Rotaract Club in Chandigarh has taken up the mission of making the government schools ‘happy’.
The time one spends in school often makes it to the long-lasting cherished memories. The joy of learning, making new friends and understanding the world builds a strong foundation for life.
Unfortunately, for many students, happy schooling is far from reality. Many schools in rural areas lack even basic amenities like furniture, washrooms and other infrastructure.
The Happy School project taken up by Rotary India Literacy Mission aims to change that.
The government school in Mohali’s sector 3B1 has received a makeover in the past four months since the initiation of the project by Rotaract Club in Chandigarh. The aim is to adopt the schools lacking in basic schooling facilities like benches, sanitation, books, proper electricity and security, and give them a makeover.
“Despite the fact that these schools lack even the basic amenities like drinkable water and proper toilets, students still come to school because they want to learn. We want to encourage these children to learn and create an atmosphere conducive to learning,” says Sahil Sharma, team coordinator.
In September 2016, a team of over 500 volunteers conducted a survey of various government schools in and around Chandigarh, and selected four schools that needed the most work. Of the four schools, the one in Mohali sector 3B1 has been declared a Happy School, while the government school in Mikhipind near Dhanas is on its way to becoming one. Renovation of two more schools, one in Togan village and another in Dhanoda village, is underway and will be completed by March 2017, according to Sahil.
“The schools we have chosen to work on were in serious need of renovation. Classrooms were dark, which made the atmosphere dull. Students used to sit on the floor in cold weather. Lights and fans were not working. Washrooms were in a pathetic state. There were no libraries in the schools and no sports equipment at all. So we had to work on all these aspects to make it a Happy School,” says Sahil.
According to the programme’s agenda, there’s a checklist of nine points that makes a Happy School.
These include painted, well-maintained and secure school building, functional separate toilets for boys and girls, wash basins, clean and adequate drinking water for students and teachers, library, games and sports equipment, desks for students, well-maintained space for teaching staff, and shoes and school bags for students.
“It took a lot to build it as it was the first time we were implementing this project. We did everything from surveying hundreds of schools, raising funds, renovating, sometimes building new infrastructure, painting the walls, installing water filters and even changing the light bulbs. We took up a book collection drive to build libraries in the adopted schools. We managed to collect over 600 books for one school’s library. We have also conducted teachers’training to help them bond with students in a better way,’’ says Sahil.
The organisation has shortlisted schools in need of makeover and will continue adopting these schools in the coming months. As and when one school is declared a Happy School, the team will take up the next school on their list.
“Considering that our long term objective is to eradicate illiteracy, I believe that our mission is not going to end until everyone gets access to quality education. We will continue adopting more and more schools and make them happy! The biggest driving force for us is the hope with which children look at us,” says Sahil.