Community efforts have often resulted in bringing about major changes, and if invested towards education, the benefits transcend over generations.
Many government schools across the state of Maharashtra are being equipped with digital amenities that enable better learning experiences for children, purely through funding by the people.
According to NDTV, close to 47,000 out of 65,000 government primary schools in the state have been digitally equipped through crowdfunding.
A government primary school in Vadgaon Gund, about 200 km from Mumbai, has been transformed over the last one year — tablets and interactive projectors have replaced notebooks and blackboards. All this through funds accumulated by the people themselves.
“For over a year now, we have been using tablets. Besides studying, we also like to play games related to math, English, sciences. Technology has definitely made classes more interesting,” Diksha Balulanke, a class 4 student, told NDTV.
The school was able to collect about ₹3 lakh, out of which they were able to buy solar-charged tablets for all the students and an Xbox containing an interactive syllabus.
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And this is not an isolated initiative.
In the village of Dhekusim, falling under Jalgaon district, a Marathi-medium school now has an LCD projector, a laptop and Wi-Fi-enabled classrooms.
“The changes, including a 2,000-square-foot compound wall and revamped classrooms, came not through government intervention but from funds raised from villagers,” Suresh Patil, the headmaster of the school, told The Indian Express.
“When we reached out to people and sought help to improve the school, the villagers donated about ₹5.5 lakh. As of today, at least 10 students have left private schools to join our school. Our total number of students has gone up from 42 to 78,” Patil added.
While this is definitely inspiring, here is another instance where an investment banker helped transform the entire district of Dhule, making it the first in the state to have government schools with completely digital classrooms, last year.
Harshal Vibhandik, who lives in New York, had come down to his hometown in Dhule. “I had ₹ 9 lakh with me and after visiting a few schools, I decided to digitise nine of them. But then, villagers wanted to pitch in too and that is when the 70:30 funding idea came to me, with villagers raising the majority of the money,” Harshal says.
Soon enough, a collective effort of Harshal, his friends abroad, donors, villagers, and even local NGOs pitched in and covered all of 1,103 Zila Parishad schools in Dhule.
Also, many teachers have been trying innovative methods to reach out for funds. Putting up the name of the sponsor on every donated article, the teachers of a government school in Kardelwadi under Pune district, came up with the idea thinking that this will encourage more people to donate.
“It gives them a sense of fulfillment and it doesn’t really take anything from us. So we started writing the names of the donors. Now, for almost anything we need, we turn to the villagers and they get it for us instantly. So from computers to science labs, our small village school with less than 100 students has almost everything that a big city school would. This truly is a people’s movement for education,” Bebinanda Sakat, a teacher in the school, told the Indian Express.