It is a sight to behold as the boys and girls assemble for their morning prayers, dressed in their spanking new uniforms, seeking the blessings of the Almighty before beginning their day at the school. I am at the Radhaswamibagh Government School at Jaitpura in Jaipur along with PDG Ramesh Agrawal, Registrar of IIS University Rtn Raakhi Gupta and Mukesh Singh, the CSR Manager at Rtn Suresh Poddar’s Mayur Uniquoters.
As the children file back to their classes after a session of yoga, what catches the eye is the striking yellow and blue rows of toilets for girls. “We have sourced the toilet blocks from Tata Steel,” says PDG Ramesh Agrawal, RC Jaipur Midtown. A set of 8 toilet blocks cost Rs 6 lakh while a stand-alone is priced at Rs 75,000.
About 300 students study in this school and the club has given them uniform sets and all other study material, besides providing water purifiers, classroom furniture, e-learning equipment, lab equipment, computers, library, toys and play material.
The club has provided similar facilities to ten other government schools, thanks to its member Suresh Poddar, also an AKS donor. His Term Gift of $60,000 to TRF, along with $12,500 DDF, matched by the Foundation, helped in converting these institutions into Happy Schools. “It is my dream to transform Government schools to be at par with private schools in such a way that you or I will not think twice about sending our children to these schools,” says Poddar.
100 Happy Schools
The club has pledged to adopt 100 schools around Jaipur and provide necessary infrastructure in a phased manner. The estimate works out to $9 lakh and it will benefit around 32,000 students. Agrawal, who is the Project Coordinator and District WinS Chair, has appealed to various clubs to pitch in either individually or through their DDF. “We plan to complete the project within three years, but even if it stretches beyond that, Poddar and I will ensure that we keep our promise, irrespective of whether we find a matching partner or not,” he says.
Raakhi is eager to provide support to these children. “Who wants to become an IAS officer,” she quizzes the students of Class 9 at Radhaswami School. Eight girls put up their hands!
Enthused by the facilities provided by Rotary in the 11 schools, but saddened by the inability of these children to communicate confidently, she enlists Singh’s help in identifying a couple of schools that the IIS University, of which PDG Ashok Gupta is the Vice Chancellor, can adopt. She suggests that their NSS wing comprising 300 student-volunteers can visit the schools and take classes for them. She also announces that it will donate their playschool material too.
Elsewhere, at another government school, she interacts with the teachers and offers to train them in computers, communication and career-counselling through the University, only to be met with a lukewarm response. Later, when she discusses this with Suresh and Kiran Poddar, Kiran expresses her concern about the quality of teachers in many of these government schools.
Poddar volunteers to organise a meeting in his office with the principals over lunch, where he will request them to identify a few of their brighter teachers, who can later be trained at IIS University. “We have to change the attitude of the teachers and motivate them; their reluctance to learn has to be addressed,” he adds. Next on the agenda is conducting health camps for these schools and discussions with Akshayapatra of ISKCON to provide healthy mid-day meals for students is heading in the right direction, he shares.
Pictures by Jaishree