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Adharshila Learning Centre is a unique school for adivasi children in Madhya Pradesh that views education as a tool for liberation...and a place of fun.

The Adharshila Learning Centre was started in 1998 by the Veer Khajiya Naik Manav Vikas Pratishthan.

The children have an active role in running the school.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Diversity in Adharshila

The year 2010 is the International Biodiversity Year and there are many types of insects in Adharshila.
In the school farm's fence there were two spider webs on Walpapdi creeper as shown in photos. The colour of spider was green with black spots on its back. It was not ever seen in the school.

Monday, November 29, 2010

One Month's firewood from our Campus

A small step towards self sufficiency but very encouraging for us.
We have been thinking and working slowly at making the Adharshila Learning Centre's hostel for 100 kids

Friday, November 5, 2010

Exotic Insects

Anil brought a green insect. It's wings looked exactly like a leaf. Everybody collected to see it.Most children thought that it must have been made from a leaf. This is general belief that many insects and worms are made from leaves or dung or mud.
Another insect looked like a stick. Yet another like a dried leaf. And what is this silver-golden object hanging from a branch. Vow! After four days a butterfly came out of it and the object now looks like an empty polythene bag.
Adaptation at it's best.Take a look at these beautiful creations of nature.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Ex Student is District Chess Champion

Kamal Dudwe, a tribal, of Panjariya village, became the Barwani District Chess Champion. He has been selected along with two others to represent the district in the next level.

Why is he on our blog ?
Because he is our ex student. He is from the first batch and has stuck to Adharshila. Even though he is in college he stays at the Adharshila campus and helps in running it. He has been specifically looking after the tree plot which we are developing to become self sufficient in energy. He has topped in the third semester in college.

congrats Kamal.
We are looking for someone to coach him before the next level.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Sharing the Year 2009-2010

It is always a pleasure to share what happened at Adharshila with friends. So here it is. sorry it is only in English right now.

Adharshila Learning Centre
2009 - 2010
Annual Report

run by
Jayashree, Amit, Badribhai, Devika behen, Shobharam Sir, Majali, Shewanta, Shanta – the regulars
Kamal, Suresh, Prakash, Jamuna, Dharmalata, Imla, Rakesh, Patidaar, Mahesh, Krishna – senior students
The Octopus and Nile group children
Manasi, Preeyanka, Roshan, Amit, - the volunteers

Veer Khajiya Naik Manav Vikas Pratishthan

Dear friends
Thanks to your support and the hardwork put in by the children and team, Adharshila completed it’s twelfth year.

The world of school education has been set on the path of far reaching changes.

On the one hand there is increasing awareness about the shortcomings of the existing school system amongst the middle and elite class. This has led to more and more people searching for alternatives within and outside the school system.

The Govt. on its part is trying to change the statistics of literacy and school going children and has brought in the Free and Compulsory Education Act. It is also trying to shed off its own responsibilty to give good education to these children and wants to put it in the lap of private sector and NGOs. It is trying to do more of the same without recognizing that this school system has failed us. We need to think more creatively than this.

The most dangerous thing is happening, as usual, in the villages where a whole generation is being misled by the false promise of prosperity that schooling will bring. It is well known that only 2% children, of those enrolled in the 1st, pass the 12th class. The schools are creating an army of youngsters who want quick money. If we look at this fact in conjunction with the trend of farm land getting converted to real estate, and being bought by city people, forced schooling almost looks like a designed strategy for land grab.

Cynicists! You will say. Always looking at the negative side. Well reality is grim. It may not look so from where we sit, comfortable.

We strongly think the discussion on education should go beyond schools, rules, shams and acts. It is a time to revisit the basics of education – the meaning of the word, the aims, the ideals. Also the link of education with creating opportunities for not just livelihoods but living honest and dignified lives. And lastly to create citizens for an India, a society, a nation envisaged in the constitution - …. Democratic, Secular, Equal, Just, Socialist ( removed from the Preamble without any public debate)…

Adharshila is an attempt to understand the nitty gritty of edcuation, from the child to the curriculum, the ideals and issues and search for alternative ways of learning – theatre, singing, walks, schools with class and classless schools.
We don’t contend to have got the magic wand. But the effort has been honest and. We have some learnings. Others can use them too if they are interested, but we don’t insist…

Happy reading.
Amit and Jayashree
For The Adharshila Team

The monsoon triggeres it. Hope and enthusiasm. Absolutely no scope for depression and negative thoughts. Yes this is the beginning. Remember life began with water. The rain greens the brownest patch. We are convinced, rain induces chemical changes in the brain – the smell, temperature, humidity – everything, triggers the adrenaline, which gives the mood and energy needed to engage in hard physical labor for an activity as risky as rain fed agriculture.
About 85 parents, read fathers, turned up seeking new admission for their wards, mostly sons. Many others came later. School is after the farm. We had a record 80 names in the waiting list and the yearly itch to start a new school, but no takers.

My brother’s family is coming here en-route Leh from Kanyakumari. We can’t let them see this mess. So cleaning, cleaning, cleaning, new bed sheets, groceries and at the eleventh hour we welcome them in clean clothes as if nothing happened. And already there is Roshan, the volunteer from US, actually Dubai, Maraike from Germany and Vipin from Bangalore to spend some time teaching adivasi kids before going for his Masters at Princeton – an impressive guest list. Raju, an Oriya MSW, whose enthu for digging (rings around trees to catch water) is infectious. I am cured of the infection in three days.

