Agra: An experiment to
rope in activists, businessmen and educational professionals to
'adopt' - or, in other words, monitor and review the running of -
government-run primary schools promises to revamp Agra's
Launched by Agra's divisional commissioner Amrit Abhijat, the 'SAARTHI
programme' has already witnessed 50 such adoptions in the city.
The volunteers are expected to keep an eye on how various school
schemes are implemented, where the funds go, whether children get
their mid-day meals and more importantly -- how teachers behave
"We do not expect any financial support, but the people and
institutions that adopt the schools will have to pledge in writing
their involvement with the scheme," Abhijat told IANS.
"The education department will provide them feedback and data
support needed for monitoring the progress.
"The people who get involved with the programme are expected to
guide and lead a new reform movement, to share their collective
joys and experiences with children who need support, particularly
from the underprivileged classes," he added.
Under various government schemes, children in primary schools get
free uniforms, mid-day meals, textbooks and other facilities.
However, there are widespread fears that those who need support
are not being reached.
District magistrate Ajay Chauhan said "all-round development" of
children could be ensured only when society gets involved in these
Philanthropist Ashok Jain, sportsperson Har Vijay Bahia, builder
B.D. Agarwal, activists Pavan Agri, Rama Shankar Goyal, Shashi
Goyal and Vatsala Prabhakar are among the first 50 volunteers.
Scores of voluntary groups have also come forward to adopt primary
"More than 50 primary schools have been adopted by various groups
and organisations in its first phase. SAARTHI group will be on
Facebook soon," sportsperson Bahia told IANS.
A school adopted by singer Rashi Goyal two months ago has shown
Officials feel the response to the initiative has been far more
encouraging than anticipated.
"Due to lack of people's involvement, the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan
had not been able to make a significant headway. But this
initiative ensures that a large number of organisations and groups
will get involved, imparting momentum to a very timely and
momentous campaign," says social activist Shrawan Kumar Singh.
In Uttar Pradesh as in other parts too, the educational system,
particularly at the lower level, is neglected.
"You have public schools, English schools and the convents for the
well-off. On the other hand, you have lakhs of
government-supported schools for the poor and the underprivileged
where nothing seems to go well," explains Naresh Paras, belonging
to a voluntary group for children.
"In Agra alone, there are 2,400 such schools and the government
spends a billion rupees on them, without getting any positive
results," he added.
(Brij Khandelwal can be contacted at email@example.com)