 2008 by then chief minister of Karnataka under the chairmanship of renowned space scientist Dr K. Kasturirangan  about D.Ed. colleges is given below

“The colleges where the study was undertaken had adequate infrastructure; 65% of students  opted this course were females; 47% belonged to OBC category; 26% belonged to SC category; 71.4% belonged to low income group with an annual income of Rs.6000-Rs.12000; most of the students belonged to social science stream. Majority of the teachers were males (63%), average age was 37 years and very few (15%) had teaching experience in primary schools. They had attended an average of 2.5 training programmes in their entire career and showed poor readiness to implement reforms in school education. In all the colleges lectures were dominant with more stress on written work. It was a common feeling that curriculum was too heavy. Most of the educators felt that the time available for content enrichment was very less”.   Details are available at the following website :

Kaliyuva Mane’s biggest hurdle is the non-availability of persons with knowledge, skill, passion and commitment to teach.   The impact of Kaliyuva Mane on children would have been 200% more if we had had such man makers.   The role of teachers in nation building is grossly under-estimated in India.  So it is a challenge to discover service minded persons with requisite knowledge, competency to transmit knowledge in rural areas. 

A doctor’s blunder kills a patient; An engineer’s blunder spoils a monument; A teacher’s mistake spoils generations - Dr. Radhakrishnan  ( heard )

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Raji, India & We

Raji, India and We :

Rajeshwari (fondly called as Raji) was 11 years young when she joined Kaliyuva mane.  At the time of admission, she did not know how to spell the word, “English” and had committed more than half a dozen mistakes in three lines of Kannada writing.   She was neither a school dropout nor a dyslexic.  She had completed 6th standard and was going regularly to school. I wanted to know her aspirations.  She uttered, 'DOCTOR'.  I could not suppress my smile.  I decided to make her at least a nurse.  

But she went on to finish X standard in first class that too in English medium! This speaks volumes about her grit, steely determination and hard work. [Her detailed case study has been given at the end.]  Raji's feat made Prof. Rame Gowda who sponsored her education  happy.   But Raji was adamant.   She reiterated her wish to study medicine.  I thought, she was overambitious.  But she went ahead and joined NIE PU college taking PCMB as electives.  Generous help came from Shashank, our volunteer who arranged her college fees.  Now every weekend  Azaruddin (our volunteer) and Raji come to Kaliyuva Mane.  Azaruddin sits with her for several hours mentoring and tutoring her. He inspires me too!  Even now I consider Raji overambitious and feel MBBS is Mt. Everest for her, but silently want her to become Edmund Hilary or Tenzing.

Raji raises many ‘if and buts’.   If she had had the same quality(?) education of 2+6 years just like her urban counterparts from educated families, she would have definitely become a doctor.  Who knows, even now she may pass PUC in flying colours and join MBBS.  If she cannot, who is responsible?  Raji or the system?  Is Raji's a stray case?  No, there are millions of Rajis in the villages of India.  In fact, 51.8% of 5th standard rural children cannot read 2nd standard mother tongue text books as per the Annual Status of Education Report released by Dr. Kapil Sibal, our minister of human resources! ( ) What about these children’s future?  MBBS doctors refuse to serve one year in villages!  Rather they prefer to pay a fine of 1,00,000/-.  So what about the future of Indian villages where more than two third of Indians dwell?  Finally what about the future of  India as a wholeThough our constitution guarantees EQUALITY of status and of opportunity to all Indians, this has remained a distant dream even after 65 years of freedom.   

We all love India.  We celebrate Independence day.  We respect national flag and anthem.  We celebrate India's success in cricket.  We rejoice when Indians win medals at Olympics.  Divyadeepa wants to go beyond this token patriotism.  We consisder every educated person with values as an asset to our country in particular and to the world at large.  "Human capital is a vital ingredient in building a nation. Education is the passport to accelerated economic growth and is the key to build human capital"  - Anon

So more Kaliyuva Manes ( to be precise, better models of Kaliyuva Manes ) functioning on the principle “School for children” should come up throughout the length and breadth of Indian villages and co-exist with the main stream schools which work on the principle “Children for school”.  For that to happen, we should stabilize existing Kaliyuva Mane first.  We should transform Kaliyuva Mane from individual model to institution model.   Without indulging in any blame game we must go on to create a replicable model of education system for mentally sound children who find main stream schools inadequate.