The monsoon was on time, and as soon as the children came they got engrossed in planting vegetables, trees and pulses. They also started making their own vegetable plots where ever they found place. They are divided in groups according to their learning levels – Beej, Yamuna, Kaveri, Brahmputra, Fifth, Amazon, Nile – combined, Octopus – eighth and the elders giving 10th from Open School. In all we are 110 staying here now, including the teachers. And the works start with songs, games and flower beds. The rush of photocopying primers prepared at Adharshila in the local language – Bareli; cleaning of rooms, vegetable plots for groups, lots of planning and changing plans everyday, confusions, tempers, bringing order to the Mess, complicated time tables of hundreds of things ranging from classes, student teachers, and duties to cook, look after the five animals, cleaning, making porridge on the Uganda Choolah – latest addition to the kitchen – thanks to Roshan’s research, Shakeel bhai’s luhari and Jayahree’s motivation and of course the 8th -10th children. It was efficient as it used only half the wood.
The savings were used to get milk for the mess. This lasted for about six months. The savings stopped but the milk continued.

Finally we are settled. Oh! More visitors from US. Hey is it the recession ? Maybe there is something to it. A team of NRI students comes to stay with us for four days. They were brought by an organisation called INSPIRE. We pushed them into making English lessons based on local topics with the help of children. One group even made a slide show of the lesson. Pascale, a French sculptress stayed with us for a week and made a bust of the legendary adivasi fighter – Tantiya Bheel. Two volunteers from Pravah, Sameer and Rakesh stayed for a month and took drawing classes. They also left their mark on the walls of Adharshila. Karishma and Shraddha, also NRIs, wandering in India seeing alternative education experiments stayed for a week and developed an English story with the children. The principal and staff of a local school and friends from Sendhawa too came to look us up. An old friend Bhupendrabhai brought a group of dedicated people running a school for adivasi children, in South Gujarat.

Besides chatting with so many different types of people and learning about their countries, concerns and professions the children prepared songs, plays and skits for the Independence Day function where the village Dai – Lohangya Bai, who has delivered two generations of Sakad village was called to hoist the flag to emphasize the importance of traditional knowledge. Ironically this year her daughter in law went to the hospital with the Asha worker, who has no experience of deliveries, just so that she could get the money given as incentive to go to hospitals for deliveries. ( preparing for privatization of health). We also celebrate 15th August as the tree planting day. The parents plant at least 5 trees on the campus. Actually for the whole of the first two months tree planting and water conservation around trees is a major activity, besides farming. This year Kamal, one of the senior most students took charge of the tree plot – anjanwada. He looked after the tree plot which has about 200 trees, very diligently.

We also helped the Jagrut Adivasi Dalit Sangathan to start a new school, Azaadi Shikshan Kendra, in a very remote village in the Pati block of our district. For us this was very inspiring as this is something we have been wanting to do more. Majali and Neela, teachers from Adharshila stayed there for a week to help them set up. Later two boys went to help them with the preparation of their inaugural function. We did a one day teacher training for the Primary teachers of Kasturba Girls School, Newali in our tehsil. This is a very old Gandhian centre. We were honored by the visit of its dedicated leader –Pushpa Behen. We also conducted a teacher training workshop for the Rani Kajal Shikshan Kendra in Kakrana, Alirajpur district. The children conducted a Baal Mela for the kids. This was done twice in the year.

Interesting projects that went on for the full year was participating in a research project. Alf, a researcher from Norway is writing a book on the Khedut Mazdoor Chetana Sangath, for his post doctoral research. This is the same KMCS where we were working before setting up home in Sakad. We convinced him to involve the senior students in the research project and in the process teach them the research methodology. In the end Alf became a very good friend and Majali, Shewanta, Suresh and Prakash did most of the 40 -50 interviews and Alf was very impressed with the quality of questions and the interviews. He also agreed to help in printing small booklets based on the interviews. We even intend to make small films from the interview recordings. He also entertained us by playing the guitar. The children and people in Sendhawa stared endlessly at his long, golden tresses.

The first term ended in September with the Bhutta Khane Ki Chutti – a unique feature of Adharshila. This is a special vacation for the children to go home and enjoy the fruits of the farm – corn, beans, etc.

As the term was ending we welcomed two volunteers from Indicor who helped us over the year in teaching English and Math to senior classes. One of them Mansi is still with us where as Preeyanki left towards the end of the year.

Another volunteer, Apeksha, from Pravah was with us for three months and helped in documenting the science projects of the primary groups.

After many years finally a team from Eklavya came to Adharshila to do science experiments with the children. They more than compensated for all the years of absence by conducting four workshops. Actually they were also testing their modules. On the side we used to get delicious Indori Chiwada. The children really liked these workshops as they got to see and handle scientific instruments and material for the first time.

There were many other workshops conducted for the children this year. Nishi from Mumbai conducted a personality development workshop through theatre, Mukesh and Rizwana, Docufilm makers from Indore conducted a theatre workshop and made a play on Tantiya Mama, a Media workshop by Roshan, and a film making workshop by Kavita from Drishti, Ahmedabad. Sant from CEHAT, Barwani, an organisation working for health rights, conducted a two day workshop on primary health and health issues. He told the students about various health schemes of the Govt. There was an in-house art workshop for smaller children. Piyush from Srishti Art School, Bangalore, worked with children for a week to create illustrations for a Bareli alphabet song. Anna, Jayashree’s father trained children to make Aakaashkandils as part of the Diwali celebrations.

