Anjuli Bhargava: A Sea Change In The Foothills

Exposure to education and a livelihood opportunity in Uttarakhand’s Purkal village has transformed lives in the region

The sarpanch of Uttarakhand’s Purkal village - Neetu Juyal - is 29 years old and the mother of two small children. As sarpanch, her responsibilities are wide-ranging. Any disaster relief operation, improvement in living conditions, water shortage, road or house collapse due to heavy rain, decisions on how to use the funds provided by the state for the betterment of lives fall into Juyal’s lap. She – along with her husband and a team of four others – govern and manage this village.

A task traditionally reserved for uneducated men usually over 60 years, Juyal, a Hindi medium graduate, is undoubtedly an aberration. Four years ago, her village elected her. Although she’s not the first woman sarpanch in the area, she’s by far the youngest ever.

Juyal’s self-confidence and poise explain why she may have been chosen for the task. But above all, her selection is also a reflection of the sea change this village has seen in the last two decades. When G.K Swamy, founder of Purkal Youth Development Society (PYDS) – a CBSE school in the village - and his wife Chinni moved to the Purkal village (see : When Life Starts at 60, Business Standard edition December 10, 2016) almost 20 years ago, the village – like many across India – lived in a time warp sticking to its own traditional ways and refusing to change with the times.

The plight of women and young girls was particularly heart wrenching. Small girls were often malnourished as the male child got nourished first. If anything was left to spare, the girl would be lucky to get it but there were no guarantees. Often, the Swamys came across young girls in the village who seemed behind their years in development due to malnourishment in the formative years.

Girls were usually not educated much or if at all, they stopped at elementary. Marriages of girls at the ages of 15-16 were not uncommon and brides coming into the villages were often as young. The brides often could not name the boy or family they were married into. Marriages were mostly arranged and a love marriage was usually a scandal. Girls were not encouraged to do anything other than housework. Indeed, they were not encouraged even to leave the house.

If girls were malnourished and ill-treated, women were not much better off. Alcoholism and domestic violence were both commonplace. This despite the fact that financially the village was better off than many in the region. Besides the usual subsistence agriculture, many men in the village were employed at a factory. This had also necessitated the building of a pucca road, which brings unimaginable benefits to the residents.

But after the factory went into disuse, men employed there were paid but had no work. They spent their time drinking and whiling their time away. Unemployment among the youth was rampant and often not frowned upon. People mostly managed by doing odd jobs to earn enough for survival. Bettering their lives in a concrete and organized fashion was not really considered an option.

Even on the sanitary front, things were dismal. Open defecation was the norm. Toilets were unheard of and garbage would be strewn anywhere it found a corner. In 2003-04 – after PYDS had started functioning – Swamy organized some funds through a society called Adopt and had 59 toilets built in four villages. “With the building of the toilets, the practice stopped when everyone observed that others were no longer doing it. They would feel awkward so all the houses that have come up since having an in-built toilet”, he explains.

In this cobra-infested countryside, this has been a saviour. Prior to that, deaths of villagers including children due to cobra bites were not unheard of. Last year – in 2017 – another 19 toilets were built in surrounding villages and they too have become open defecation free. There are still 230-odd houses in the school’s catchment area where open defecation remains a way of life but as they gather funds, they will build toilets village by village.

The changes have occurred in just ten years or so. 15 years ago, the Purkal school started in the village and the society was registered. To start with, many locals got a job and started working with the school itself. Simultaneously, the Stree Shakti – a livelihood programme that has almost 170 local women working for it - operation started and many local women found a livelihood opportunity for the first time. Today several of these women earn more than their husbands.

Thinking has evolved and mindsets have undergone a sea change. Girls marrying in their late 20s is not uncommon. Arranged marriages are less and less common. Juyal says 7 out of every 10 are love marriages now. Girls are being educated until whatever level they choose. Many Purkal girls are studying and working in Delhi and other cities. Some are even studying overseas. This year, two PYDS girls will be joining the undergraduate batch of Ashoka University in Sonepat on scholarship.

Some of the children who are now earning and supporting their families don’t really manage to give back to the school or society as such as their first priorities are getting a roof over their heads and getting their sisters or other siblings educated or married. But they are no longer hand to mouth in any way or many are even joining the more prosperous segment of society. Their attitudes and habits have undergone an overhaul.

While women are leading the show in all these villages, the men too have smartened up and got their act together. Earlier one of the first things a new bride received was a tight slap from her husband, to tell her who is the boss. This no longer holds. It’s not as if domestic violence and alcoholism are not prevalent but both are on the wane.

With many women earning more than their husbands, the men have begun to view the women in a new light. “A sort of respect has crept in when they see women can do the same tasks as well as the men and at times even better”, says Chhattar Singh, 67, a property developer who lives in the village. Singh credits PYDS with the progress he sees around him, arguing that Stree Shakti by putting incomes directly in the hands of women has played almost as big a role as the school. Juyal says unlike the past households with two girls don’t necessarily try to have a boy child.

The men have also begun to see the value of work and education. “They are more driven as they see hope now unlike some years ago”, says Juyal. Her own husband actually supports her work so in some senses she wears the pants in the home.

