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Vidya Kunj Bikaner




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  • 1. VIDYA KUNJ – AN INNOVATIVE SCHOOL FOR THE POOR by : Dr. T.K. Jain, Founder Promotor, Afterschoool Centre for Social Entrepreneurship Bikaner Social entrepreneurship is not about money, nor about risk taking. It is all about passions and dreams. It is for those, who have a mission in their heart and want to bring about transformation in society. Text books say that there should be a business plan, there should be plan for marketing, finance, production and human resource management and then the entrepreneur should contact funding agencies to start some social institution or organisation. However, cases like Dr. Rathore demonstrate that it all requires a mission and a zeal to achieve the mission. Adversities, social problems and social issues create a fertile ground for social entrepreneurs, who dont wait for funding agencies or venture capitalists to start. They see the issues and just start. Their actions speak and they are able to get a team with them, who also share similar mindset. This case study demonstrates how Dr. Rathore established a school for the poor. The process adopted by Dr. Rathore is not copied from any text book, but based on ground work and innovations which spontaneously emerge from the field work. I had found similar experiences in my previous researches. it is a different kind of school. It is for the children from those families are very – very poor. Located in Shiv Colony (Bikaner) where mostly labourers and daily wage earners have settled down. Most of the people in the area are illiterate and belong to lower class. The other nearby areas are : Ambedkar colony, Harizan Basti, Shiv Bari. In an area, where most of the residents are illiterate, Dr. N.S. Rathore is making pioneering efforts by starting a school. It is not just a school, but a mission for Dr. Rathore. He believes that education is the most powerful tool in the hands of poor persons to change their destiny. He is determined to see his dreams come true. He is passionate for this and goes from home to home to collect his students History : It was started in 2002 by Prof. N.S. Rathore – a Professor of economics. Initially it was started in a small rented place – which was earlier a poultry farm. Dr. Rathore – converted the cabins into a make shift class rooms. From his savings of Rs. 10000, he started the school. Whatever savings he had – he would use that for the development of school. The philosophy of the founder was to give the poor students an opportunity to have good education. He tried to motivate the students to get education and go for higher learning. He used to narrate success stories of persons like Abdul Kalam to the students. The students were from poor family background and their parents were labourers or daily wage earners. Dr. Rathore was the first person to motivate these students for education. In 2004, he purchased the same building where the school was running – he then started construction of one room every year. His philosophy was to construct low cost building. He himself devised low cost construction technique and therefore the cost of construction of one room was very low (About Rs. 30000). Thus he was able to expand the school. Now the school has 13 class rooms. In 2007-8 – Dr. Rathore purchased another piece of
  • 2. land adjoining the school. Now he borrowed some more money in his personal account and started construction of a well designed building – now he has 6 well designed class rooms. Now he is going for expansion plans. In 2005-6, he took affiliation for class VIII from Rajasthan Education Board – and in 2008-9 he took affiliation for class X from Rajasthan Board of Secondary Education. There were a number of problems in the beginning – the founder recalls that it was difficult to pay the rent even. He got the furniture made for the students. He had difficulties in arranging funds for payment to the teachers. As the prime objective of the school was to help poor students, the fee was very low. The initial fee was Rs. 50 per month – and there were only 7 students in the beginning. The founder really had no budget – he had a dream and wanted to go for that dream. His only mission was to start the school. He started it. The founder was prepared to pay from his pocket and he continues to do it. There were a number of colleagues – who helped the founder in getting some projects. One of his colleagues provided him with a UNICEF project – which was undertaken in the school. Thus the beginning was made. He went door to door for getting his first group of students. Firstly, people were not motivation for education as such. Second, People didnt trust him. He recalls comments of one parent : “It is good to meet you – but what will happen if you run away and your school is closed down – we will wait for 5 – 7 years – if you stay then only we will be able to trust you and the school.” But now it is a success story. Dr. Rahtore recalls plenty of complements that he receives for his school. Mr. Kan Singh (an Ex – Army Officer and a person who himself is running a good school) told after visiting the school : , “I would like to get my own children admitted in this school rather than in my own school”. Dr. Rathore got support from his friends, colleagues and well wishers in this noble cause. His colleague Mr. M.R. Khatri (a well known professor of English language) used to come in the evening to motivate the students. His colleague Mr. Manish Tanwar made a website of his school. Everyone who saw his efforts, appreciated it and wanted to help him. Noble cause and team work always give the reward. The school had started with only 7 students and by the year end (1st year), the school was able to have a strength of 35 students. Today it has 270 students. It is not just a quantitative growth, it is fundamentally a quality oriented school and is constantly receiving complements from people for its quality. Parent of a girl child came and said: “I have now realized that this is how a school should be run and this is how the school can help the society” BACKGROUND OF THE STUDENTS: Dr. Rathore says : “I personally go to the homes of each students and ask their parents to send the student to the school.. Most of the people in the locality recognise me as a passionate academician and recognise me as a person who is not going to permit a student to enjoy holidays.”