The greatest thing is that these were conducted voluntarily by these friends. This is a big thing for us because it is an example that if we work outside the project and market mode we do get very good people to help us. Life and good things are possible without money. Vow!
Many interesting class projects were done, based on diverse themes – rivers, trees, insects, bio diversity, health, body and immunity, HIV, animals, cities, Independence movement, book making, comparison of local dialects. An energy project was done to figure out the energy needs of Adharshila, ways of reducing it and figuring out ways of creating energy in-house.
This year we were part of an Indo – German children’s learning project, thanks to Katha and the Tara Trust, Goa, of which she is a part. The children of the German school sent drawings depicting their lives, interests and what they had learnt about India. Through these drawing our children of Kaveri and Brahmaputra groups learnt about them. They responded by sending drawings depicting their lives and interests. The children also wrote pen friend letters to school children in Chicago, US and Manthan School, Jhiri, Rajasthan.

The Amazon and Nile group children made illustrated books of stories written by them.
The youngsters of Adharshila, headed by Majali, conducted Baal Melas in about nine schools engaging about 1200 children in interesting games, songs, science experiments and creative activities. Two of these Baal Melas were held in schools in Sendhawa town.
Our theatre team, The Naatak India Company performed in front of a ten thousand strong crowd at the Adivasi Ekta Parishad Sammelan near Dhule, Maharashtra. They were invited especially to perform a play depicting the dilemmas of Adivasis in the modern society. We have shown this play to about 80,000 people in the last 10 years. The theatre Company also performed a play showing the plight of women and girl child, in Sakad on 8th March – Mahila Diwas. The women’s play was also shown at an anti dowry meeting, called by the Jagrut Adivasi Dalit Sangathan.

Three senior volunteered to help in organizing the library of the Adivasi Mukti Sangathan. Five teachers and students participated in two rounds of the Activist School held by SRUTI. About 20 students participated in this when it was held at our place. We attended SRUTI’s 25th year celebration function.

Three girls went to the Arch Vahini hospital in Gujarat to learn the treatment of scabies. Two boys went to another NGO in Gujarat to get a basic knowledge of electrical circuits, solar lamps, windmills and LED’s.
Amit was invited to take part in the Indicor Orientation Workshop, the Board meeting of Youth for Leadership program, as a guest, the celebration of 25 years of SRUTI and a youth workshop in Ranchi organised by Sangharsh Vahini.

Hey just now, while writing this report, I got news that one of our ex students Geeta has topped in 12th in the Chatli High School with, 84%. – Maji lal another ex has scored more than 80% in the District Excellence School, in the 12th class. This is good. Very Good in fact. In the same school Vijay also got more than 80% in the 10th( there are some who got supplimentary and one or two even flunked). We hope there will be a time when at least some adivasis will get into competitions on merit and not reservation alone.

So what are these ex students doing actually ? The ones who have passed the 12th grade. Well we are trying to list batch wise. It seems there are all sorts – at least five got married and even have kids. Some are toppers. one is with us managing the primary section of Adharshila. At least two are in professional colleges. One is preparing for the PCS and ICS exam. One is keen to work with youth. Let’s see. The rewards of being a teacher. Dealing with these older kids was one of the big challenges this year, when they begin to be non communicative with us. We, in-spite of realizing everything couldn’t break the jam. Due to the fact that they have been staying with us since they were kids, one type of relationship has developed. Now they are young adults and we need a different equation which we couldn’t work out. Lets see next year maybe.
While we are talking of results - Nine Children passed the fifth exam with good grades. They were enrolled in a Govt. Primary School in a nearby village and went to give the exam there.
Eight children passed the 8th exam mostly getting first division. Three managed to get more than 75%. They gave the exams from a private school.

Five passed the 10th exam from the open school, two of them in the first division.
Three boys gave college exams – first semester and third semester.
One girl is studying for the 12th exam through open school and five are studying for the 10th exam through open school.

The Organic Farm produced about 12 quintals of vegetables and pulses thanks to the tireless efforts of Dewika Behen, Jayashree, Badri bhai and almost all children who participated in all activities starting from ploughing to cooking. The soil is becoming better with more and more mulch being heaped in it. This a major task bringing dry leaves from the forest, road side or wherever.

The cow produced a she calf. Thanks to her the children got more than 700 liters of milk.
And one more thing - the music teacher and the dance teacher. Every Sunday they came here from Sendhawa to teach the children. Thanks to our music loving friends who raised the money so that children could learn classical music and dance. About ten children gave the music and dance exam from Prayag Sangeet Samiti.

During the year we also constructed a biggish covered verandah next to the hall, a cowshed and raised the roof of the girl’s room.

As usual the year ended with the Annual function and exhibition. The function went on for about 4 hrs. almost all the school children participated on stage. The exhibition had more than 100 exhibits in the form of charts and models depicting everything that they had learnt during the year. They explain to all visitors in the local language as most of the visitors are illiterate ( inspite of all the statistics of literacy and adult literacy and enrollment).

Like last years the children made greeting cards to raise money for their educatonal tour. Anita and Preeyanka helped in making and selling them. And they went to see the Ellora caves. The smaller children went to various places in the district.

Children’s Evaluation which lasts for a month where they have to revisit everything that they have learnt over the year. The 6th -7th graders prepare files of the work they have done listing books read, their own writings –essays, stories, poems etc, drawings or whatever they want to show. This not marked or graded. They also have to write essays on social topics and also topics related to science. Quizzes, math tests. They have their hands full. The problem for them is that even after doing so much they don’t get a regular report card with marks which they can show off to friends. That’s why most of them want to go to regular schools.