Reasonably good infrastructure has been built.   We need a school bus to ferry more day scholars, one more driver and more diesel month after month.  During night we have lost two bicycles and an old scooter. So campus needs a compound wall and the residents feel secure.  On positive side, more children friendly systems are evolving.  We have taken up 3 years' rigorous Teacher empowerment programme'.   Income generating units have to be established.  Kaliyuva Mane should  become financially self-sustaining.
Parallely  efforts to get recognition for Kaliyuva Mane is going on.   I personally met BEO.  I have officially written to BEO requesting him to visit Kaliyuva Mane for inspection.  But he is yet to respond.  Today we are going to officially file application seeking recognition for Kaliyuva Mane. (to both DDPI and BEO)   It took plenty of time for me to prepare a document of 160 pages.  If they don't respond, we have to write to Education ministers.  If not.................. 

So plenty of work to do! Millions of people have sacrificed their lives to give us political freedom.  Now we have to free India from poverty and ignorance.  Divyadeepa needs  resources- both  human and financial.  Divyadeepa needs continued support from patrons, volunteers and well-wishers.  We need more patrons, volunteers and well-wishers for this grass root level nation-building task.  Whether you are a selfish person  seeking your happiness in helping others or a spiritual person who consider work as body's best prayer to the Divine, you are welcome to associate with Divyadeepa.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Crossing all the hurdles

Crossing all the hurdles......

Shwetha M. (DOB : 27-01-1997)

Shwetha's father works in a mutton shop.  Her mother works as a domestic help from dawn to dusk.  Father is an illiterate and mother has studied up to 4th standard.  They stay in a small tiny rented shed in Srirampura village, around 7 kms from Kaliyuva Mane.  Shwetha's parents have 5 children.  Shwetha is the middle one.  Shwetha's mother takes major share of the responsibility of the family.  Father has not found time to visit Kaliyuva Mane even once where his daughter stays since five years.  
Shwetha was going to the main stream rural Kannada medium school.  She was going to the school once in a blue moon due to multiple reasons such as inherent disinterest, rote teaching methods, lack of guidance at home, fear of punishment at schools etc.  She eventually dropped out.  After dropping out 10 year old Shwetha started accompanying her mother.  While her mother used to work, daughter used to play at the mother's work place.  
Shwetha's mother Bhagya used to come to Kaliyuva Mane in exingent situations.  While her mother used to be busy in washing vessels, this little girl used to enjoy swing  at Kaliyuva mane. One day Bhagya had come to Kaliyuva mane with her five children.   Elders used to help her mother, while others used to play.  We asked the eldest child to join the school.  But Shwetha was keener.  So she became a part of Kaliyuva Mane family on 17-04-2007.  
She started learning from scratch at Kaliyuva mane.  i.e from Kannada alphabets and numbers.  She was happy and progressing during first 3 years.  But gradually her interest declined.  During the summer vacation of 2011, Shwetha did not return to Kaliyuva mane.  Instead she went to Bangalore and was working in someone's home taking care of a one year young infant.  That experience was an eye opener for her!  She came back to Kaliyuva Mane  with a firm determination.  She started cooperating with the staff members.  Now she has passed X standard public examination in English medium.  She is the first girl to have passed X standard in the whole family.  She has one younger brother and one younger sister who have dropped out from the school.  A few days ago, her younger sister Megha joined Kaliyuva mane as a resident scholar.   
Shwetha wants to stay at Kaliyuva Mane and learn dance, arts and tailoring. 
Manu Kumar K. (DOB : 27th November 1993)

