EDUCATION AT DOORSTEP
- Ark's Philosophy
Spoon feeding creates dependency. It is always better to give, says a
Chinese saying, a fishing technique to a hungry man than a fish. And
above all, right to live in dignity is a basic human right. The best
way to help those who are disenfranchised live a dignified life is
through creation of Social Capital. It includes formation of self
help groups, vocational training and local resource management
education, all of which form the backbone of Ark's programmes.
Education at Doorstep
Ark understands the difficulty many children have in travelling from
one village to another to attain school lessons and is aware that for
many children education is secondary to contributing to economic
activities at home. It is with this in mind that Ark began its
Education Centres with the idea that if children can't go to school,
we'll bring school to them.
One of the basic guiding principles is to find out
children's need and what they should be taught?
We know that:
* Children need love more than anything else. For this,
parents, guardians and employers of children need to be
educated about the importance of love for children. This is a
big challenge before the Foundation. Ark still does not have
any concrete programme for this.
* Children work hard, all by themselves, to be more grown up
* Many of them who get into the most trouble are suffering from a
lack of affection rather than any form of punishment.
* Children are eager to learn if they are instructed in ways that
are right for their age and if they are taught by understanding
teachers. That is why we are equally focusing on providing
training to teachers from Ark's perspective of education.
* Children have a natural curiosity and capability of learning
which needs to be preserved and promoted.
Significance Of Education
The significance of education in modern society cannot be over
estimated. Literate and educated people are a prerequisite both for
maintaining and furthering developing societies. The crucial need of
education for the people in various spheres of modern social life-
economic, political, social, ethical, health and others- has been
More than fifty years into Independence, Indian children have little
to celebrate: 6.3 crore of them are still out of school. This despite
the constitutional directive (now a fundamental right) urging all
states to provide "free and compulsory education for all children
until they complete the age of 14 years". The Constitution envisaged
fulfilling this promise by 1960. Yet, if present trends continue,
India is still 50 years away from reaching the goal.
There are two myths that are often invoked to explain the slow
progress of elementary education: one, a supposed lack of parental
motivation; two, that work keeps children away from school.
Work does not keep children away from school: a myth is that children
are unable to go to school because they have to work. It is true that
some children -- for example, eldest daughters in poor families, work
long hours, which makes it difficult for them to go to school. But
the general pattern is surprisingly different: a majority of out-of-
school children in rural India have plenty of time on their hands.
Among out-of-school children, about half work less than three hours a
day. Only 18 per cent work more than eight hours. One-third do not do
any work at all during school hours. Girls tend to work more than
boys (mainly at home), but even they usually have enough spare time
to attend school. Indeed, school hours in rural India are effectively
quite short -- say four to five hours a day for 120 days in the year.
Only a small minority of children is so busy that they cannot make
themselves available for such a limited period of time.
Moreover, when children work rather than going to school, it does not
necessarily mean that work requirements are to blame for their
failure to attend school. In many cases, it is the other way round:
children work because they are unable to go to school. The right to
education in India is one that is violated to such an extent that it
often assumes the nature of common occurrences in everyday life. At
an early stage, violations take the form of bare walls and classrooms
without teachers. At later stages, the lack of adequate education
often pushes the already impoverished into informal sectors of labour.
Poor Are Too Backward To Invest In Education
Why is education special? Why should Ark Foundation and other social
action groups work on providing quality education? A common reason
that is supplied is that poor people are too backward to invest in
education by themselves; hence the only way to ensure that their
children grow up educated is through government and social action
groups' interventions. Indeed, the withdrawal of the State from other
areas should help free up resources for education and health. Both
the state and social action groups should work together to strengthen
existing educational infrastructure by making them accountable to the
village communities and creating new infrastructure in the area where
there is no access to school within a walking distance of one
kilometer in case of a primary school and three kilometers in case
of a high school.
Purpose of education should be to work in the direction of equalizer.
Each child is an individual and should be allowed to be so. Reason,
science and respect for humanity will form the educational curriculum
of the foundation. It will finally leads towards creating of just
and equal society.
There is a strong consensus today about the importance of education
in Indian public policy. It is hard to imagine how productivity and
income growth can come about for the 45 per cent of India, which is
illiterate. It is high time serious attention be paid on educational
questions as they go a long way in shaping the thinking of the
Means And Ends
It is not just important to have noble goals only. Nobel means are
equally important. We don't believe in 'Peace at the gun point'. Let
peace comes through peaceful, noble, means. It is very simple. One
does not have to remove darkness to bring light. Darkness is nothing
but absence of light. Light a candle, the darkness will disappear.