And in the middle of all this we had to do the Tantiya Mama Kabaddi competition. This year 8 teams participated and everybody had fun. It was hosted by the Sakad Panchayat.
In the rush we also got printed a booklet on the life and struggle of Tantiya Bhil, with the help of Madhulika who helped in the layout and Suvidha who did the illustrations. We were very keen to release the book in the Kabaddi competition. Without the help of Ashok Bhai and friends at Roopankan, Indore, it wouldn’t have reached us on time. We printed another bookletHum Kaun Hain, to initiate discussion about adivasi identity, amongst tribal elites. The Aadivasi Riti Bachao Toli published this for us.

After all the children had left, the teachers had to stay back to review the year’s work.
Jayashree stayed back to enjoy the peace of the place after every body had left. Due to her encouragement the children of the Sakad village took over Adharshila during the summer vacation. They are still around. They came everyday, watered the plants in the nursery. This is a very important part to make Adharshila self sufficient as far as fuel wood is concerned. There are close to 1000 saplings to be planted next year in our campus and to be given to children of Sakad village who looked after it. They also looked after the animals and played and sang the day out. The teachers took turns to look after the place in the summers.

We have sown and are waiting for the rains. We are waiting for the next lot of children and maybe some volunteers too. We are waiting for a mason, an electrician and ironsmith.

Thanks to…
We want to especially thank Manasi, Preeyanka, Roshan, Apeksha, Rakesh and Sameer who volunteered at Adharshila this year and the organizations – INDICOR, Ahmedabad and PRAVAH, Delhi who facilitated these volunteers. And EKLAVYA for doing the science workshops.

We also thank the parents from Rojani Maal village who donated two truck loads of dry wood which saved a lot of money for us, Eklavya who gave a set of scientific instruments and Mr. Shah from Mumbai, who gave two boxes of stationery. Daava, who donated a laptop ( as penalty for not keeping the promise of volunteering).
In the end we have to thank all the Friends of Adharshila for having faith in us and our work and for keeping the spirit of charity alive. Due to this we ran one more year without a grant though we would like many more to join in for the new schools. – Medha Mathur, Vandana Kumar, Mrs. Bagchi, Ms. Pushpa Nagpal, Karina Michelles, the INSPIRE group, Ravindra, Ramesh Bhai, Vidya, Rohini from Kolkata, Narsingh and Rashmi Narayan from Hyderabad for the music classes, Vibhash Sureka, Indore, Uma Sudhir and friends from Eklavya Indore, Rosalin Mulji, Rosy Martin, Pratibimb, Bangalore, Katharina Poggendorf Kakkar, Nikita, Dr. Sneh Raj, Ms. Chitra Kumar, Ms. Madhulika Aggarwal, Ravindra Shroff, Magan Bhai, Umesh Atree.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Art Shivir 2010

A friend from Mumbai recently sent us some stationery and art supplies. We held an art shivir here in Sakad to celebrate. We are planning a series of Art Melas and shivirs in various villages and nearby schools to give more children a chance to explore their artistic side. See the pictures from the Adharshila Art Shivir here.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Antar-rashtriya Mahila Diwas (International Women's Day) 2010

This year we decided to share International Women's Day through a play by our very own Naatak India Company.

Since we were just returning from Bhangoria break, preparations and rehearsals went until a few hours before showtime. The costumes were collected from villagers and props from the junk collection of Adharshila. Since the play was to be staged at night in Sakad, a publicity team, armed with a battery operated megaphone and facts about Women's Day, went round the village to inform everyone about where to gather. The electricity, our old friend, acted up soon before showtime. At the last minute villagers volunteered with creative outdoor wiring at Rajarambhai's farm, where the play was being staged, ensured some halogen lighting for the stage. About 250 people attended, including Gendrambhai, Mahila Sarpanch of Sakad, Gitabai, the new Mahila Upsarpanch of Kunjari village and and Remlibai, Mahila Sarpanch of Chatli. The play dealt with treating boys and girls equally and local issues of dowry and alcoholism through acting and song. The Adharshila Band organized music and sound. The first part starred girls only, and the second, boys only, with both playing costumed roles of both genders. Though this was unplanned, we all felt it embraced the spirit of Women's Day in the village-when both sexes are able to see the other's point of view, it brings them closer to resolving the issues between them. We saw many laughed and listened intently last night, but the proof was the conversations the women of Sakad had with us the next morning. Savitri Bai said that our lives will surely change if people are shown such plays regularly.
One of the main themes of Adharshila is to initiate and motivate children to take their knowledge and new progressive ideas to the villagers. Though the children have been doing Baal Melas in villages where they engage children in creative activities and science experiments, this was a first of this type of intervention.
Gajanand Bhai, a newly elected Janpad Panchayat member told the gathering that the newly elected panchayat bodies of Kunjari and Chatli villages have passed a resolution to close the illegal liquor shops in their villages, under the leadership of women Sarpanchs.

See the photos here

Sunday, February 28, 2010

It's Holi, I Mean Bhangoriya

The Pre Holi happenings

Everybody means that the school children had already gone home for the festival. We had to give a long leave as some children had started running home. Well what's wrong with letting children go home for festivals ? We claim to have an educational programme based on the local cultural context. Well nothing, just that they wont come back for another 15 days. A bit too much if you are keen to do schooling too. But we are an alternative school, we said ? Yes but then people insisted on their children taking the board exams. And they crib if the kid doesnt learn English or Hindi or Math. So. So they will stayback when they have board exams. Thats what they are doing. The 8th class and 5th class were here and are still here. Jayashree has taken them to see Bhangoriya as they have a two day gap before the next exam.