  • 3. 95% of the parents of the students are illiterate and therefore convincing them is not an easy task. Students cant get any environment of education at their homes. In a typical school, the teachers give home work and assignments to the students and expect the students to complete it and present it the next day. As per Dr. Rathore, the only way to ensure that the students complete their home work or self study is by inviting these students to the school again in the evening so that they may complete their work. When a student is irregular, Dr. Rathore visits the home of the student and requests the parents to send the student regularly. Dr. Rathore recalls an interaction with one of the parents : “I start from my home at 7Am and reach back at home at 8 PM. I don’t bother about my son and I don’t have time for him.I have no idea of what he is being doing” Dr. Rathore therefore believes in going from home to home. If a student doesn’t come to class for a few days, Dr. Rathore will himself go to the home of that student and would bring that student to the class. In the evening there are special free coaching classes for these poor students – (from 4.30 to 8.30 PM). He along with his family contributed substantially to the development of the school. Renu Rathore – joined this school (daughter of Mr. Girdhari Singh – who is practically illiterate and is working as a chowkidar) – joined the school and scores above 80% marks every year inspite of helping her mother in animal husbandary. Mr. Surendra Singh (a son of a chowkidar) joined this school and got 92% marks in Rajasthan Board and missed the merit by a small margin inspite of involvement in other activities. TEACHING PEDAGOGY INNOVATIONS AND SCHOOL CULTURE For Dr. Rathore, his students are his first priority. He claims that he forgets names of his friends and relatives, but he remembers names of each of his 270 students. He would daily interact with the students in a jovial manner and would ensure to give them a positive feedback, so that they have a reason to come to the school. In order to cultivate a mental framework for teamwork, Dr. Rathore encourages the students to participate in student organised unions. There are student houses and a Students Union. These are managed purely by students. It is a totally students managed systems – there are 4 houses – 1. Swasthya 2. Paryavaran 3. Jal 4. Prithvi The house which is on duty – will manage every thing – The duties of the houses are: 1. Arranging the assembly of the students 2. Check the uniform of students 3. Commanding the assembly These houses give students to the learning to work in a team and to work in a disciplined setting. Even a student of class III would undertakes commanding activity one day. Every student gets a chance to command the entire school in the assembly. Every Saturday the
  • 4. school conducts GK competition or Dictation competition. There is also a shruti lekh competition. The student get prize on Monday. The students are given a pencil and a pen as a token prize. Last day of every month, there is a meeting of student union. The union invites teachers as observers. The decision of the union is implemented in the same month. There are two special functions – 26 January and 15 August – on this occasion parents are invited to the function. These functions are totally conducted by the students. A teacher has no say in these functions. Anchoring is done by class 4, 5, 6 students and they manage it to the last. The entire management of these events is looked after by the students. The anchors (students) only give an announcement at the time of these functions that every person should stay till the last and should not leave the function in between. Dr. Rathore recalls one incident which shows the level of student empowerment in the school - “a new student called another student as KALIA. Immediate there was a problem – he had to apologise in the assembl, and it was all managed by the students. “ “Students conduct plays / dramas – the students sometimes forget their dialogue – but they manage it well as the audience would never come to know about the fumble by the students. Students will spontaneously cook up the dialogues.” “One child leaves our school at 2PM. Then he works in a nearby shop for openign jute bags. He works with his mother there and earns about 15 rupees daily He then again comes in our school in the evening to take our guidance. He is one of the toppers in his class in spite of the work that he is doing.” “You come and throw your toffee wrapper in any corner of the school – and you will find that some or the other student from some class come and pick up the wrapper and put it in dust bin. If you spit in any corner in a school – some student will “students are from poor families and there for they have to share their resources. Typically in a class one or two students are able to bring sharpner or eraser. They share with all the students in the class. The students consider it their right to share their resources and ask others to share their resources. The students use innovative methods to use their resources. If their pencil is reduced, the students will attach it with some old ball pen cover and use it for writing. The students don’t throw away their ball pen / pencils / paper – as with other students. HOME WORK In India, homework is a big headache for most parents. Typically homework is the responsbility of parents. Most parends appoint private tutors to help their children in their homework. But in the case of Vidya Kunj – there is a different concept. There are free evening coaching classes, where students can come and finish their homework and take guidance from Dr. Rathore. Every day about 100 students come to evening coaching classes and help each other and take guidance from Dr. Rathore. For the students, the guiding parents is only one – Dr. Rathore (as the parents of the students are illiterate and not able to guide them).
  • 5. EXAMINATION SYSTEM : The school takes 5 examinations in a year. It is conducted on very systematic like (like Board Examination). The students have to search out their seating arrangement. This creates seriousness among students about examinations. STUDENT – PARENTS RELATIONS Dr. Rathore encourages every student to respect parents and elders at home. “After completing class VIII from our school, One student is looking after his father’s business of iron smith business.” Said . Dr. Rathore about past students. “Once mother of Shravan Jat came to me – and complained that Shravan has become lazy and is not able tohelp her in her household work. I told her to give suitable instruction to the child the mother replied that Shravan doesn’t obey her but obeys me only I agreed and next day asked Shravan to follow his mother and help his mother in the house-hold work. Shravan immediately followed my instructions and thereafter he has never dis-obeyed his mother. He now looks after all his home related activities .” Since all the students are coming from poor families – they have to help their parents in earning money also. All the students do some or other activities which raise economic standard of their family – some work in fields, some work in gardens. “ there is a student of class UKG – who helps her mother in making papad”. “Shravan Jat is my student from the beginning. He is now in class VII. He gets up at 4 AM. First he distributes newspapers in the nearby vicinity. They he returns back to home to help his mother in milching cows. Then he goes to distribute milk and then he comes to school. He is always punctual with all such activities. In 2006-7 his students appeared in board examination (Class VIII) and it was a moment of tension for Dr. Rathore. There were 16 students and Dr. Rathore used to spend 4 hours daily with these students. Since all these students were from poor family background and no facility at their home – Dr. Rathore – had to ensure that his school was supporting place. Once the students would go to their home - they would not be able to touch their books at home – because there was no educational environment. He was surprised to see the results. Out of 16 students, 15 got first division and one got good second division. He was very happy to see the results.” In the next year, there were 15 students and the result was equally attractive – 100% results again. The highest percentage marks this year touched the figure 92% marks. His efforts brought good results. He was motivated to pursue his efforts further. He continued to motivate the students with the same zeal and due to constant motivation, the results are also encouraging. It is a school, where there is every day some motivation for students. Dr. Rathore recalls “We give best academic performance based awards (two awards per class). Award distribution ceremony is organised every year on 26 January. The student undertake rehersal of every function that they are going to conduct. The students try to manage the shows in well organised manner.” “There are two pin boards in each class room. The students try to put some or other notice / poster / news clippings etc. on the board.”
