Despite several years of school attendance, children from rural families in underdeveloped and economically weak areas of Jhagadia fall below academic and developmental standards. Although children attend government-run schools, they perform below standards in reading and writing. Teacher shortages, poor infrastructure, and lack of parental motivation contribute to students’ low performances.
Sharada Mahila Vikas Society (SMVS), with the help of funding from IDS, addresses child development in underdeveloped and economically weak areas of this region. Their mission is to elevate the quality of education in the community by providing supplementary teaching to its children. SMVS believes creating general awareness, developing, and improving creative, social, and life skills are vital for overall child development.
Children in the community receive coaching to ensure fluency in reading and writing. In addition to the academic subjects, children are taught the importance of developing a helping attitude toward their parents and to sew buttons and draw, which contributes to their self-sufficiency. SMVS members meet regularly with parents to educate them on the importance of their involvement in and support of their children’s education. By encouraging regular class attendance, parents can then share in their children’s successful educational outcomes.
To date, not a single child has dropped out of class. As of December 2013, there was a 54% increase in the education status of children, and 60% of the students matched school reading and writing standards. Feedback from students and parents has been positive. One student told the following story:
“After attending the moral value classes and listening to the stories of Swami Vivekananda’s life I have become more sensitive, serious and a responsible person. I have become ‘Gambhir.’ When my teacher asked about the meaning of ‘Gambhir’ I told her that earlier I used to enjoy throwing stones into the water ditch and spray mud on others. When I come back from school, I used to throw my schoolbag and run off with my friends to play, in spite of my mother calling me to help her with some small chores. After learning from the books of Swami Vivekananda, I do not do such things. Instead, I help my mother fill pots of water as well as buy groceries from the market.”
A parent shared the following:
“My child has learned many life skills at SMVS along with the academic studies. For example, my son is able to stitch buttons on his clothes whenever needed without my intervention. He is sensitive to the situation around him and helps out in whichever way possible for a boy his age.”