Global grant project transforms schools

Komal, Poonam, Sheetal are all common names of ­school-going girls in the deep rural area schools around Pune. Komal, the ­loving ­daughter of a farm hand, till some time back, had little hope of making it to the secondary school examinations in any good shape. Her ­moderate family resources prevented her from getting modern ­educational aids to help her. Also, the school she goes to belongs to a zilla parishad, which has ­modest facilities. Of course her school teacher is a very ­dedicated ­person. But he has to teach ­multiple classes and finds it difficult to impart quality education to the students in ­different grades. The school lacked ­laboratory, library facilities and sports equipment.

RCPS IPP Pradeep Wagh (fourth from left) presenting the project report to PDG Suraj ­Bhatia. Also present (from L) RCJC Secretary Stephen Stamos, Michelle Ricot-Nandakumar, ­President Jennifer Aitken, Netra Wagh, Lisa Boehm and Thomas Chu.
RCPS IPP Pradeep Wagh (fourth from left) presenting the project report to PDG Suraj ­Bhatia. Also present (from L) RCJC Secretary Stephen Stamos, Michelle Ricot-Nandakumar, ­President Jennifer Aitken, Netra Wagh, Lisa Boehm and Thomas Chu.

This is where RC ­Jersey City (RCJC), US, D 7490, came to the ­rescue of Komal and ­several ­hundred school-going children like her. RCJC ­partnered with RC Pune ­Shivajinagar (RCPS), D 3131, to do an ­international ­project for its centennial year (2016–17).

A global grant ­programme was ­chosen as a vehicle for this ­purpose. Named the Rotary Distance ­Education Programme (RDEP) this project has three main components:

Computer-aided ­education units for over 20 rural schools with ­pre-loaded software of school ­syllabus as a teaching aid to such schools.

Comprehensive ­infrastructure ­development of select schools.

Teacher training under a Teacher ­Quality Improvement ­Programme (TQIP) for over 200 rural teachers.

“Global grants are an effective tool of Rotary for ­promoting ­development in ­under-developed areas of society as also for ­international ­understanding through partnership of two clubs,” said Dr Pradeep Wagh, IPP of RCPS, ­speaking at the kick-off of the Rotary Foundation Month at RC Jersey City. He was speaking on the occasion of successful completion of the project in 2016–17.

Komal and Sheetal perform a science experiment.
Komal and Sheetal perform a science experiment.

Global grants are an effective tool to leverage the resources available with a club for a higher value. This project, for instance, had ­contributions of RCJC, RCPS as also others from D 3131,
D 7490 and The Rotary ­Foundation.

President Jennifer Aitken from RCJC traced the progress of the ­project from the time PDG Adele Miller ­initiated it. Several Rotarians from both the host and partner clubs followed up with ­guidance from past DRFC Mohan ­Palesha, D 3131.

The RDEPs improved the understanding of math and science for rural students with graphics, audio-visual presentation and animation being used in the class.

While the ­infrastructure ­development (the ­second component) provided facilities like a ­well-stocked library, sports equipment and other requirements, the TQIP equipped the rural teachers with innovative strategies, intelligence and skill sets required for classroom teaching.

It was a matter of pride that Komal, one of the beneficiary students, scored 97 per cent in the Class 12 public exam in 2016–17. Her friends Poonam, Sheetal and hundreds of other ­students who benefitted from this global grant project had passed out with flying colours.

“We are thankful to Rotary for empowering the rural students by ­giving us e-learning and other ­equipment,” said Rajaram Mhaske, Principal, ­Kasurdi ZP School in Daund taluk, Pune.

The crowning moment for this project was when it won the ­district’s Best Literacy Teacher Training Award under a global grant. In order to make the project easily ­replicable, a video ­documentation of the teacher training was done which can be viewed at: https://sites.google.com/site/rcpstqip/

PDG Raj Bhatia of D 7490 has played ­mentor for this project.

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