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Project Background

PeAk is a small organisation striving to advance primary school education, implement solar lighting (150 homes) and wood efficient stoves (37 homes) in the Kumaon region, India. In 2015/16 PeAk, funded by World Nomads customers through the Footprints Network, continued with the objectives to improve the quality of educational delivery via a community teacher, resource acquisition and adding to experiential learning tools in the form of two digital cameras.

This was a multi-faceted undertaking that built upon prior projects to reach the desired outcomes. The ‘library’ provides a positive child centred learning environment catering to approximately 45 children with classes that are kept small and intimate to improve the educational experience. The continued functioning of this space is aided by the employment of a community teacher who is paramount for effective educational delivery.

Bublee & Dipiya comparing their pencil cases (Jatoli school)

Project Details

A small proportion of funds went into the servicing and repair of community electronic equipment. The servicing of the printer (apparently -10C temperatures clog ink jets) was important as it is utilised for public work proposals, applications for Below Poverty Line (BPL) & National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) cards etc.  by the Panchayat (Council) and the wider community, all of whom benefit from not having to travel to the nearest ‘service town’ for printing jobs.  One of the two library computers had a defective screen that was just out of warranty (typical). This meant battling with one computer which was untenable given the demand, so it was deemed mandatory to replace the screen for the continuation of computer literacy classes.

The funds also provided additional educational resources for the library, the purchase of two digital cameras and the provision of a year’s supply of educational materials (backpack, exercise books, pen, pencils etc.) to the primary school students from Jatoli and Ritang. There were no issues with attendance (in fact the kid’s line up outside the library on sub-zero mornings!) and, as noted previously, the provision of educational materials for girls enhances attendance throughout the academic year.

Class three girls working on their masterpieces

The introduction of two digital cameras into the classroom and community was a major success with the children and adults alike learning a new skill set way beyond our own understanding. The keenness and aptitude to all forms of technology ensured that the development of this skill base will be built upon into the future. And while the intention is to get the children to focus on the world around them,  the culture of taking ‘selfies’ manifested itself in the first few hours! An unforeseen use of digital technology was for thumbnail size photos for the community used towards applications of various welfare cards.

The majority of goods (with the exception of digital cameras/new computer screen) were purchased in Almora and Bageshwar thereby helping the local economy. Mr Karmayal of ‘Karmayal Bookstore’ (Bageshwar) has streamlined this process for PeAk by going that ‘extra mile’ in ordering and ensuring we have good quality educational materials. The logistics of delivering goods from Almora/Bageshwar via jeep and then mule to Khati & Jatoli entail an arduous journey, this was simplified by the abnormally warm Himalayan winter that saw trails open throughout the duration of the project period.

This project was a resounding success. The combination of a community teacher, digital technology and school/library resources underscored the importance of continued education in the region, all of which provide important gateways to learning and employment outside the valley.

Rohit & Dipiya booting up the computers for a lesson (Khati)

Key Project Outcomes

  • Delivered a 12 month supply of educational resources which included: school daypacks, exercise books, pencil cases, pens, pencils etc. for 15 primary school & 6 Balwari (kindergarten) children at Jatoli school, 3 ‘kits’ for Jatoli High School students in Khati and 7 for children from the hamlet of Ritang enrolled at Batang Primary school and provision of extra resources to four Nepali itinerant workers' children whom are outside of the formal education system. 
  • The employment of a community teacher brings new skills and ideas into the library. This improves attendance rates and educational outcomes through the Himalayan Winter/Spring when the government school is in recess. However, when the government school is open, the Library functions outside of these hours depending on the academic cycle.
  • The Khati ‘library’ with 45 kids gained additional educational & culturally appropriate resources. It is envisioned that these materials will be in use for years to come. 
  • Supplied intellectually stimulating materials (word games) and outdoor equipment (badminton bats, skittles, skipping ropes etc.) that enable the continuation of a fun, engaging and child centred educational facility designed for school children in the region. This equipment enhances long term educational outcomes.
  • The purchase of two TG 860 ‘Olympus Tough’ cameras saw the children displaying both an eagerness and aptitude for photography. The cameras strengthen and support ongoing digital education both in and outside the classroom. They enable the children to capture snapshots of their culture & village life. This skill base will continue to be enhanced into the future.
  • Laptop screen replacement (black spot inking) on one of the HP library computers enabled the continuation of computer literacy classes. Engaging with technology is deemed a necessary skill set to engage with 21st century India.
  • The Epson L210 printer purchased previously required repairs/servicing. The requisite repairs enable continued use for both library students and for the community of Khati, the Panchayat (Council) and villagers from surrounding areas.

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