Asha's Response and Comment on EAD
- Dear Arkitects and their friends
Though the right person to answer Shanti's question is Shaheen, but
I would like to put my own thought. My response to Shanti's concern
is base on the following three statements of Ark Foundation.
Our dream is to see that each and every child has access to a quality
education, a healthy life and a society free of exploitation and
The mission of Ark Foundation is to empower people by equipping them
with knowledge, so that they can improve their socio-economic status,
and participate meaningfully in the development of society. Ark will
try to inculcate a sense of courage, dedication and confidence into
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 Arks programmes.
If one reads these statements, he/she can get the answer of
questions raised by Shanti. Though she raised many questions but the
question related to planning of resource mobilization in "Strategy"
column of the Education At Doorstep is very important.
It is not that Ark Foundation does not have resource mobilization
planning otherwise it would not have been successfully running a
High School in Kataila village (UP). There may be some planning which
either Shaheen is not able to explain us or never thought of giving
it that much important to make it a part of ARKs newsletter. But I
think he should come with those plans and programmes which are
running the school since 1995 and that too without "funding".
It is very clear from this-"to empower people by equipping them with
knowledge". I am giving my thought and my personal understanding
hence my own interpretation. What I gather from ARK experience is
that they are able to empower villagers through equipping them with
knowledge. Her we should understand the 'knowledge' Shaheen very
often talks about. This knowledge is nothing to with academic
discussion or philosophical discourses on the university campuses or
in intellectual gatherings. This 'knowledge' is, as my little
understanding says, a knowledge of people, local people- which is
time tested techniques or mechanics. Like the knowledge of artisans,
potters, weavers, farmers, ironsmiths to quote a few.
All the local people of his village contributes in running the
school. It is very important to give a proper shape to their
knowledge and a platform (outlets) for their products. Holistic
approach. There are enough resource in villages to run and manage a
successful development programme. The only thing is how to find a
market for the local product and how to create a viable outlet for
This 'knowledge' teaches people about the proper management of local
products, community assets for a good and healthy life. It is we can
say that it is not giving fish but fishing technique that is proper
utilization of locally available infrastructure.
The best part is that ARK is not just talking about it but at the
same time practicing it in Kataila village. though its newsletters
and emails, we know very well that how arkitects are educating youths
of Kataila to run a school and a library.
In its last newsletter Shaheen mentioned about the establishment of
a library in the village. where is the requirement of money. After
learning this news I thought even I can do it but it is here the
different lies between me (if not many of us) and he. He has already
implemented it. Now we know that how easy is to establish a library
and that too without 'funding'.
I think we should start documenting such small but important
experiences of grass root workers and find out whether it can be
given a form to be replicated in other villages.
There is no doubt, as Vishwa said in the his mail, that wee should
encourage such grass root workers. It is very important as they are
making real change in their respective fields. We should documents
all the experiences, both failed and successful, of these groups.
Like the foundation of the library in Kataila. Going home to home
for collection of old books and putting them in room and asking one
of the students/teachers to manage the library. It is very easy and
practical but never struck me.