In Chennai, RI President Jennifer Jones inaugurated in just a couple of hours, a bunch of education projects that ranged from providing basic infrastructure to schools to sophisticated e-learning projects involving smart classrooms, interactive panels and slick technology.
One of the most impressive projects launched by President Jones was Gurukool, the signature project done by Rotary Club of Guindy, RID 3232. She showed a lot of interest in the interactive way in which this project hopes to engage children through smart and shiny panels. Giving the details club president S Rameshbabu said, “In India, according to government sources, 150 million children are out of schools, but even more worrisome is the fact that nearly one third of the enrolled children drop out before completing elementary school. We imagined an India where every child gets to go to school and remain there to complete education; an India where school going becomes an inviting, interesting and rewarding experience, so that children look forward to going to school to see how best imagination gets transformed into reality.”
150Rotary study centres to be put up by RID 3000, to give info on government exams
The title of the project, conceptualised by past president Neelakantan Loganathan, was a play on the traditional Indian term for a place of learning ‘Gurukul’. The focus area of the project launched by the 100-plus- member-club was literacy and basic education. “Our club has shown good growth and minimum attrition. We have diversity and our member engagement programmes are curated to include equity and diversity. We’ve given generous contributions to TRF, and done numerous socially relevant projects through several GGs for vision care, neo natal ventilator and a breast milk bank for babies, a cleft palate project for babies in Mauritius, palliative care for elderly at Malaysia, fight against Covid, and dialysis systems.”
Gurukool’s main aim was to harness technology to make the delivery of education more interesting and effective, and it encompasses putting up smart classroom in schools where students come mostly from economically backward classes, with many of them being first generation learners. Conceived to better the quality and delivery of education, this project will also aid dyslexia identification and remediation. Club secretary Radha Krish said the equipment will have interactive panels, 65-inch screens in every classroom along with self-contained programmes and applications to simulate real life situations to deepen understanding.
Gurukool’s first phase will give 75 smart classrooms with interactive panels in three schools; cost ₹1.25 crore
“In the first phase, we have targeted 75 classrooms in three schools. The project estimate is ₹1.25 crore or $125,000. With every passing year, new beneficiaries will gain from it. We intend making this a GG project to supplement our contribution by participation from Rotary clubs in Japan, Malaysia and Mauritius, along with CSR funds from an Indian corporate,” she said, adding that thousands of children will be helped and those who have never been to school will be skilled and empowered to imagine a better world.
Rotary Study Centres by RID 3000
Introducing the flagship programmes of District 3000, DG I Jerald said these included Rotary study centres, setting up Miyawaki forests, restoring ponds and water bodies. “We have 135 clubs and they are involved in these three areas; we aim to plant 2 lakh saplings and restore ponds over 200 acres.”
To enable people from small towns get good government jobs, “I have requested each club to create one Rotary study centre, the main objective of which is to give talented people in the local community information and knowledge about government competitive examinations. We have intelligent people in smaller towns but they lack information and resources to prepare properly for the examinations, cracking which remains a dream for them,” he said.
2,000 students to benefit from RC Chennai Presidency’s e-learning facilities in 45 schools
So he has requested all the clubs to identify a village and set up a centre, with proper infrastructure which will cost around $4,000 (₹3.2 lakh). Some clubs had come forward to set up 2 or 3 such centres. “Our aim is to create 150 such centres, which will have a centralised administration and disseminate regular information about forthcoming exams, how to prepare for them and emerge successful. The principle is… instead of giving fish, train them to fish. It is not a big value, but a big impact project, that will go a long way in helping local people get into good government positions. This is an ideal project to create and improve the public image of Rotary. It is a long-term, sustainable district project. Today 20 clubs are ready with the centres, which RI President Jones is inaugurating.”
Jerald later told Rotary News that the clubs have three options; construct their own building for this centre, which costs around ₹15 lakh; five clubs have already done this. The other options are to lease either government or private buildings for a 10-year period.”
Schools and Smiles: RC Madras
Giving details of the Schools and Smiles project initiated in 2004 for the restoration of 100 schools, some of which had been inaugurated by past RI presidents including Wilf Wilkinson, PDG Benjamin Cherian said under this GG project done by RC Madras, e-learning facilities given to “each one of these schools have motivated the children to attend schools as classes get more interesting with e- learning content. Attendance has grown threefold, and we at RCM plan to continue this literacy project for many years.” Four more restored schools were inaugurated that evening by President Jones.
E-learning in 45 schools: RC Chennai Presidency
President Jones next launched a $55,000 GG project of RC Chennai Presidency, to set up e-learning facilities in 45 schools in and around Chennai. Every year 2,000 students benefit from the project which has been done with CSR funds from tech major CTS.
Pictures by Rasheeda Bhagat