The transformation and sea change in some lives in particular can only be described as “monumental”. Urmila Naudiyal’s journey is really the stuff of dreams. Naudiyal was struggling to make ends meet when she joined PYDS at inception as a cook at a salary of Rs 1000. Now after 17 years, she earns a salary of Rs 11,000 a month, more than her husband. She says their needs are few and they now manage to eke out a very comfortable living. They have even built a small pucca house in the village that has escalated quite sharply in value. She is now one of the head cooks along with two other ladies. Three men work under them in the kitchen.

But what has been dramatic is the change in the lives of her two sons. When the boys were born, Naudiyal couldn’t even have dreamt of what her sons would achieve and where they would find themselves.

Ankit Naudiyal, her elder son, passed out of PYDS in 2009. He did his B-Tech degree from DIT, a university in Dehradun and managed to land a job with Infosys in Pune. After working there for three years, Naudiyal switched to KPMG Global services in Bangalore recently. When this reporter speaks to him, he’s soon to leave for a work trip to the US. At 27, he manages to support himself fully while living in Bangalore and sends whatever money he can spare home to his parents. A loan taken by the family to pay for his studies is being re-paid by him every month. His younger brother – also a PYDS product – is likely to soon join the merchant navy. Ankit says that “if the country had a 100 or a 1000 Swamys, India would be a changed place”.

Urmila’s eyes shine as she describes her life and the changes it has witnessed in the last 15 years. Swamy and others say her happiness reflects in what she serves on the table daily.

Anjuli Bharvaga

Krishan Gopal: क्या विद्यालय रचनात्मकता को समाप्त करता है ?

विद्यालय रचनात्मकता को प्रोत्साहित करता है। बालक अपनी योग्यता का प्रदर्शन स्कूल में ही करता है। यदि गहराई से देखें तो स्कूल रचनात्मकता को प्रोत्साहित करता है। बालक को अपने हुनर का प्रदर्शन करना होता है । इसके लिए स्कूल एक उचित स्थान है | चाहे आगे चलकर अपनी योग्यता या रचनात्मकता के बूते कामयाब हो जाये | आजकल तो गतिविधि शिक्षण ने बालकों की रचनात्मकता को और भी अधिक निखारा है।

लेखन, चित्र बनाने या कला-उद्योग में अपनी रचनात्मकता का प्रयोग कर सकते है| हर सिक्के के दो पहलू होते है यदि स्कूल रचनात्मकता को बढ़ावा देता है तो संभव है कहीं पर इसमें रुकावभी बनता हो।मेरी दृष्टि में ऐसा तभी संभव है जब शिक्षण का तरीका पारंपरिक हो । यदि आधुनिक तकनीक का प्रयोग करें तो संभव है कि रचनात्मकता अधिक प्रभावी होगी तथा मौलिक होग| देखकर सीखने की क्रिया बालकों में अधिक होती है |

कोई अपने कार्य में रचनात्मकता का प्रयोग करता है उसे प्रशंसा मिलते हुए देखते है तो अन्य बालक भी प्रभावित हुए बिना नहीं रह सकते। एक दूसरे को देखकर सीखना ये गुण स्कूल में ही पनप सकता है। ये अवश्य है कि रचनात्मकता समय लेती है। कभी-कभी व्यक्ति को नकारा भी कह दिया जाता है, असफलता से हतोत्साहित भी हो सकते है, हो सकता है ये मार्ग भी छोड़ दे। इसलिये स्कूल को चाहिए कि ऐसे बालक को उचित अवसर प्रदान करें। असफल होने पर पुनः प्रयास हेतु मार्गदर्शन करें, हतोत्साहित न होने दें।

शिक्षण संस्थाएँ तय करें कि पारंपरिक शिक्षण युक्तियाँ न अपना कर आधुनिकता की ओर अग्रसर हो। नवीन कार्यों के लिए वातावरण मिले तथा उचित मार्गदर्शन भी मिले। यदि ये संभव न हो सकेगा तो रचनात्मकता अवश्य प्रभावित होगी और बालक भी इस मार्ग से मुँह मोड़ लेगा । इस प्रकार बालक की रचनात्मकता समाप्त हो जाएगी। ये स्कूल और वहाँ के शिक्षक ही तय कर सकते हैं कि रचनात्मकता को बढ़ावा देना है या समाप्त करना है

Krishan Gopal

Prerna Rathod: Do Schools Kill Creativity?

Today the world is full of competition and each one wants to be the winner and the best. So is the case with schools. Each school wants to be the best and for this, they are pressurizing the student to get 100% result in academics. This is achieved by forcing students to do rote learning. Whether a student has understood or not, or he is interested or not in learning the topics.

Education is not a system of learning facts and then giving a test so that you get a good result. In fact, it must be a system where with learning facts students become perfect in skills in which they have an interest or are good at it.

Sometimes, a student may not score well in academics. This doesn’t mean he stands nowhere in the world or he will not be able to earn a living. There are many vocational subjects which help us to earn our living in the same way as a person with a degree in academics. The only difference is students with some specific skills go for vocational subjects and they do well there as they have a subject of their interest.