So we should focus more on process rather than product, though the
later one is also not ignorable.
Enhance Student Learning
Ark Foundation will work towards enhancement of a student's learning
and understanding ability through innovative educational tools and
proved traditional learning methods. It will employ a student-
centered curriculum that builds on student knowledge. The curriculum
will be supported with in-depth activity-based learning and teach
and reinforce it with instructional opportunities that celebrate the
unique background and experience each student brings to the Ark
Education Centre. Its programmes will take advantage of a new and
emerging education technology that improves student achievement.
Motivate Students for Education
Students should be taught to learn from their surrounding. An issue-
oriented rural education curriculum will be designed to help them
understand and address major cultural and environmental issues. The
education centres will encourage there critical thinking and problem-
solving skills. Ark looks at the cultural, economic, social and
educational environment of a human being's universe, with education
being at the forefront.
Connect Education Centre And The Community
Community participation is at the core of the foundation. Ark aims to
work hand in hand with the disadvantaged sections of the society,
specially children, so that they can learn to help themselves and
look forward to a better and brighter future. Education programmes
will be a collaborative effort that brings the community to the
centre, and the centre to the community. Education Centre will tie
the curriculum to the home culture of the students, and will present
multiple points of view and diverse perspectives. The Programmes will
link centre restoration or research projects with similar community
Build Future of India
Children are future of a country. It is they who are going to be
torch bearer of tomorrow. So in order to build strong and vibrant
tomorrow we need to work in children. Is a nation's welfare possible
without the welfare of its children?
Educators and students will understand the philosophies, practices
and strategies used by Ark Foundation in the protection and
preservation of the nation's natural and cultural heritage. Students
will be introduced to careers in environmental advocacy, in general,
and Ark Education Centre , in particular
We understand the division of Indian society. We also know that the
division is more prominent in the rural society. Ark Foundation will
cultivate educational environment that encourages all students to
learn to the best of their potential. The centre will make programmes
accessible to students for whom English is a second language through
the use of translated curriculum guides, bilingual volunteers and
multiple styles of learning. The centre will establish and sustain
relationships with low-income group section of the society.
Education should always be two way process. It is dynamic in a sense
that both teachers and students are in a process of learning.
Learning about the natural and cultural world takes place in the
context of social relationships. Education programmes must involve
the interaction of students with Ark staff, teachers and other
students, not simply the actions of Ark staff and teachers on
students. Students experience cooperative learning, see the
curriculum applied in the real world, and have a moment to reflect on
their own contributions.
To provide all children in each Village Development Circle
with access to quality education up to high school. To check
differences in enrolment, dropout rates and learning
achievement among gender and social groups.
To check overall dropout for all students in the Village
To create an environment and capacity- we call it "social
capital"- in a Village Development Circle to run and manage
its own educational institutions- school, library, computer
centre and vocational training centre.
Create a responsive institutional base which includes
enhanced community participation and strengthen the process
of catering to special focus groups-marginalized sections.
Purpose of bringing about quantitative and qualitative
improvement in the Village Development Circle.
Establishing linkages between other individuals, institutions
and group to achieve common goals.
Ark Education Centre
A Village Development Circle (VDC) in each village with a radius of
approximately 3kms will be the basis for the implementation of Ark's
activities. Each Development Circle will have:
Computer Education Centre
Cultural Activity Centre
Vocational Training Centre
Ark has been involved in its Kataila school project since 1995 but it
was in 2002 that the school got recognition from the State Education
Board of Uttar Pradesh Government. With the consistent efforts of
Ark, Village Head (Graam Pradhan) and educated community of the
village, the UP Government sanctioned funds for the school building
for middle school (6th, 7th and 8th standard).
This school is very much patterned on the mainstream schooling
system, though with reliable teachers and consistent classes. From
this semester Ark has introduced high school (9th and 10th standard)
in the village school as we see a real need for this in the village.
In the village, people are accustomed to making bowls or decorative
items out of their old books! They do not know what to do with their
old books. Ark Library is working as a hub where people deposit their
old books so that these are available for student exchange. Ark
volunteers and teachers of the school go from house to house
collecting disused books, binding them if necessary and then
arranging them in the library. The Library is open every Sunday to
issue and collect books, and we are planning to extend the library,
adding new books to the growing collection.
