Buliding from the ground up
Strengthening Primary Education in the Tehri District of Uttarakhand in response to the 2013 floods
The students, all dressed in their blue-checked uniforms, sit in rows before their plates, waiting patiently for everyone to get food before beginning their midday meals. As the last few students run up the ramp of their new schoolhouse, two students stand up while the rest fold their hands in prayer, squeezing their eyes shut. The next few minutes consist of call-and-response as the two students lead their classmates in prayer.Students at PS Sinjal prepare to pray before the midday meal provided to them by the school.
When cloudbursts struck Uttarakhand in June of 2013, the rains left villages in the Tehri district in ruins. And with it, the village Sinjal’s only primary school. To provide aid to rebuild the village following the disaster, the CII Foundation initiated rehabilitation efforts, including the complete reconstruction of eight disaster-damaged schools including this primary school in Sinjal. The program has reached schools in the Mulaya, Bagwan, Satagad, Hadiyada, Pangaria, and Anthwalgaon villages, all within the Tehri district.
Following the introduction of this rehabilitation initiative, Primary School (PS) Sinjal saw enrollment increase to 41 students, over a 30% jump in the number of students prior to the project. Monthly meetings between the parents and the teachers ensure that students have everything they need to be successful in school.
“What do you want to be when you grow up?” we, CII Foundation representatives visiting PS Sinjal, asked the shy fourth-grader.
“Ma’am,” the 12-year-old, Sonum, said with a grin.Sonum, smiles as she explains her plans for her future. When she gets home after school, she helps her mother around the house. Her older brother attends a school in Dehradun.
The efforts to place the schools on the road to discovery did not stop at the infrastructure. In addition to rebuilding the schools, CII Foundation provided furniture, solar lamps, teacher learning aids, and a new program Muskaan. The program seeks to bring a smile to every child’s face by providing teacher training and innovative programs to motivate students to continue further education.
“What is your favorite subject?”
Students laugh as they tell us about their new favorite subject: math. They have seen the impacts of the Muskaan learning aids, increasing their interest in math classes.
Overwhelmingly, the students at this school prefer math to their English and Hindi classes. According to teachers, that has changed as a result of the 5 months of new teaching by the Muskaan program coordinator. Their love of math is a reflection of the success of the new learning aids the program provides, including a math kit. The kit, complete with hands-on activities and an interactive curriculum has significantly increased the student interest in the subject. In addition, the program has brought new books and audiovisual tools using television monitors to the schools, which the students at this school get to use every day.
PS Sinjal’s Muskaan program coordinator displays the contents of the math kit provided through the program. She says the hands-on learning encouraged by the program is something the students really enjoy.
Based on the success of the math program and learning aids provided by the Muskaan program, the teachers hope to incorporate similar systems in their English and Hindi classes in the future.