25 years of Ekal: Reaching the Unreached
Education has an important role to play in India’s growth story. But even after 68 years of independence there is much that needs to be done in this sector to accelerate the growth story further. In line with this view, and inspired by Swami Vivekanand’s view that “If poor children cannot come to school, education must go to them”, Ekal schools are doing a great job in empowering Bharat through eradicating illiteracy in rural and tribal areas.
Passing through various hardships and phases, Ekal movement has matured over time and the efforts initiated by a small group has today grown into a big family. The Ek shikshak, Ek Vidyalaya idea that initiated the Ekal movement has proved that the purpose of a school is not just to impart bookish knowledge, but they also can serve as a centre for imparting health awareness, eradicating superstition, and inculcating good moral values.
This year holds great significance for Ekal movement as it has completed a successful tenure of 25 years. Celebrating the transformation Ekal schools have initiated across India, a three day event ‘Parinaam Kumbh’ was organised at Golf Ground, Dhanbad in the first week of March. It is estimated that over 50,000 Ekal karyakartas from all over India and overseas like America, Australia, Nepal, Canada, Germany, New Zealand and Dubai
gathered for the event.
The seed of Ekal Vidyalaya germinated at Ratanpur village under Tundi block of Dhanbad. From here it spread across the world and now it’s become India’s largest non-governmental education initative. The idea of Ek Shikshak, Ek Vidyalaya (One Teacher School) was suggested by Late Shri Bhao Rao Devras to Late Shri Madan Lal Agarwal in the year 1986 who established about 60 schools near Dhanbad. Dr Rakesh Popli (a USA-returned nuclear scientist) and his wife Rama Popli (a child education expert) inspired by Swami Vivekananda and the concept of Late Shri Bhao Rao Devras polished the concept of ‘One Teacher School’ and set up Ekal Vidyalaya for the tribes of Gumla in Jharkhand.
Global coordinator of Ekal, Ramesh P Shah was in India to celebrate 25 years of Ekal in Dhanbad. During his visit, Shah shared his experience with Organiser after joining Ekal.
In 1999, I was in India and somehow I got a chance to visit Ekal Vidyalaya in Gujarat and then in Andhra Pradesh and Kerela. I got motivated by their work and decided to join Ekal. Now it’s been 15 years with Ekal. I am feeling blessed being part of it.
We provide books, blackboard, copies, charts, and many more articles essential for study. But we are planning to do much more to ensure better future for Ekal students. We are also trying to provide smart classes to the students. We have started it as an experiment in 30 schools; let’s hope for best. Soon we’ll be able to start it in all the Ekal schools. While we have accomplished much, a lot needs to be done in future.
In coming one year, we are planning to open 5,000 new Ekal Schools but everything depends on how much fund we are able to generate. We don’t want to compromise on quality. We will try our best to achieve our goal. We are also working on making Ekal more efficient. Even Afghanistan contacted us to open Ekal Vidyalaya there.
We generate maximum funds from America. Actually I must say that 25 per cent of fund comes from America.
I spend 6 months in India and visit already established Ekal schools. Other than this I look for places across India where schools are
Apart from education, hygiene and sanitation activities, organic manure promotion, awareness and cultural programmes are a significant part of Ekal curriculum.
To mainstream India’s growth story, and to involve the marginalised and underprivileged students in nations development. Ekal’s goal is to reach the unreached.
Earlier they felt suppressed but now they are confident. Today they have the confidence to do anything. The impact the Ekal schools have had in the lives of rural and tribal children has been immense and I hope the light of education continue to enlighten their lives.
From a small beginning with just 10 schools, it has established 55,016 schools from Kashmir to Kanyakumari in 25 years. With over 1.6 million rural students, Ekal mainly follows five point agenda: Children’s education, health education, awareness about local issues, village development and moral development. The schools are run for three hours every day and the timings are adjusted to local needs. Ekal schools usually are run under a tree or a small hut offered by the local people. The curriculum is tailored to develop self-confidence and to help students succeed in rural occupations and pursue higher education. Through Ekal, villagers are taught preventive healthcare and hygiene. It also promotes organic farming methods among farmers to ensure profitable farming. It plays an important role in eradicating untouchability and promoting social harmony among village and community members. All in all, the Ekal movement has inspired and motivated students from rural and tribal areas to be a significant part of India’s progress.
Ekal is going great
The Ekal movement has succeeded in establishing India’s growth story to its villages. Tribal boys and girls are now confident to compete with the mainstream. And this change was vividly reflected during the ‘Parinaam Kumbh’.
Nishant Kr Azad