Bhangoriya is part of a series of events that make up Holi, a major festival of the Bhil, Bhilala, Barela, Pawara, Naik, Dhanak and other tribes of western India. Haat is basically a market. Each market town has a fixed day on which the market ' fills'. That day is called by the name of the place where the market 'fills' on that day. For eg. Sendhawa'n dahda(day) is Sunday as the market fills in Sendhawa on Sundays. "Haata Karne', in the local language means exchanging. It could have originated from the system of barter. So Haat becomes the place where everybody brings there ware to barter on a fixed day.

Two weeks before Holi is Teevariya Haat where people come to shop for the festival. Clothes for the family, jaggery, eats and lots of titbits. The next week is Bhagoriya. This is like a crowd of people moving on the main market road like a river. As the day progresses most of this river is drunk. Its a mela. Each day in a different market place for one week. Then Holi. The sarkaari Holi - the official one. One day after the sarkaari Holi is the Holi in the village where Holi is burnt at night near the village head's house and the whole village collects there. Each household contributes a log of wood for this huge fire. These days they make do with cowdung cakes. People bring the huge drum and flutes and dance in streets. Groups of young boys in and groups of young girls roam around. Laughing and giggling and teasing each other.

After Holi for the next five days is Gaanda Dahda. The five crazy days. Gangs of children and people put stones, rocks, logs on the roads and stop everyone and anyone and ask for money. You can't go ahead without giving some thing. Some people in villages become boodlas. A group of people dressed in different costumes. Each group has some specific charactors like raavi, kali, etc. Some men are dressed like women. They dance and go around in villages asking for grain or money from all the houses in the villages. Even in towns. These are official. There is a religious angle to this too. At the end of the five days of collection they come back to the village and cook and eat together with the whole village which is called goot.

And I forgot the Melas in villages. Every four five km. there is a mela somewhere. So basically its Holi days till the 7th of Feb.

If I was'nt clear, this is great fun time for the people here. Everything else just stops. Hey, there is'nt anything else. Is there ?

Holi marks the end of the festival season. After this is work. Start preparing the fields. The big drum is kept away and will be taken out next year on the village Diwali day. Really a befitting end to the agriculture season.

An aside. Some arithmatic. Each family spends on an average Two Thousand Rupees. If we take an average of 100 houses to a village it becomes Two lakh per village. Who says tribals are not contributing to the GDP !

Sunday, January 17, 2010

What We Did in 2008 -2009 - Annual Report

If you are interested in knowing what keeps us busy at Adharshila all year round.

Dear friend,

We are happy to send you Adharshila’s Annual Report for the academic year 2008 -09. We take this opportunity to thank you for the support you have extended to Adharshila. Due to your invaluable support for the last eleven years, hundreds of adivasi children of Barwani, Jhabua and Burhanpur districts of western Madhya Pradesh have been able to get an education which they could never have dreamt of.
This year has been an year of terror and shock inflicted upon humanity. The terror emanated from fundamentalist ideologies - religious and economic.
This has convinced us more about our project of promoting values like humanism, secularism, selflessness, equality, strengthening of community life etc. through education. It has firmed our resolve to take the work of Adharshila forward towards creating a more just, equal and humanitarian society as opposed to a society of atomized individuals motivated by consumption and greed.
We feel there is an urgency to spread these ideas amongst children and youth – who are going to be tomorrow’s leaders.

Once again thank you for taking part in this process of change and looking forward to your continued support and inspiration.

Warm regards
Amit and Jayashree
The Adharshila Team

ANNUAL REPORT 2008 - 2009

The Team
Shobharam Kanouje, Shewanta, Shanta
Majali, Anita, Balsingh,
Kamal, Seetaram, Deewan, Dinesh, Anil, Shersingh,
Jamuna, Dharmalata, Kavita, Reena
Shailaja, Ranjit, Zahid and Roshan
Badri Bhai, Dewika Behan
Jayashree, Amit

Run By
Veer Khajiya Naik Manav Vikas Pratishthan
Village Sakad, PO- Chatli, Dist. Barwani
Madhya Pradesh