Manu hails from Mellahalli located on Bannur road.  Both the parents are illiterates.  Manu is the second son.   Farming is the family profession.  Manu completed 1st standard from a rural main stream Kannada medium school.  He lost interest in the studies and dropped out from the school due to multiple reasons such as inherent disinterest, rote teaching methods, lack of guidance at home, fear of punishment at schools etc. 
Manu started helping his parents in farming and taking care of the cows.  In the meantime, Manu's uncle Shivalingu, an illiterate had learnt reading and writing attending literacy classes conducted by Divyadeepa at Mellahali way back in 1996.  His uncle having understood the importance of education brought Manu's parents to Kaliyuva Mane.  On 9th April 2007, Manu became a part of Kaliyuva mane family.   He knew only to write his name in Kannada, but started cooperating with the staff.  With his fine attitude and hard work he could complete X standard public examination in English medium.   His younger brother 14 year Mahesha is continuing his education at Kaliyuva Mane having dropped out of school for more than 4 years. 
Renuka Swamy S.M. : ( DOB : 31st January, 1996)

Renuka Swamy lost his father when he was quite young.  His mother brought him up.  His mother works in a small eatery in a village on the outskirts of Davanagere.   Her dream was to give her only son good education.  She had studied up to 9th standard and knew the worth of education. So with great difficulty, she made him join a private Kannada medium school.  
But Renuka did not show much interest in studies.  He failed in 6th standard and stopped going to school.  Through word of mouth, Renuka’s mother came to know about Kaliyuva Mane.  So Renuka joined Kaliyuva Mane on 15-04-2008 as a resident scholar.  We found him bright but not suitable for structured studies.  Even at Kaliyuva Mane, he was not interested in studies initially.   But he gradually started evincing interest in studies. Renuka has passed X standard exams in English medium. 
Rajeshwari M. (DOB : 16th April 1996)

Rajeshwari’s parents stay at Ashokapuram in a rented house. Her father works as a painter.  Her mother is a housewife.    Father has passed SSLC and mother has passed 5th standard.  So they are aware of the importance of education.  They have 4 daughters.  Rajeshwari is the youngest.  Rajeshwari was regularly attending main stream Kannada medium school.  
Rajeshwari’s eldest sister Jaishri stays at Kenchalagudu.  Divyadeepa has trained her and presently she is working in Divyadeepa.  Jaishri was worried about her sister’s poor academic performance.  So Jaishri brought her sister to Kaliyuva Mane.  She had passed 6th standard in the main stream school.  At Kaliyuva Mane she was subjected to a simple assessment test.  The result was shocking.  She could not write a few lines properly in her mother tongue. 
She joined Kaliyuva Mane as a day scholar on 31st May 2007.  In 2009, she joined as a resident scholar. We found her studious and hard working.  She has passed X standard public exams in English medium in first class.  
Dhanush P. (27th December 1996) 
Dhanush’s father Mr. Puttaswamy was working in a private firm at Kollegal.  But unfortunately the firm closed down.  So he did not  get wages for several months. Divydeepa’s wellwisher introduced Puttaswamy to Divyadeepa in 2003.   For several years, Dhanush’s father used to work at Divyadeepa taking care of the dairy farm and the land.  Kaliyuva Mane was started in June 2005.  Naturally his daughter joined Kaliyuva Mane.  Dhanush who had completed 4th standard in a Kannada medium main stream school, joined Kaliyuva Mane in 2006 as a resident scholar. 
Dhanush’s parents are educated.  Lady luck smiled on Puttaswamy’s family.  Puttaswamy’s wife got a Anganwadi teacher’s job in Kenchalagudu itself.    Mr. Puttaswamy  got a job as a cook in a hostel. Presently they are staying in a rented house in Kenchalagudu. 
Dhanush is a bright boy.  Now he has passed X standard  in English medium, securing first class.   
Shivaraj (DOB : 20th August 1996) 
Shivaraj’s parents stay at Dhanagahalli in a small house.   Shivaraj’s father works in an industry.   Mother is a housewife.  Father has studied up to 9th standard.  
Shivaraj was studying in a Kannada medium main stream school.  His parents were not happy with the boy’s scholastic performance. Through word of mouth, Shivaraj’s father came to know about Kaliyuva Mane.   So they brought the boy to Kaliyuva Mane.  On 04-06-2007, he joined the school as a day scholar.  In  2009, he joined as a resident scholar.  
His younger brother Manju also studies at Kaliyuva Mane.

