We heartily congratulate Anil Dodiyar, a former student from the Shri Chunilal Vij AIM for Seva Chatralayam for Boys in Rohtak, Haryana, who has secured a rank of 3912 in the IIT JEE exam (2019). He has secured admission in the Bachelors of Technology (Information Technology) course at the National Institute of Technology, Kurukshetra.
What is interesting is that he was coached by Dinesh Thakur, an alumnus of our Chatralayam in Solan, who is now pursuing his Bachelors in Dental Surgery from Indira Gandhi Medical College, Shimla.
While interventions like Chatralayams (many of which are located in the last mile) have helped in providing access to education to children from rural India, we are trying to bridge the last mile gap through other ways too.
The coordinators of our Chatralayams across India do their best to provide our students with a balance of education, nutrition and all other facilities that can help them realise their potential. To this end, they have to come up with innovative bespoke solutions that address shortfalls in infrastructure or facilities.
Acharya Nawneet ji, the coordinator of the Shri Chunilal Vij AIM for Seva Chatralayam for Boys in Rohtak, Haryana, shares his experience of how he uses technology to bridge gaps in time and distance.
“Many of our students need help with their subjects, especially math and science. For this, I hired external tutors who would conduct math or science sessions (for different age groups) a couple of times a week,” Acharya Nawneet ji says. However, when the tutors travelled for holidays or had added work pressure, they found it hard to commit to the scheduled time. This, in turn, meant that the students’ routine was interrupted and that they were finding it hard to sustain their progress.
“It was difficult to press our external tutors to keep up to the given time every week. So, I reached out to some of our alumni, who are now working in other parts of Madhya Pradesh and the National Capital Region (NCR). They readily took on the role of becoming tutors to our current students, and are dedicated to keeping up their commitment—especially since I asked them to! We have a strong bond, and they are always ready to give back to the Chatralayam in any way they can,” says Acharya Nawneet ji.
It was also easy for the alumni to create a strong bond with the current students, given their shared experience of life at the Chatralayam. The tutors try and go in person at least once a month to assess the students’ progress. At other times, they conduct the lessons over Skype or phone (with their voices amplified via a Bluetooth speaker).
To date, they have not missed a single class as per the schedule. “Even when they travel for work or for holidays, they carry their laptops along. They send weekly test papers by email or WhatsApp, and we have to send back the boys’ answers to them. They check them and point out where they need help,” says Acharya Nawneet ji. This system has been implement across our Chatralayams in Rohtak, Hoshangabad and Ghaziabad.
Thanks to these efforts, the students are improving in their schoolwork and their grades. More importantly, this is an example of how technology can be harnessed to create a positive support network.
Apart from receiving tutoring through technology like Skype, the presence of natural and serene environment in the formative years also results in our hostelers bringing out their academic best. At the Rohtak Chatralayam from where Anil did his schooling, the students are encouraged to tend to the kitchen garden located in the hostel premises every single day.
With many of our boys coming from agricultural families, the best way to retain to the roots are kitchen gardens. The organic farm was started shortly after the construction of the Chatralayam. “The most significant effect this system has had on our boys –apart from exposing them to a sustainable model of living—is the very fact that they handle life in an ecosystem and, therefore, they grow to become responsible individuals. They tend to the garden everyday and watch our plants grow and decay. This touches them emotionally, and more so, it soothes them. Additionally, it keeps them pre occupied and adds immense beauty to our homes,” says Acharya Nawneet ji.