My EKAL Vanyatras to Faridabad District-Haryana, India – on 23rd & 24th January 2017.
(A Source of Light)

On my second attempt, I finally could visit some EKAL schools in Haryana – they are being sponsored by the Al Maktoum Foundation – Dubai, UAE. In total 30 schools in India have been sponsored by the Al Maktoum Foundation and we are truly indebted to H.H. Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum for his kindness.  I greatly appreciate H.E. Mirza Al Sayegh who formalized the whole process.


My first trip to Delhi was aborted in September 2016 by the epidemics of dengue and chikungunya. I had then returned to Mumbai to wait for safer times to proceed on my EKAL Vanyatras.


On 23rd January 2017, I was back in Delhi to spend time in villages of: Atoha, Bamni Kheda Colony, Foolwadi Nagla on the first day of my travel. My travelling companions were Shri Vijay Sethi and Shrimati Sunila Bhatia, who are associated with EKAL Vidyalaya Foundation of India. Shri Vijay K Sethi is a long standing volunteer, he is Vice-President of Friends of Tribal Society, Delhi. He is also Member Secretary Committee & Management Representative ISO 9001 Project, EKAL Vidyalaya Foundation of India. Shrimati Sunila Bhatia is a senior-level expert in Mathematics with 35 years of experience in teaching – she has done her Masters from Delhi University. Now, she is associated with Abhibavak Yojna on which I have given a description in the latter part of my article. 


During our car journey to Palwal – Haryana, the 60 kilometer ride to the city from Delhi was interesting because we had dialogues on EKAL, rural India and Indian politics.  We also touched upon topics related to India’s rich and ancient cultural heritage. 


The EKAL Schools in Haryana were vibrant, it was a treat to see the children’s text books, and they were brisk in reciting 16 and 18 times tables. Their heavy bags identified their EKAL teacher’s role in helping them out in their daily homework, originating from their regular schools. This was an impressive feature, I thought.  Later, in other schools also I found that the kids were having coaching classes through the EKAL teachers who are helping out the village kids with their day to day courses of their regular schools.  So, EKAL learning has graduated from: ‘basic’ learning to a much higher strata in these schools.  Besides, I found all the six teachers at the six schools very adequate for their roles.  The teacher, Sangeeta from Lohina has done her Masters in Hindi.   


At Atoha, there were nearly 30 children in the EKAL class. The Maths text book of grade 4 was of high standard indicating that the government run school was having a very proper curriculum. The second school was at Bamni Kheda. Here, Muthlesh has been teaching at the EKAL School for the past 5 years.  The lady is qualified up to the 10th level and her ability to communicate was efficient.   I had brief Q & A sessions at the schools with the kids and the teachers, and they form a vital source of learning for me.  Based on the mass reactions, I am able to find the pulse of the EKAL Schools.  I would suggest more donors to visit these establishments, as such trips mean a lot to EKAL Vidyalaya Foundation of India.


From Palwal, one can add another 25 kilometers to cover all the three EKAL schools for the day – making the total journey of my Vanyatra to be 200 kilometers. That was the reason that it was not possible to cover more than 3 schools per day. 


In order to know more about the running of the EKAL schools, I also had interaction with the other EKAL team members: Shri Amar Pal, Shri Jal Singh and Shrimati Bimlesh – the lady gave me information how every EKAL teacher has a bank account where the salary is deposited directly to the account, every month.  Similarly, the karyakartas also receive their salaries by the same mode.


Day Two.  Kondal, Sebly and Lohina were the villages visited by us.  Captian Yadav, the owner of the car company himself drove us on our Vanyatra. This time, along with Shri Vijay Sethi, Shrimati Veena Bhat was my new travel mate to accompany me on my tour. Shrimati Veena Bhat has done her Masters and PhD in Zoology. After teaching for 36 years, she has retired as an Associate Professor, and enjoys volunteering for EKAL.


Why I am stressing on the academic background of my travelling companions is because they reflect on the infrastructure of EKAL Vidyalaya Foundation.  We all know that any organization is known by the people who run it, and how they run it.  In EKAL, people from different walks of life are volunteering and this certainly gives a strong backing to EKAL.  Shrimati Sunila Bhatia and Shrimati Veena Bhat are a part of the Abhibhavak Yojna which is an internal project set up on an experimental basis by Shri Ravi Dev Gupta – General Secretary, EKAL Vidyalaya Foundation of India.  The purpose of Abhibhavak Yojna is to appoint ‘guardians’ who are monitoring the schools at short intervals to see that every aspect concerning the imparting of education to the village children is going on smoothly.   I think it’s a fantastic way of monitoring.


What is the overall performance of a particular EKAL School? Are the salaries coming on time for the EKAL teachers? Are the karyakartas receiving their pay cheques every month? What is the class attendance like?  What is the standard of teaching? Is any child suffering from emotional stress? What is the remedy for such cases? Is there overall stability in the running of the EKAL Schools?  What is the opinion of the villagers about EKAL Schools?  These are the questions I ask during all my Vanyatras, and the same queries are tackled by persons like Shri Vijay Sethi, Shrimati Sunila Bhatia and Shrimati Veena Bhat.  Indirectly, Shri Vijay Sethi  on his trips of accompanying donors to their schools is able to grasp the actual scene when he makes such field trips. Often, I stopped to have conversations with the elders of the village to get their views on girl-child’s education, and how EKAL was benefitting their village.  Similarly, I asked the teachers if they were having any difficulties in running their class. 


In Haryana, I can say confidently that it was a very satisfying experience to observe that EKAL Vidyalaya Foundation of India is doing a commendable job.  Of course, I must repeat by adding that another feather to the cap is the role of Abhibhavak Yojna.  I must compliment Shri Ravi Dev Gupta who is playing a crucial role in the advancement of EKAL. He has been actively involved with EKAL for years, and my own interaction with him has shown me his caliber as a self-realized person.


The population in the areas around Palwal is inhabited by Gurjars (Baisla) clan, Jats, Rajputs, Brahmins and Punjabi migrants. Palwal has an average literacy rate of 70.32%, higher than the national average of 65.5%. Male literacy is 78.92% while female literacy is around 67.87%.  My personal view is that the EKAL Schools are playing an important role in this region.  In fact, the contribution of EKAL Schools is certainly enhancing the efforts of the educational scene in India.


I am grateful to EKAL-Delhi for planning my Haryana EKAL Vanyatras.


The diarist has made her initial Vanyatras in Maharashtra and Gujarat in the years 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016.

Geeta Chhabra


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