If you take a walk in lanes and fields of Katoria block in Banka district, after walking down a muddy narrow lane through the fields you’ll come across a school crowded with hundreds of girls chattering and studying in school uniform and braided hair. This is Project Girls High School, Katoria.
This school has come a long way and the story goes back to 2017.
Unnayan was being introduced in Banka for its pilot phase. PGHS Katoria was the first school to be selected for initiation of Unnayan. It was time for the ground inspection and school visit. Travelling through the Katoria block the team reached to a point where afterwards there was no proper road but a muddy lane to travel through. After walking down that lane, we could see a building standing at a distance, that was PGHS Katoria, a school where chitter chatter of students was replaced with a silence of hopelessness. It was a two-room school with 12 girl students and 3 female teachers.
It’s a school situated in an LWE affected region where most of the families are BPL and relies on odd jobs like sewing clothes or labour work for their livelihood. Children have somewhere accepted the fact that their destiny is to be earning their livelihoods on a daily basis like their parents. They have almost left the thought of going to school or study because they know there are not enough teachers and the path they need to go through to reach their destination is not any bed of roses. Children have lost all the interest in studying since they see no scope out of it and their world is limited to the vast fields touching the horizons.
The school recorded an average attendance of 12% in 2017 out of approx 700 enrolled students. This was no surprise after interacting with people around which unveiled the fact that parents and children are far away from the thought of going to school. On similar lines, the passing percentage was recorded at around 38.14% in 2017.
With the initiation of Unnayan, it put new life into the school and rekindled the lost spirit of children and parents likewise. A few days passed, with persuasion and a lot of convincing we saw a change in people’s mindset and parents started sending their children to school.
Students were excited about the new teaching method of interactive audio-visual aids and their lost interest was reawakened. Students started pouring in and an increase in attendance was observed in subsequent weeks. With the animated and interactive video lectures, they could relate to the examples and understand difficult concepts with ease in a jiffy.
With this, not only the students were benefitted but the Unnayan Initiative supplements the efforts of teachers and provides them with a platform to share and discuss the barriers in the implementation of the project directly with District Administration and Eckovation team. This made the education system more inclusive and efficient making teachers enthusiastic and responsible for their duties towards the welfare of the students. Teachers got a helping-hand to explain the difficult concepts to students with ease and in a better way.
Over the span of two years, the situation of school has overturned completely. From a deserted school to crowded to a level that two rooms are not sufficient to accommodate the students attending the school at present times, the school has seen a substantial change. Attendance has increased magnificently from 12% to about 40% and is increasing steadily. The interest of students has gradually increased in studies with continuous career guidance given by the Unnayan team. This practice has expanded the horizons for the students, they now know what impact can studies have and to where they can reach following the path of hard work. Students have realised their potential and the fact that their destiny lies in their own hands and the sky is the limit. With this changing attitude, students’ performance is gradually improving and the numbers tell the same story. The passing percentage which was 38.16% in 2017 has taken a huge leap and jumped to 88.6%.
Two years back who would have thought that these girls who were restricted to their homes and household chores will outperform everyone when given a chance and quality education they rightfully deserve.
Unnayan has helped these girls to break through the restricted norms, spread their wings and fly with to the sky of unlimited opportunities with the wind of quality education.