Roll Call
The school started on 25th June 2008, with the onset of the monsoon with 60 day scholars and 90 in the hostel completing the quota of 150 students.
This year was lucky for us. We got a MSc. (Math) person who took care of middle and high school student’s, science and math classes for 6 months. One more for primary classes joined us. In addition to these we had a strong team of about 20 student teachers (senior students studying from 8th -12th classes). Majali, an ex student took the responsibility of co-coordinator of the primary section.
We were fortunate to have five volunteers from PRAVAH, INDICORPS, ahmedabad and individuals, who helped the children with English, Math, Craft, documentation work and generally in running the place.
The many visitors from various countries and states also helped the learning process of the children.
Results - The traditional measure
One old student who stays and helps in running the show at Adharshila got the 2nd position in the first semester of college. He missed the first just by 1% Two others from this batch are preparing for the PMT exam and keep in touch with us regularly.
Two students passed the 12th exam, one got 70%. Another came 2nd in the district in the excellence school admission test.
Many of our students who joined the Govt. Schools are doing extremely well. The Chatli High School Principal openly confessed that their school was getting good results because of students from Adharshila.
Interesting class projects done in the year besides the regular text book include The children were divided in 10 groups. Lot of stories, songs, activities and trips were used to aid their learning process. Many projects were undertaken - Equality and Caste System, History Time line from Apes to today's cities and villages, Classification of Animals, Evolution, Animals, Elements needed for growth of plants, Forests, Directions, The History of Man, Threshers made from recycled materials, Pin boards for two , classes made from recycled paper, How a cycle works, Modern modes of communication (Email, SMS, Post), The Solar System
Learning Opportunities at Adharshila
Adharshila is known not just for the good performance of the children as compared to the surrounding schools but more so for the learning opportunities it creates outside the classroom.
Art and craft : Children did a lot of craft work this year. One of the volunteers along with one of our own craft teacher helped the children in learning many types of crafts with different materials. A regular art and craft class was run, where children did origami, greeting card learnt jute knitting, etc..
Theatre etc. : Regular practice of drama and legime was done in afternoons. 2 students went for a film making workshop at Udaipur. One student who is learning organic farming, went to a sangathan meeting to convince people to adopt organic farming . 8-9 farmers –
Interactions with visitors : Many visitors come to Adharshila every year. This was an international visitor year for us. People from the US, Canada, Israel, Belgium and England. We also had visitors from Rajasthan, Orissa and Delhi. Children learnt about these states and countries by talking to these visitors in class and informally. Learning Workshops at Adharshila
Health and Body Awareness - Rinchin a social worker from Bhopal held a four day workshop on Body Awareness and health.
Story Telling and Criticism - Rinchin also held story telling sessions of stories she had written while she was working on a health programme in our district.
Muriel, a children's story writer and also a parent, home schooling her daughter also demonstrated how stories can be used to teach social science topics to children.
Film Making - Kavita, from Drishti, Ahmedabad held a 4 day film making workshop. 22 students and teachers participated in it. They were taken on a learning journey from story writing to handling the camera. They took shots for a film on Adharshila. This process will hopefully continue the next year also.

Learning Opportunities outside Adharshila
3 Suresh, Prakash, Seetaram, Balsingh and Shewanta - accompanied by Roshan a volunteer and Amit, attended the Activist Training held at the Manthan Learning Centre, Rajasthan where a beginning was made to understand their social reality. They also learnt about the origin of the Earth
3 Anita, Jamuna, Revali and Sunil went to the Sampoorna Kranti Vidyalaya, Vedchi, Gujarat for one month, to learn the full process of cloth making by hand right from cleaning raw cotton, ginning, spinning on the Amber Charkha, and weaving on a small Manipuri Loom. They also attended the Gandhi Mela in Surat - a big affair where many organizations participate.
3 Majali attended a two day women's workshop in Nagpur. She got an opportunity to understand the problems of women's organizations in Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Delhi etc.
3 Shobharam Kanouje, a senior teacher at Adharshila and Dinesh a student went to attend a two day training held by a reputed NGO in Pune, to learn about generating electricity mechanically. The workshop did not turn out to be as productive as we had thought, but they got an idea.
3 The senior students observed the process of elections. This was a new initiative where the organization did meetings in the district to convince people that the candidate should be selected by the community and not by party leaders sitting in Delhi.
Student Events
Students were very involved locally in many fields. Taking part in events and organizing them is a great for confidence building, self esteem and developing leadership skills.
3 The music team performed before at audience of 25-30,000 at the Narmada Maha-rally. They also participated in an election awareness campaign for six days with the Adivasi Mukti Sangatan(AMS) a local people’s movement on.
3 The Adharshila Band was at it's peak during this season. In general it was a musical summer. With the music team they recorded a lot of music. From a distance or listening to the recordings nobody can guess the instruments.
3 A student also spent a month as a volunteer at the AMS office.
3 The cricket team lost to the Sendhwa Public School team by 17 runs, while in chess, our team notched up 4 victories. Our two chess losses came at the hands of opponents twice the age of our students.
3 Three students, Sitaram, Suresh and Majali, received awards in a Hindi essay writing contest, while student-teacher Kamal placed first in his college exams. This period also saw regular music, dance and art teachers join our staff.
Major School Events
In all these events the students and children help in organizing the event according to their age.
Sports Day - This is easily the happiest week, with children practicing, preparing the ground and anticipating the gifts( prizes). Children from 6 schools participated in the sports day. For the smaller children most games were non - competitive and in the end everybody got a gift.
Tantiya Mama Kabbaddi Competition - This event was started last year for the village youth, who have to rely on 3rd grade films or liquor for entertainment. The good thing about this was that it was organized purely by the senior students and teachers. Eight village teams participated in the event. Cash prizes worth Rs. 3000 were given to the winners.
Primary Section Annual Function and Parents Meeting - Usually this is a big affair at the end of the year. This year we changed the practice and called the parents at the end of each term. The children put up a show to tell what they had learnt in the term. They also exhibited their work through charts and displayed the craft work that they had made.
In an in-house meeting with the children of the primary section at the end of the year the small kids told about their impressions of the year. Many of them came up with complaints of beating by elder boys and the elder boys apologized. Everybody was overwhelmed by the way the small pips were standing up and speaking up. Nobody felt bad at the complaining.
A report with grades and the child's general progress was also given to the children and discussed with the parents.

