Project Hope 1

Skoch Development Foundation, keeping in mind the inclusion objective, has adopted a school – Ane Moriam – in a remote village called Sangram in Arunachal Pradesh that borders with China. Sangram is geographically challenged and is connected only by road distance of about 40 hours from Guwahati. Inhabited by tribals, living on a subsistence economy, having no formal means of communication, Ane Moriam is attended by about 360 children. The dropout rate was so high that only about 10 students remain who pass out the 8th Standard, that too mostly boys.

The Foundation set up a computer lab with its own resources. The objective was to encourage students to adopt a new medium so that they remain motivated and take interest in studies. The computer lab soon had V-Sat connectivity, opening up a whole new world to children in the school.

As a result of the intervention over a period of time, the dropout rate reduced and attendance improved. The school had more girl children as new enrollments. The net effect was improved accessibility to education and digital learning. It also socially included the community in order to ensure that more and more students qualify the Senior Secondary School examination to become part of the national mainstream.

Twenty children from the school from 7th to 9th standard (mostly girls), led by their Headmaster Brother Louis and two senior teachers, were invited during the third week of October 2008 to Delhi for a study tour. This included visiting historical sites in Delhi and Agra and interactions with experts.  They were invited by Mr Wajahat Habibullah, Hon’ble Chief Information Commissioner for an interaction to learn about the importance of Right to Information (RTI).  These children came out of Sangram for the first time and were excited to see historic places like Qutab Minar and Red Fort – which hitherto they had only seen in their text books.

They were also invited by Mr Mani Shankar Aiyar, Hon’ble Union Minister of Department for Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) and Panchayati Raj for a similar interaction learning about the third tier of governance, i.e., the Panchayati Raj Institutions. Children also shared several stories of backwardness in their society leading to bartering of girl child for food and money and that the positive impact education is bringing in the status of girl child and women particularly. Children today are found to be more aware of their social status and girls are resisting the traditional practices. Education for girls is no longer a taboo in Sangram.

The children also interacted with Dr Maxine Olson, Resident Representative, United Nations (UN), Prof N V C Menon, Hon’ble Member, National Disaster Management Authority, Ministry of Home Affairs; Ms Sudha Pillai, Secretary, Labour; and, Dr Subas Pani, Secretary, Planning Commission.

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