Medium of Instruction
Mother tongue is the medium of instruction at our all the education
centers. However teaching of English language is compulsory at the
schools and centres run by Ark Foundation
Ark aims at a comprehensive intervention in the field of education in
general and environmental education in particular.
It will design strategies and an alternative curriculum which take a
comprehensive overview of the current education system. The second
important step in this direction will be to take an overview focus of
teachers, students and the learning situation, with special emphasis
given to the context and location specify of the learner. Textbooks
can be the starting point only and classroom the first meeting
place. But to make them work properly learning should be made
playful, adventurous and exciting; in whatever manner that suits the
teachers and learners.
Implementation and Accountability
One of the important strategies before a social action group (SAG)
should be to see local government official implement the existing
programmes and make them accountable to the institution they belong
to in particular and to people of the area in general.
There are a number of government schools in rural areas where
teachers go to schools once a week and that too to fill their
attendance register of the whole week. They are least botherd about
their duty. Similarly, there are government Primary Health Cenres
(PHCs) in villages where neither doctors nor nurse or even midwives
visit. Medicines, which should be given free of cost, are being sold
in open markets. Doctors are busy in minting money by practicing in
cities leaving poor villagers at the mercy of traditional healers and
yamraaj- the god of death.
A SAG can educate people about their right to free health facilities
at the local PHCs. It can also teach them strategy to make government
servants accountable. People's acceptance and participation are very
crucial for such kind of action. Villagers can also force teachers to
attend school six days a week or face the wrath of their collective
power. A SAG can help them in making rational and sustainable
strategy. It can draft applications to be given to higher authority
to make them accountable. SAG people can contact media to highlight
Ark is following the text books of state boards but at the same time
it is also working on developing its own text books which will enable
children to develop their environment. It is important to see the
appropriateness of the use of teaching learning material and
activities in their transaction
A school is like a temple, teachers its priests and children its
devotees. Ark is very sad to see corruption making dent in the most
pious area of the society. It is here, future of a country is being
trained to take the challenge of changing world. Ark team is working
in this direction and at the same time also inviting people to share
their information and experiences to provide for quality education.
It will take the concern for our environment as a prime area of
emphasis, especially in the larger content of quality education. It
attempts to ingrain love for nature and environment into the children.
Ark would like to create a group of committed teachers who can help
us realise Ark's dream the dream to see that each and every child
has access to a quality education, a healthy life and a society free
of exploitation and violence.
The teachers have to rethink about the traditional educational
techniques and to evolve new one as per the need and requirement of
particular village society. Ark believes that every society has its
own social dimension, economic resource and cultural practice. So we
need to plan our strategy keeping in mind the need of a particular
Apart from helping young pupils acquire intellectual abilities and
developing basic competence in them, the foundation lays great
stress on the values that they inculcate, the faith that they develop
in their own self-making and range of human qualities. To enable a
child to grow into healthy, capable and good individual is an aim Ark
seeks to fulfill in respect of each of its students. Alongside the
development of critical and rational faculties of a child, the school
should contribute towards the blossoming of the creative potential of
Education of the mass of children requires enormous flexibility,
acceptance of different paces of learning, adoption of a variety of
methods rather than one uniform method, placing greater emphasis on
skills and processes of the production of knowledge than on
information memorising and processing, which would enable children to
build upon their own experience, reflect upon it and articulate their
experiences and visions. When educational services are produced by
the public sector, as they are at present, there will be no effort at
trying to think about the customer and improving the quality of
services from his perspective.
It is not possible to change so many ideas about the natural
needs of children without mixing up a lot of parents. We are
planning to create ongoing relationships with parents and
professionals who can give support and guidance. Written information
can also help children. Ark Foundation will be happy to incorporate
practical suggestion from concerned people.
Community Mobilization and Participation
Educational innovations of Ark Foundation are based on the
strong foundation of community support and participation. This is
based on the age-old tradition of Shramdaan- donation of labour. Ark
heavily depends on volunteers in running schools and educational
centres in slums and villages.
Ark believes in grass root development, which is not possible
without involving the affected people of the area. This will give
strong foundation to make a development programme sustainable and
self reliant. Mobilising the village community to take responsibility
to ensure quality education for every child is the core strategy of
Village Development Circle and Slum Development programme of the
Foundation in its efforts to universalize primary education and
deliver quality education up to high school level in its action areas.