Many festivals were celebrated at the campus. Like every year this year's holi was a zabardast affair. This year the school was not closed. The full gang was there. Holi is very special at Adharshila because the students, big and small, freely throw mud, ash, water and colour on the teachers and other elders, sparing no one. It is really a time to forget who we are and indulge in true child like enjoyment.
During Diwali, students learnt to make chandeliers from recycled materials, as well as rangoli and wall painting. They also learnt to make gujia and puri sabzi.
All the local festivals are also celebrated.

Teacher Trainings3 At the start of the new session, a five day training was organized where 14 teachers from Adharshila, Rani Kajal Jeevanshala, Dist. Alirajpur and from schools affiliated to Adharshila were present. These schools are being run by people's initiatives. The main theme of the training was about making the school a place to promote democratic, secular and progressive ideas. The project approach of teaching for the middle sections was also discussed.
3 Two boys from Jagrit Dalit Adivasi Sangathan and one from Burhanpur Sangathan stayed with us for two months for training after which they started schools in their areas.
3 Teaching through stories : Muriel, a children's story writer, published by Scholastic, spent ten days at Adharshila. She worked with students and teachers, exploring the power of stories as learning tools. She also trained the teachers, to harness the potential of storytelling.
3 A one week shivir for our teachers/ student teachers was held ( 3 hrs/ day) to remove the doubts about Adharshila or the fear of not following the regular system.

Curriculum Development
Adharshila developed academic material and textbooks for several levels during this period. Though the work did not proceed at the pace at which we wanted to but still we were able to develop some primers. This definitely improved the quality of teaching. Among these are:
a. English poetry collection for Levels 1 - 3. We are making small poems in English based on themes familiar to children there.
b. Hindi poetry for Levels 1 - 5.
c. English conversation for Level 1and 2
d. English teaching books based on phonetic system - Level 1and 2.
e. Hindi reading material for Levels 1- 3
f. Activities and lesson plans for 8 topics were prepared for 6th - 8th grades.
g. The teachers wrote out there weekly plans for two terms ( about 6 months). Of these the programme for the two smallest groups has been typed out for the full year. Next year the teacher will get a ready planner and will be able to spend more time on thinking about teaching methodology rather than content.
a. A Children's Magazine, Baal Oorja –Four issues of a children's magazine - Baal Oorja were taken out. One of the volunteers helped in this. The last issue was taken out completely by a senior student. He learnt to do the layout through this. The matter was written completely by the children of Adharshila. We invited articles from other schools but nobody responded.
b. A book based on the malnutrition and food availability survey has gone for publication. This study had received first prize at the National Children's Science Congress last year.
c. The children chose a topics of their interest., researched it and made their own books. Some children illustrated them also.
d. We published the books for the primary section ( in-house ) mentioned in the Curriculum Development section.
New Initiatives -
New Schools
We are constantly trying to convince people's organizations to start rural schools through people's initiatives. One new school was started in Burhanpur and another in Barwani district. The teachers for these schools were trained for 2 months in Adharshila.
Yuma Shivir
Due to the insistence of yeas in Adharshila a yoga shivir was organized. The theme of the shivir was - ' Youth is the future of India but what is the future of Youth' About 25 boys and girls between 16 - 20 years from 8 villages attended the shivir for 2 days. The shivir concluded with discussing ways of increasing the learning opportunities for youth in villages. They listed many things which they wanted to learn ranging from herbal medicine to film to moths.
Sale of farm products - A preliminary meeting of farmers was called to discuss ideas to sell farm produce directly to consumers in cities. The people were positive and even collected about 50 Kg. pulses and 5 Kg. haldi.

Organic Agriculture :
Like every year, organic farming was one of the main activities that engaged children all the year round. This year we sowed jowar on an experimental plot of 500 sq.m ( 5 gunthas) and got 2 quintals. This is pretty good for a start. Besides this we harvested 7 quintal vegetable and 3 quintal daal and fodder for 5 cattle. We did not have to buy for at least 3 months for the mess feeding 100 students.
Through this the children learnt many practices of organic agriculture which they practice at home also like making Jivanamrut – an organic fertilizer, mulching plants with leaves, composting and making organic pesticide from leaves etc. They also learn principles of science, ecology and problems of farmers through this work.
Small plots were allotted to children’s groups where they grew vegetables.
Drip irrigation, brought from Wardha was also tried in the tomato plot successfully. We also sowed coriander on a large scale specifically to raise money. The crop was great but the price was so low that it barely fetched the cost of seeds and transport.

The cow gave birth to a calf taking the tally of animals to 5. We got about 250 lit. milk for the mess.
1000 saplings of Garside, Sesbania, Papaya, perennial Tuwar, Jungle Jalebi, etc…were grown in the nursery which was set up in March 2008. Of these 700 saplings were planted by students and parents. Of these 400 were saved by the end of the term. It was a pleasure seeing the teamwork and dedication of the small children who took special interest in developing small plots of trees, where they sat for hours after classes. A nursery has been made to develop plants for the next season.
Contact with Surrounding Villages
Baal Melas - Baal Melas, performed in villages engaged nearly 400 children for the whole day in various fun and science activities.
Cycle yatra : 12 students from Adharshila went on a 5- day cycle yaatra which covered 200 km .The main purpose of cycle yatra was to learn about the state of education in the villages. Students held meetings, sang songs and exhibited posters.
Youth Groups : A dialogue with the youth of Sakad village was started by the volunteers. Though a concrete group did not form but a good relationship was formed.
Reaching out
3 Participation in dharna : About 30 students of middle and high school of Adharshila participated in a protest against irregularities in the running of the PDS shops of the area smoothly.
3 Our music team performed in front of a 25,000 people at the NBA rally in Khandwa.
3 Adharshila's Naatak India Company performed yet another hit play in the Barela Pawra Adivasi Sammelan held at Pansemal.
3 A meeting for the members of Jagrit Adivasi Dalit Sangathan, M.P. was held to explain to them the problems of the present education system and ways of bringing about change in it. The theme was explained with the help of songs and a poster exhibition. They have decided to start a people's school.
3 A teacher and two students were invited to be facilitators of a children’s workshop on craft hosted by the NGO Muskaan in Bhopal.
3 Three other students represented Adharshila at a crafts workshop hosted by the Rani Kajal Learning Centre in Kakrana. They also took the opportunity to explore the history of people’s movements in the area.
3 We volunteered to make a ring tone and record songs for the election campaign of an independent candidate.
3 Jayashree went to the women's workshop in Nagpur as a resource person.
3 Amit was called to deliver a key lecture on Work and Education in a state level workshop held by NCERT, in Bhopal

