5 Feb 2014

Tackling School Drop Outs in a Creative Manner: KGBV Residential Schools

We met Sheela at the Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya (KGBV) near the smallvillage of Kanauthi, near Jaipur in Rajasthan. A coy girl, she stood up on instructions of herclass teacher and confidently said “My name is Sheela. I am studying English in this school. I like the school very much”. 
What may surprise the average reader in this context may be the fact that Sheela is eighteen, never had any formal education and probably is the first person from her remote hamlet in Western Rajasthan to speak English! All because of the imaginative residential school programme called KGBV for girls being implemented as part of the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA).
Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya (KGBV) is a scheme launched in July 2004, for setting up residential schools at upper primary level for girls belonging predominantly to the SC, ST, OBC and minority communities. 
The scheme is being implemented in educationally backward blocks of the country where the female rural literacy is below the national average and gender gap in literacy is above the national average. The objective of KGBV is to ensure access and quality education to the girls of disadvantaged groups of society by setting up residential schools with boarding facilities.
The scheme has been implemented in 27 states and union territories. They includeRajsthanTamilnadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh,Dadar & Nagar Haveli, Delhi, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal PradeshJammu and Kashmir, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Manipur,Assam., Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Orissa, Punjab, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and West Bengal.
In 2010-11 opening of KGBVs has been extended to all Educationally Backward Blocks (EBBs) with low rural female literacy levels, according to current census figures. As per the latest available figures, 2578 KGBVs have been sanctioned by the Government till date. Of these, 427 KGBVs have been sanctioned in Muslim concentration blocks, 612 in ST blocks, 688 in SC blocks.
Each KGBV – there are 200 in Rajasthan – is set up with inputs from either the SSA or the Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) – both programmes primarily meant to check and arrest drop outs from schools. Under the scheme each student is given Rs 1800 per year for expenses like two sets of uniforms, shoes and socks, learning materials etc. They are also entitled to Rs 30 per day for food. However, Ms Denam Chaturvedi, the Headmistress of the KGBV we visited during a tour of Rajasthan was of the opinion that the food allowance can be raised on par with the rise in expenses.
She also pointed out that the students are being given food according to a schedule that takes into consideration their nutritional needs and tastes. Ms Chaturvedi and her colleagues – there were two other teachers as well as two assistants and other staff like cook, aayah etc – also said that in addition to instruction in core subjects like English, Science and Maths, girls are being given classes in Value Education, General Knowledge etc.
In addition, girls are also being given vocational education in trades like tailoring, computer applications, designing etc.
An interesting aspect of the KGBV scheme is that students from various parts of the state are making use of the hostel facilities. In Kanauti there were students from as far away as Bikaneer.
Another noteworthy feature was the involvement of the local people in the administration of the hostel. A committee, with a majority of local ladies and guardians as members, look after the day to day administration of the school and hostel. Social workers, educationists, teachers, parents etc are active members of the committee.
We talked to Mukhari, a young girl who was silently standing in one corner of a class room. She smiled and said that she finds English and Maths classes as interesting. She says she wants to become a teacher – a teacher of English in her own village of Chottia Peeliya! That sums up the impact of the programme in the best possible manner. Here is a girl from a remote Indian village who wants to give back to her village what she earned from education!

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