To know Kaliyuva Mane method of education click here

To contribute click here

To volunteer click here

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

SPARK THE RISE grant finale

It was 20th April 2012 evening.  Venue was Prince of Wales museum lawn, Mumbai.   Weather was hot and humid.   I was one of the 18 project champions sitting on the dais representing Divyadeepa, Mysore.    The occasion was announcement of grant finale grant winners of the event, SPARK THE RISE. Spark the Rise is a platform created by Mahindra, the automobile giant to help put ideas into action to drive positive change in India.  I was pleasantly surprised to hear my name announced by Ms. Parvathy Menon.  Yes, we got 2nd runner up grant of Rupees 20 lakhs.   Needless to say that I was very happy!   I thanked Mahindra for pouring oil into Divyadeepa which in turn help us to light up the lives of many OUT OF SYSTEM children.  

I came to know about this through one of our volunteers Ananth Nag.    Our project, ‘Education of OUT OF SYSTEM’ children emerged as a winning entry in the month of November garnering maximum number of votes.   Architects of this were volunteers.   At 12 midnight of 30th November, the tone and tenor of the calls I received from the volunteers echoed a feeling of joy, jubilation and their emotional commitment to Divyadeepa.  On the last day alone our project got 1300 votes.  Volunteers bunked classes, went to schools, colleges, software companies explained the concept of Spark The Rise and sought votes for our project.

Naturally preparation for the grand finale was even more joshful.  We sent mails to all patrons and well-wishers, requested all the visitors to this rural project to vote.  Volunteers prepared meaningful posters.   This time we got more votes within 50% of time.  We did our best.   Our volunteer’s spirit was very high.  But other project champions bettered our best!  Hats off to them for all the hard work!  As per the number of votes, we stood in 6th place, so chances of getting the grants were bleak.  Naturally our volunteers were disappointed.  But I think we got the support of the jury.  Our project is innovative, its impact is very high and has sustained without Government’s support for 7 years.  I’m sure; we have the God’s Grace.  We will continue to have It, as long as we remain sincere.

In the afternoon session, prior to the grant giving ceremony was a fruitful discussion session with TIE and Mahindra staff members.   The Indus Enterprises (TIE) provide mentorship to project champions.   The discussions were more or less general in nature.  There were 6 tables.  Project champions were made to move from one table to another for discussing different topics.  Some topics were interesting: What are the common pitfalls during establishing any organisation?, How to attract volunteers? Why innovations are not encouraged in India?, How profits and non-profits cooperate?... Visiting cards were exchanged so that project-specific mentorship could be sought in future.

Prior to this at Mahindra Guest house where all the project champions stayed, we had an informal group discussion in the morning.  I came to know about the inspirational work of other members.  Each project has its own unique challenges and solution has to be found out by the person who is working at the grass root level.  

Thanks to Mahindra for organising the event so well.  As usual it was a great learning experience for me.  Our gratitude to all who supported Divyadeepa in this event.  This grant will take care of our entire operational cost for one year.   Or if we keep this amount in corpus, the interest can take care of the life cycle of six children including their food, clothing, medical expenses and quality education.  This event helped me to understand our own work in different perspectives.


Monday, April 9, 2012

Detailed document about our school

People ask many difficult questions about our school. But once they visit our school, they go out with a feeling, “Oh, I got all the answers”. Some FAQ :

Who are OUT OF SYSTEM children?
Children for whom there is no proper school. (Except mentally retarded)
From what standard to what standard?
Children are not divided into rigid standards.
Is this a Kannada medium school or an English medium school?
Neither a Kannada medium school nor an English medium school in a conventional sense.
Why you don't have exams?
Unnecessary. We have a system to evaluate the child’s progress and to fix the curriculum
Is your school ICSE / CBSE / State Government recognized?
No. But children, parents/guardians have recognised. We are going to seek recognition as a grass root level rural educational research home/alternative school.
How do you sustain this?
This is growing from strength to strength since 7 years. But still a long way to go…