Schools are becoming like factories which produce well in the form of students who do not know how to use their mind as they have always followed instructions of their teachers what to do, how to do and what to learn. The students never got chosen to do what they wanted to do or never got a chance to clear their doubts by asking questions. The creativity in them was never explored. Their mind was never given a chance to think out of the box.

If a student uses his own imagination, then maybe he is capable of making new inventions. There are many examples where people like Albert Einstein, Bill Gates, Sachin Tendulkar and many more who did not complete their studies but they excelled in their own field of skills.

Schools are killing creativity of students. A perfect school is the one which excels its students not only in academics but also develops skills in students. So when he faces the world he becomes an all-rounder.
EDUCATOR – Prerna Rathod   

ABEA - Lead the Way| 25th Feb-19| Dehradun

The Aditya Birla Education Academy located at Mumbai is the newest venture of the Trust, founded with a vision to nurture the aspirations of educators who are in constant pursuit of excellence. The institute aims to equip teaching professionals with skills that will enhance their abilities, enabling them as facilitators to achieving better results in their classroom interactions.

In order to empower professionals, teachers, parents and families of the community, Mpower works towards creating a body of knowledge, expertise and specialises in the field of mental health & providing those in need with resources & information, training & guidance, diagnostic evaluation, therapeutic interventions, psychological counselling.

Educators are responsible for the development of the future generations, hence, it is imperative that they are ever willing to focus on their own professional development as well. The Aditya Birla Education Academy intends to provide its participants with courses that will further enhance their skills as educators and school administrators.

The main goal of the Aditya Birla Education Trust is to touch people’s lives and make a progressive impact whenever we reach out to them. Keeping this in mind, we wish to reach out to the education community in Dehradun via a conclave.

ABEA in association with Mpower is enthralled to present to you "LEAD THE WAY - A Conclave for Educators" which is our initiative to bring together the teaching community to 'lead the way' through close interactions with one another thus, empowering all other stakeholders in the educational sector as well.

The conclave will be held on Monday, 25th February 2019 at The Doon School from 02:30 pm to 06:00 pm and will have a panel discussion and an interactive session on mental health awareness for schools.

The topic for the panel discussion is:
Skill or Concept, which is more important in a child's educational journey.
A coming of age debate, and rightly so! The last two decades have witnessed extensive changes in the educational system. The pace at which career options are evolving and increasing creates an urgent need for the school system to take stock and be future ready today! Educators need to evolve and enable their students with the right balance of skill and conceptual knowledge in order to excel in the varied avenues of the world. However, do we really need a balance, or does the role of one outweigh the other? This discussion is sure to bring to light different perspectives for us all to consider.
PRODIPTA HORE, Program Director
Vastu Shilp Annexe, Gamadia Colony, JD Road, 
Tardeo; Mumbai – 400 007 Phone +91 22 2352 8400 Email

4 Cornerstones of Professional Learning

New white paper

4 Cornerstones of Professional Learning:

Fundamental Principles Pave the Way for Educators’ Actions

Centred on a foundation of the Standards for Professional Learning, this white paper shares research, evidence from practice, and reflections from Stephanie Hirsh's career at Learning Forward, in schools, and as a school board member.


The cornerstones:
  1. Lead with equity. Equity and excellence in teaching and learning is Learning Forward’s vision statement and represents the inspiration, challenge, and essential purpose for pursuing more effective ways to serve educators and students.
  2. Invest in team learning. For every student to succeed, every educator engages in collaborative, job-embedded learning to strengthen capacity and collective responsibility.
  3. Leverage high-quality instructional materials. Educators use their learning time to understand high-quality instructional materials and prepare for implementation, advancing their potential to improve student learning.
  4. Advocate with evidence. To sustain support for professional learning at all levels, educators equip themselves with data from research and practice. They share that data with stakeholders and speak up for their learning and that of their peers.
In addition to exploring each cornerstone, this paper offers focused actions for educators to take within their own contexts.

Dr Tazeen Sidiqqi: My mind is the stem of a tree and soul is the root

When the root is nurtured with love care and faith on thoughts of determination, passion, perseverance, and confidence that gives strength to my mind to nourish the fruits, flowers and leaves to blossom with beauty. Fruits are my decisions, flowers are my thoughts and leaves are my approach towards circumstances.

Root gives strength to my voice of justice, it gives me the power to lead my thoughts and it benefits all with the strength of its nurturing.

My learning tree guides me the lesson to spread love, knowledge and passion and enlighten the thoughts to rise together with excellence.

When the wind is harsh and my learning tree is blown back and forth my roots remind me it's just a temporary hold on to it with great strength of hope.

When there is rain and water drench my learning tree I inherit its qualities of softness, joy and sensitivity.

When there is happiness all around my learning tree, it learns to smile with every moment it witnesses with the strength of great deeds.

Dr. Tazeen Jamal Siddiqui, MD, Mansha Vision India

Dutt Family: Thank You!

#mayde #DnA

Alberto and Carol Miranda Chor: Remember the Rainforest

Good Schools of India Journal @ www.GSI.IN

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