RC Delhi Imperial rejuvenates schools in Delhi NCR, Gurugram

Students and teachers at the Goverment Girls Primary School, Kherla, Gurugram.

This is a club that has specialised in bringing to life and modernising government schools. In the last few years RC Delhi Imperial, RID 3012, has done three global grant projects to rejuvenate government schools in and around villages in the Gurugram and the Delhi NCR area.

From building the boundary walls, setting up libraries and computer labs, to building group handwash stations, providing clean toilets with running water, making available drinking water, storage tanks, solar panels, projectors, printers and providing reusable sanitary pads to adolescent girl students for their menstrual hygiene management, the club has done it all.

Through its latest global grant project totalling $192,000, the club has spruced up, renovated and rejuvenated a whopping 19 schools in Gurugram.

Students hold up the reusable sanitary pad packets provided to them by the club.

Past president of the club Ram Chand, a core member of the schools renovation project, gives the main credit for the successful completion of this project to “our charter president and owner of Pathways Schools Praveen Jain. He and his team helped in identifying the government schools which needed support, oversaw the execution of all the components of the project and continues to ensure maintenance of the project components as required. We all know that it is easier to provide facilities and equipment, but very difficult to sustain and maintain what has been given, but he ensured that the schools continue to function smoothly.”

Total GG
World Fund
DDF contribution
Cash contribution
Endowed/Directed gift contribution $30,001

Giving an example, he says that in the renovated schools, furniture was given and computer rooms set up with laptops. “Now the furniture doesn’t require maintenance, but laptops do. It is here that the Pathways team helps; on a monthly and even weekly basis, they assist us by servicing the laptops, updating software and sorting out glitches, if any, apart from the physical cleaning of the laptops.” This ensured sustainability of the computer rooms.

Even for the maintenance of the water filters and water coolers, the Pathways team is helping. “But the major challenge we face is in the toilet maintenance. To begin with we have given them handwash and cleaning material for the toilets. But how do you ensure continued maintenance and, more important, cleanliness and hygiene?” So here the school maintenance committees (SMCs), which include parents, were involved. It is their responsibility to see that the washrooms are kept clean and hygiene levels maintained,” he adds.

Members of RC Delhi Imperial, along with their spouses, with PDGs Alok Gupta, Deepak Gupta and Lalit Khanna at the Pathways School.

In its latest global grant project titled Umang, with international partners from RIDs 4563 and 4621 to develop 19 schools in the villages of ­Gurugram and Delhi (NCR) the club really faced many challenges. The earlier two grants were for a lesser number of schools. “For this big project, we raised the money in Dec 2019 by getting commitment from our club members. From Jan 2020, concerns about Covid surfaced and around April/May, we had to make a choice — either continue our efforts to raise the money required or abort the project altogether. Fortunately, there was a lot of support from the then DG Deepak Gupta and we decided to go ahead,” says Ram Chand.

PDG Alok Gupta and Deepak Gupta inaugurate a solar plant installed at the Government Higher Secondary School, Teekli, Gurugram, in 2021.

As the lockdowns came and went, without getting disheartened, the team collected the required funds and applied for a GG. But then, he adds “it was a time when the TRF itself was facing a huge challenge in terms of the demands made on the Foundation to support Covid-related projects.”

But the GG came through and around December 2020, the project team got cracking on the things to be done such as organising the school furniture, computers and other educational material and the physical infrastructure such as compound wall, renovation of the building etc.

One of the major things that needed to be put in place was creating solar power to ensure that the computers, printers, water motor, etc had adequate electricity. With two district governors supporting the project — first Deepak Gupta and then Alok Gupta, “we managed to inaugurate the project before the second wave of Covid, the Delta wave, hit,” recalls Ram Chand.

PDG Ganesh Bhat interacting with students.

Once again, the schools closed and they couldn’t do much till September 2021, and as slowly things returned to normal and the Covid threat receded, the rest of the pending work was completed.

Outlining the manner in which the project unfolded, and highlighting one of its most important components, past president Akhil Bansal said the schools chosen “were really bad and in a totally dilapidated state. There was no drinking water, no electricity; the ­government had given generators but who will fund the diesel cost? The schools have no funds. Initially we gave drinking water coolers, but they were useless without electricity, and the purpose was again defeated, hence we thought of going in for solar panels.”

Another major problem was the pathetic condition of the toilets, which had no water, and hence adolescent girls were missing classes during their menstrual cycle. To tackle this problem, and to address the menstrual hygiene management (MHM) issue, the Rotarians partnered with the NGO Baala, which conducted workshops on MHM for the girls and distributed reusuable sanitary napkins in the schools.

From L: Sanjeev Jain, Akhil Bansal, Ram Chand, PDG Ganesh Bhat, Praveen Jain, Vidya Bhat, Manoj Gupta and Divya Chand watch children use a handwash station.

Adds Bansal, “Some of these government schools are run on a strange governance principle; they get funding from the government for the capex, but are given no money for maintenance. But the one good thing they have are school management committees (SMCs) comprising the school management, teachers and parents, and we are involving them to ensure proper maintenance of the facilities we have created.”

TRF cadre and PDG Ganesh Bhat, who was given the responsibility of examining the execution of this GG, said, after visiting the rejuvenated schools in mid-August, that the “work done under this project has really changed the entire scenario for the children and the teachers. I had a dialogue with all the stakeholders — the children, teachers, parents and school principals. A few girl students at the Government Girls Primary School in Kherla said after getting clean toilets with water, they no longer had to miss their classes for MHM reasons.”

A session on menstrual hygiene at the Government Senior School, Bhandwari.

He also found that there had been a dramatic improvement in the children’s health as they were now regularly washing their hands with soap and water before their midday meals and are now not falling ill frequently due to water-borne diseases. “The teachers told me that using tables and sitting on benches, instead of the floor, the children now have a sense of dignity and their confidence level has gone up, even as the dropout rate has come down. Their academic performance has improved too and their average marks have gone up from of 65 to 85 per cent, and the attendance has gone up from 65 to 90 per cent.”

A heartwarming comment from one teacher was that thanks to the presence of laptops and Internet, along with a projector, the children were able to see the proud moment when Chandrayaan-3 landed successfully on the moon.

Bhat suggested that Interact clubs should be started in all the renovated schools, a close eye be kept on the maintenance aspect, and added that through this “transformational project, nearly 6,000 children and 100 school staff have benefitted.”

Ram Chand put on record the “contribution of the key members of the core team who conceived, mentored, shepherded and worked tirelessly to complete this ambitious project.” They include Dushyant Arya, the club president in 2019–20, under whose leadership funds were raised; Manoj Gupta, the president in both 2020–21 and 21–22 when the project was executed; Vishal Jyoti who worked on the global grant approval, and past president Ashwani Gupta who ensured that quality equipment was purchased at the lowest prices. “Of course the main force behind the project is our past president Praveen Jain of Pathways School and his team; they are the main reason for its success and the happiness it has created for the students, parents and of course, the teachers and the principals. Most important, thanks to him, the maintenance of these renovated schools is going on smoothly,” he adds.

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