Primary School Support
Chirag has been working to improve the quality of education provided in government primary schools in the Kumaun region since 1990. Our central contribution has been the introduction of the BalShikshak (auxiliary teachers) program, to improve the student-teacher ratio in the classes. The BalShikshaks are chosen from within the community and help government appointed teachers carry out their daily lesson plans. As of today, the BalShikshak program is operational in 51 primary schools wherein the student-teacher ratio was more than 30 students per teacher. Community contribution is sought for the BalShikshak services, which ensures that the community remains invested in the quality of teaching provided to their children. Besides financial funding, we support the BalShikshaks by holding regular workshops and trainings on pedagogy and other subjects related to a child’s developmental needs.
In 2009, the Right to Education Act was implemented by the government and provides for the setting up of School Management Committees (Vidyalayay Prabandhan Samiti), comprising parents and teachers, to monitor the functioning of schools. This initiative decentralizes the administration of schools and gives more power and flexibility to the committees at a local level. However, some difficulties persist. Often, it is the children belonging to the poorest families in the villages who attend Government Primary schools. Parents either lack interest or ability to aid their children with their studies. Consequently, we are working with the members of these School Management Committees to ensure better service delivery at the classroom level.
Part of our efforts in the Education sector also includes the introduction of a School Library Program, with the objective of inculcating the habit of reading amongst young children. These libraries are now maintained by the children themselves and each school now has around 275 books, on average. Bal Manch or Group Readings are held weekly, or at the students demand.
Currently, there are a total of 2428 boys and girls (1188 boys and 1240 girls) studying in 51 government schools in Bageshwar, Ramgarh, Dhari and Bhimtal that beneficiate from our Bal Shikshak and Library program. Health Checkups and summer camps are also held each year to promote all-round development of the children.