Maharashtra: Notebook Donation Drive is Boosting Education in Tribal Areas of Palghar & Nashik
The government provides midday meals, uniforms and textbooks, but no notebooks that are crucial for proper learning and teaching to take place. A non-profit is trying to address this gap.
Danish Iqbal 28 Sep 2023 10:48 AM GMT
It may seem innocuous or inconsequential to many of us, but in tribal-dominated Palghar and Nasik districts in Maharashtra, a lack of notebooks is becoming a hindrance in the education of the children.
To address this problem, an annual Notebook Donation drive is making notebooks available to hundreds of tribal children who belong to economically weak families and study at government schools in Palghar and Nasik. This Notebook Donation drive has been going on for the past 12 years.
“For twelve years now, we have been on a mission to supply notebooks to about 150 schools in the tribal taluka of Mokhada in Palghar. We raise money from like-minded friends, industrialists in the area and crowd fund this campaign through social media, so that children who come to school have enough notebooks to write on and learn,” said Shraddha Shringarpure, CEO of a non-profit Diganta Swaraj Foundation, which runs this annual special drive.
“This year we distributed notebooks to about 2,500 children. We gave each child in classes one and two, three copies each. Those in classes three and four got five copies each, and students of class five received 12 copies each. Each copy costs us Rs 20,” said Shringarpure. According to her, these notebooks served the children for a year. Since the Foundation began, we have distributed about 330,000 notebooks, she said.
The notebooks are making a difference in the education of tribal students. “Without notebooks, we are not able to give the children any homework or do any written classwork either. The children quickly lose interest if written work is not there,” Khernar Gorakh Pundik, teacher at the zilla parishad (district administration) school in Girnar, Igatpuri in Nashik district, told Gaon Connection.
Pundik has been teaching in the school that has classes till seventh and 165 children and eight teachers.
“Without the help of notebooks for our predominantly tribal children, we would have made little progress. But now the children have that enthusiasm to come to class. Getting the children to write something once is a lot more effective than just asking them to read something twice,” the teacher pointed out.
Notebook Donation drive that started from Mokhada in Palghar district has not spread to schools in Nashik district too. “We started distributing notebooks in Mokhada where 66 per cent of the people are below the poverty line,” Shringarpure told Gaon Connection. Similar work has now started in Nasik district too.
The government provides midday meals, uniforms and textbooks, but no notebooks that are crucial for proper learning and teaching to take place, she pointed out.
According to her, most of the time the parents of these children cannot afford to buy notebooks for their kids. For the children who do attend school, it is more for the midday meal they get there than any learning.
“Most of the children in these areas come to school only because there is a midday meal that is provided to them. They come from very poor adivasi families, who are either farm labourers or daily wage labourers,” said Shringarpure.
The CEO of the non-profit regretted that this time there was a shortage of funds and only 20,000 copies have been distributed so far. “We could raise only about two lakh rupees this year. As a result of which we could distribute copies only in Mokhada and nowhere else,” she said. Usually, Diganta Swaraj Foundation is able to raise as much as ten lakh rupees (Rs one million), she said.
Gaudke Dattu Vishnu, a teacher at the Zilla Parishad School in Bhendichapada village in Mokhada, said that there were 46 children and two teachers in his school. “Most of the children come from very poor families, a majority of them from tribal communities. Some of them are so poor that they cannot afford to buy notebooks. And, their parents are unlettered and do not see how notebooks can be so important in their wards’ education,” Vishnu told Gaon Connection.
“But, the children have responded so well to the fact that they have notebooks. Their attendance has gone up too,” the happy teacher added.
According to Shringarpure, the fundraising has slowed down post COVID-19 pandemic. “I am hoping notebooks are provided to these children. Not just through our Foundation, but in any way possible. Individuals, corporates and even government organisations could ensure that the supply of notebooks never dried up,” she said.