Health Awareness amongst students and community
Primary health is one of the subjects which have been pursuing keenly. This year we took a number of steps to increase awareness about health issues amongst the students of Adharshila and surrounding villages.
3 This year too the middle school children studied primary health as a subject. Primers prepared by reputed organizations working in the health sector viz. CEHAT, Nirantar and VHAI were used.
3 The exhibition on malnutrition was shown in schools in surrounding villages. The exhibition was also shown during the cycle yaatra. The villagers watched the exhibition with great interest and had a lot of questions for the children.
3 Rinchin, from Bhopal who is active in campaigning for various health issues conducted a 3 day workshop for elder children. She did a body mapping exercise and explained the principles of preventive health to them.
3 Two students chose to take health related topics for preparing project reports for their final evaluation.
3 One student went to Gujarat and stayed for 15 days in a rural hospital run by Arch Vahini a reputed NGO working in the health sector. He used the skills learnt there throughout the year dressing wounds not just of children but elders also.
3 At least three discussions were organized with the senior students on health related issues. One of these discussions related to the debate in the parliament regarding giving biscuits to children instead of mid day meals. Another related to chronic malnutrition in a district of MP and the govt. decision to give them special nutrient drops to be mixed in the dough to fight malnutrition. Very interesting and heated discussions took place.
3 A book on malnutrition has been published based on a food availability study done by students in surrounding villages.
3 We started the process of making guidelines for a health curriculum for primary and middle classes.

Even after doing all this there are questions in the mind - where is all this leading to ? What is the contribution of Adharshila in building a more equal and just society ?

Review of Adharshila' work and Exploring new possibilities - We invited Shri Dutta Savle an experienced activist, to review the progress of our work and explore new possibilities. He was with us for 5 days. After a lot of brainstorming and reflecting on past experiences - ours and others, it was decided to start separate activities to engage the youth of the area. The youth shivir was one of the outcomes of this. It was felt that the school part is also necessary and should be systemized further. Talking to him was a very rejuvenating experience. He was very hopeful as education is a long term investment programme and does not show immediate results.
3 A new classroom for small children was built.
3 Books worth about Rs. 5000/- were added to the library.
3 3 new almirahs were built and installed in the main building.
3 The installation of a transformer also meant regular voltage, even though electric supply is still sporadic, that allows for the running of several laptops for several hours. This has allowed, among other things, regular computer classes for 8-10 students.
3 We also experimented with a bucket latrine as a replacement to our septic tank system.. As narrated on our blog, the project was eventually abandoned for a lack of volunteers to do the necessary maintenance.

3 20 young Indian Americans were here for 8 days to know about alternative ways of learning and trying to understand the problems of rural India.
3 Shyam Kansal - A rice mill owner from Orissa stayed with us for three days to discuss the possibilities of starting a similar venture in his place.
3 Muriel and her daughter who delighted the children with her stories.
3 Michelle and Sebastian-Canadian Filmmakers documenting alternative education initiatives in Asia
3 Netta- An Israeli girl interested in Nai Talim education and how it could relate to her country.
3 Shelley- The editor of The Monthly, Australia’s most eminent political journal, along with her brother, passed by.
3 Eames Demetrios, an American documentarian, storyteller and designer.
3 Jordan a photographer from Canada spent three days with us.
3 Abhinav a graduate in electrical engineering stayed with us for 5 days. He also wants to open a school near Jabalpur..
3 A team of students, teachers and coordinators from Hunar Ghar, Rajasthan, stayed with us for a week.
3 A team of Karyakartas from Orissa Jan Adhikar Morcha from Orissa, spent a day at Adharshila.
3 Lokashish and Kavita from PRAVAH, Delhi
3 Nidhi, from Indicorps, Ahmedabad
3 Shashank and Karuna, Madurai
3 Damyanti, Accounts consultant, Pune
3 Winter Birds: The Wagtail from the Himalayas, the Green Bee Eater and the Black Drongo.
Our students took the opportunity to interview our guests and learn all they could while they were here.
We are indebted to SRUTI, New Delhi, The INSPIRE group, Ms. Madhulika Aggarwal, Shri Sudhanshu Pandey, Shri Rahul Ram, Shri Ramesh Kacholiya, Zindabaad Trust
Shri Eams Demetrios, Ms. Michelle and Shri Sebastian, Shri Usha Kant Varma,Shri and Shrimati Sodhi, Jojo, City Automation Pvt. Ltd., New Delhi and Shri Shyam Kansal for their generous financial contribution to Adharshila.