VIDYASTHALI : PROVIDING QUALITY EDUCATION IN RURAL AREA
Vidyasthali Kanar High school is a co-educational, dual medium school situated in Malihabad, 32 kilometers away from Lucknow, established in 2005 by Study Hall Educational Foundation, with the goal of providing affordable but high quality education to rural children. It started with 84 children from 55 villages in a 25 km radius. In 2011, the Kewal Ramani foundation joined our effort and has been generously supporting it financially. The school runs pre-school to class 10 classes and is affiliated to the UP State board. A dedicated staff of 20 teachers provides quality education to over 433 students in science, arts and the commerce stream. The school has an inclusive approach and has a diverse student body in terms of class and caste. The mission of the school is to provide a caring, nurturing learning environment to students, to maintain high academic standards, develop critical thinking, and an innovative, entrepreneurial, solution oriented approach. Our aim is to help students to aspire for strong professional careers and to equip them for these, but more significantly to enable them and inspire them to contribute meaningfully to the development of their own villages as well. The school has a strong reputation in the region and we are now working at full capacity. With the kind support of the Kewal Ramani Foundation, we are expanding our building in order to increase our outreach to a larger group of students. Our larger goal is to make Vidyasthali a hub of rural development, for education and other entrepreneurial experiments in rural areas. We are actively working to develop partnerships with other organizations towards this end.
Vidyasthali is equipped with high quality facilities, and well trained teachers, most of who travel from Lucknow ever day. The curriculum is activity based and interactive, enriched with sports, drama, dance and music. The teachers ensure that individual attention is given to each child a in a nurturing, caring environment. Academic learning is rooted practically in real life rural contexts as students are encouraged to think critically and creatively about the social and physical problems of their regions with the aim of finding effective solutions. The school is equipped with computers, projectors and the internet. Multimedia is effectively used in teaching all the subjects. Students are also encouraged to prepare multi-media presentations on their own. All attempts are made to provide students with much needed exposure by way of travel to urban cities in India and participation in international exchange programs. One of our students, Renu Yadav, qualified for a year long scholarship to a high school in the United States of America, where she acquitted herself with honours! Several international students have visited the school in internship programs. Interaction with them adds to their exposure and develops in them a cosmopolitan understanding of the world.
During the board exams the school resembles Tagore’s Shantiniketan. Students are kept in residence so that they can be prepared intensively by their teachers who also reside with them. A majority of our students are first generation learners with very little academic support at home. The community participates generously by keeping the students and teachers in good supply of food. Teachers are committed to helping their students perform competitively with students who have the support of educated parents who not only value education more but can afford expensive coaching classes. Understanding the financial constraints of rural populations, we have kept our fees very affordable, subsidizing them by almost 60%. An average monthly fee of Rs. 450 is charged with scholarships for students, particularly girls who are unable to afford even that. Out of 435 students xxx are recipients of scholarships and freeships..
Our students have graduated with good results and are pursuing college degrees in the arts, sciences, law, engineering, medicine and computer studies. Along with their studies, students take up one social problem from their region each year. They have worked at improving a local government primary school, raising awareness against Child Marriage for girls, against gender based violence and campaigned for girls education in their villages. They have formed a students group called Pravartak, which engages in activities aimed at social change in their communities. We believe that ‘quality education’ must enable students to become agents of transformation in their personal lives as well as in their social worlds and we have been working at this for a decade now. We hope our alumni will join us in our endeavour, carry the work forward and make Vidyasthali a hub of excellence in the region.