Bharti recently enrolled herself in a BA course in a private college in Machhgar, in Faridabad district of Harayana, which is about 35 kilometres away from Delhi. Her day starts with the hustle bustle of household chores, post that she gets ready for college. After college Bharti teaches at the villages’s Ekal Vidyala from 3 PM till 6 PM everyday. She has been teaching there from the last 5 years. Ekal family calls Bharti and all its teachers ‘acharyas’.
Eckovation visited the Machhgar center of Ekal Vidyalaya on January 29, 2015, called Van Yatra by the Ekal family.
Ekal Vidyalayas are supported by The Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation which is a charitable trust that initiates, supports, and runs one-teacher schools (known as Ekal Vidyalayas) all over India to provide basic elementary education to children, especially in remote and tribal villages of India.
To date, Ekal Vidyalaya is a movement of over 53,000 teachers, 6,000 voluntary workers, 35 field organization (throughout 22 Indian states), and 8 support agencies. The overriding philosophy is to take a holistic approach to social and economic development. The Ekal movement is the largest grassroots, non-government education movement operating in remote and tribal villages of India.
Mr Adish Jain, an NRI from USA who has adopted 15 such centers accompanied us to the yatra. Our guide for this yatra was Mr. Vijay Sethi, a retired government official and member of the Ekal executive committee who has devoted his life to the cause of running Ekal Vidyalayas.
Like any other Indian conservative village, Machhgar restricts its girls and women from going outside the village for studying or pursuing academic courses and jobs. However the people whom we met during the visit were quite inclined towards education, so much so that a couple of households have adopted the village’s primary school and are trying to refurbish it.
First of all, we went to the district center of Ekal Vidyalas in Ballabhgarh. It is a small building made on land donated by a private school located nearby The center holds all teacher training programmes and workshops for all acharyas. After having lunch with a family in the village, Mr Sethi took us to the vidyalaya.
When we reached, there were about 40 students along with Bharti waiting for us. Their class started with recitation of Gayatri mantra followed by Saraswati vandana. The class then studied basic principles of mathematical calculations and English language prose. Bharti, on any normal day spends about 2 hours on daily lessons and about an hour on testing what she taught the day before.
We also met Kanchan, an 8-year-old girl who wants to become a teacher, just like her Bharti ma’am. The zeal and enthusiasm of these students was incomparable. Most of them could easily reproduce what they had learnt in the classes, while others were a little overwhelmed by visitors looking in admiration and awe.