Please, click on the following link for a 27 page detailed document on our project.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Annual Sports Day at Kaliyuva Mane

Feb 2012
 Annual Sports Day at our school 19th Februrary 2012

On 18th February afternoon, around 30 youth from SJCE descended on playground of Kaliyuva Mane. They asked me for brooms. We had only two. So a few of them started making brooms. (We have plenty of coconut trees.) Some started cleaning the playground, some started watering the ground so that dust could settle down, some started preparing tracks, a few went out to bring some materials from city, some became busy in preparing the sand heap for long jump event...... After all the ground work, many left for their hostels/homes. Few of them halted at Kaliyuva Mane to continue the unfinished work in the morning.

19th morning was the event. Around 75 volunteers were present. Running race, relay race, balloon bursting, long jump, lemon and spoon, sack race were the events. Children and volunteers participated with enthusiasm. The school campus resembled that of a college campus. Volunteers outnumbered children. Afternoon session, volunteers played cricket with the kids.

In the evening, Mrs. Anita Rajendra, the president, Inner Wheel club-west, while distributing prizes to all children, showered praises on the volunteers. Children were bone tired and went to bed happily. Hopefully volunteers must also have extracted their slice of happiness.

To view photos, click on the link below:

Monday, February 13, 2012

How to give this child a better future?

Another OUT OF SYSTEM girl joins Kaliyuva Mane family as a resident scholar.

A few days ago, I received a call from one of my friend. He was recommending a girl for admission to Kaliyuva Mane. I was a bit surprised. Because he himself was running a free child care centre in city, recognised and supported by Government. He explained his helplessness. He had a problem in admitting the child. The girl’s father did not submit the required documents.

Next day father of the girl brought her to Kaliyuva Mane. He narrated his side of the story. His cup of woes opened. This is what I gathered from him. He is an illiterate. He earns around Rs. 150/- per day by carving out wooden dolls. He stays in a rented house at Kyatamaranahalli near Udayagiri Mysore. He has two daughters. His 14 years old girl has dropped out from the school. Unfortunately, 6 months before his wife left home and till date husband is unable to trace her whereabouts. He has lodged the complaint with the police.

Now, I will tell you little more about the girl in question, his second daughter. She is around 12 years young, dark complexioned. The girl was studying in 6th standard in a Kannada medium private school. Her father found it difficult to manage both the girls, financially and otherwise. So, since one week the girl is staying with her relative, not going to school. I asked Rajeshwari (our resident teacher) to take the girl out, talk to her gently and to gauge her educational standard, while I continued to engage the father in conversation.

After some time, Rajeshwari entered our office, ‘Spandana’ with a shocking and disappointed look on her face. The girl could not recognize the colours like rose, yellow, green and orange. Identification of left hand and right hand created chaos in her mind. She could only identify about 12 Kannada alphabets. Reading Kannada words of two letters was difficult for her. Two digits addition was beyond her comprehension. Her knowledge of English did not go beyond recognizing alphabets A to F.

The father’s face reflected anxiety and restlessness, whereas the girl was oblivious to all this and was smiling. I could empathize with the father, as many child care homes had rejected admission for the girl because one of the parent’s death certificate was a prerequisite for admission. Our teacher Kavitha filled in all the forms and the father signed on the dotted lines. I asked the girl whether she would like to join our school. She answered in affirmative. Father was relieved to know that the girl could join Kaliyuva Mane.

This morning, the father brought the girl again to Kaliyuva Mane and left her. She became a new member of Kaliyuva mane family. No tears, no visible feelings of separation! Vivek group children assured me that they would take care of her!

Now a lot of questions haunt me! What are the feelings of this little innocent girl? How educated parents would have reacted to her poor scholastic performance? Whether the ‘child is for the school’ or the ‘school is for the child? Is photo important or frame? Do our policy makers know the grass root level issues plaguing our education system? I have many questions for Mr. Kapil Sibal / Vishweshwar Heggade Kageri! But in a democratic country like ours, can a common man meet ministers?

But the most important question now for us is: ‘How to give this child a better future?