  • 6. Teaching poor children required innovation and Dr. Rathore has been trying for innovations at every step. One such innovation is teaching through songs. “my child sings songs at my home – for each word there are songs and he sings the songs” Similarly, there are innovations for teaching students from higher classes. “Class VIII students prepared all the formula of mathematics and physics on their class board and would memorise whenever they get a chance.” All the students even from class nursery have to sing songs based on alphabets on the stage. Entire teaching upto class 3rd is based on songs. This is an innovative application. “our students after completing VIII joined other schools, but when they came to know that we have started IX, they switched back to our school – although they had deposited their fees in other school..” recalls Dr. Rathore “three kids had taken admission somewhere else – when we got affiliation – they again returned back to our school they withdrew their admission from other (bigger) schools – we got affiliation in July – but some parents were not sure whether we would get affiliation or not. – 12 students waited for us upto July. OVERALL WORK PHILOSOPHY All the colleagues also follow the philosophy of Dr. Rathore. They would ensure that there is no wastage of electricity in school. There are many such instances of how the school tries to conserve resources. There is tremendous punctuality. For the students – 9 means exact 9. Even on their functions on any occasion - they would ensure that there is highest level of punctuality. Comparing other schools Dr. Rathore says : “the plus point here is that we have students who are very disciplined and punctual – you ask them to come at 5AM and they will come at sharp 5 AM.” discipline, order and commitment to perfection are the basic values at Vidya Kunj. “Our students go to Shivbari school for their annual board examination – they go in a line – (walking for 1.5 KM). All the students go for their examination in their uniform. They organise self managed queue. The examination starts at 11.30 Am. They reach our school at 8 AM and organise their queue and then leave for their examination centre at 10.30 am. They go from the school to Shivbari Temple and then return back in similar discipline.” says Dr. Rathore : “my basic philosophy is if you do something – do it in the best way.” FUTURE PLANS : Dr. Rathore was very pleased to share his dreams. He has lots of dreams about the school, but a few are shared herewith: “I want to organise a fashion shows by 2010 – where the students of the school will be wearing the dress made by the students of this school - I want to start some technical / vocational courses – where these students can be trained.” “I want to start NCC in my school and I wish to start it next year.... This year I invited a Soil conservationist as chief guest – he announced that he would like to give honorary services to this school and is very much interested in this school. He promised to devote
  • 7. every day 2 hours to the school.. . . . the evening classes are informal classes – children can come in their informal dress. One of my student Mr. Sandeep Papriwal came to see my school and he was extremely impressed by the school – and donated Rs. 21000 for the school. One NRI who saw the school and our social commitments – decided to donate Rs. 1 lakh for the development of the school” “ It is a sheer madness which is driving me for the performance. My relatives are dissatisfied with me – but only I like it.” Admits Dr. Ratore “Now we are charging Rs. 100 per month. There is no admission fees. We don’t charge even a penny from the student for any other purpose. We don’t ask students for any other fees or other charges. We try to bear all other expenses from our pocket.” “From 2004 to 2006, I was appointed as Director of an MBA Colllege. But due to involvmenet with a business school, I couldn’t devote much time to the school. Therefore I decided to resign from the Business School and again started devoting time to the school. I believe that during these two years, I couldn’t pay the required attention to my school and I felt that I must devote my time again to the school.”. “Now we have 270 students – all are coming from the nearby areas. All the students are from within a radius of 1 KM area. Teachers are also coming from the same area.” One of the fundamental philosophy in the teaching pedagogy of this school is to remove fear from the mind of the student. Even a student from class nursery is encouraged to face the stage and therefore the students are able to perform anchoring and are able to give public performance at a very early stage. Dr. Ratore recalls “Once my frind Mr. Amod had come to see me. I was distributing toffees to the students. He was surprised to see our set up. We were doing a dance contest in a class room (on dari). He asked how will you manage this contest in a small class room. Students started dancing contest - they swithched on mike (and then they switched on the tape recorder and they they showed their performance – my friend was amazed to see the confidence and performance of the students. He said that his kids (who are studying in a very prestigious school) cant have so much of confidence in their expression.” The founder can be contacted at :