Project Hope 2

Foundation has set up a computer lab at a mobile school for children and adult literacy for Van Gujjars at Mohand, near Saharanpur catering to Van Gujjar Community. The school is being run by a Dehradun based NGO – Rural Litigation and Entitlement Kendra (RLEK).

Van Gujjars are an ethnic minority, deriving their livelihood solely from the sale of buffalo milk. Their nomadic lifestyle serves as a breather to the forests, making them the true conservationists and protectors of the forest. However, illiteracy made the community vulnerable to manipulation, extortion and harassment. Rural Litigation and Entitlement Kendra with the support of the Ministry of Human Resource Development started the Adult Education Programme for the community in October 1993. The model is being self-sustained with continuous support of individuals and the community. The uniqueness of the program lies in community participation and holding of classes under the canopy of trees by barefoot teachers. A school for children has also been set up.

The first generation of Van Gujjar community is still receiving the formal education. Nearly ten children so far have appeared for their class tenth exams through open schooling. The effort is to enable Van Gujjar children to qualify the 10+2 board and either get into employment and other income generation activities.

Computers are being used for skill enhancement training and acquiring new learning methods through technology tools. The computer based training material donated by the Foundation, is found to be attractive which has brought new excitement amongst the community. Computer literacy and access to Internet has opened new horizons and created fresh opportunities of learning for the Gujjar community. This has also led them to acknowledge the importance of education and Demand for the Right to Education for their children.

In February 2009, about 15 children and 20 adults belonging to Van Gujjar community, along with 5 teachers, were invited for an educational training and interaction with dignitaries educationist like Prof Deepak B Phatak, Indian Institute of Technology – Bombay, Mumbai; and, Prof H Krishnamurthy, Principal Research Scientist, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. In addition the community interacted with Mr Wajahat Habibullah, Hon’ble Chief Information Commissioner, Government of India; Mr Sam Pitroda, Chairman, National Knowledge Commission; Dr Subas Pani, Secretary, Planning Commission, Government of India; Dr Shailesh Nayak, Secretary, Earth Sciences; Mr R Chandrashekhar, Special Secretary, Department of Information Technology, Ministry of Communications and IT; Ms Jayshree Vyas, Managing Director, SEWA Bank.

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