RISHI VALLEY EDUCATION CENTRE (September 2011 – August ’12)
This document describes significant activities/programmes pertaining to the following constituent units of the Centre that have taken place during the reporting period:
1. Rishi Valley School
2. Rishi Valley Study Centre
3. Rishi Valley Institute for Teacher Education
4. Rishi Valley Community Mathematics Centre
5. Rishi Valley Rural Education Programme
6. Rishi Valley Rural Health Programme
7. Rishi Valley Special Area Development Programme
The rainfall has been scanty this year also. Consequently we have had to dig additional bore wells (700 ft deep) to meet the water requirements of the campus. The number of cows in the dairy has been drastically reduced as sufficient fodder could not be grown.
Rishi Valley School
We continued with the random selection process (with some modifications) that was adopted the previous year for admitting students into the school. However, subsequent to the Supreme Court ruling on the various provisions under the Right to Education Act, we are rethinking on the process to be adopted for the next academic year. We might revert back to the old process of testing and interviewing the parents.
The following teachers have joined the school this academic year: Mr Deepak Rao (Physics for classes 8 to 10) and Ms Sumeeta Das (Chemistry). The following teachers left at the end of the academic year 2011-12: Mr Saurabh Kapoor (Computer Science) and Ms Anita Nair (Chemistry) and Mr Mathew (Physics).
The programme of our teachers providing help to the local government high school has continued. Teachers took classes every week or provided help to the teachers of the school. Activities such as music and arts & crafts have also also been offered. The performance of these students in the Board exams has significantly improved.
Students across the classes have continued to be involved in doing field work such as clearing water channels, waste management including composting, and weeding agricultural land. Tree planting and other similar work unfortunately could not be undertaken due to a lack of rain. However seeds were dibbled on the land acquired for creating a Biodiversity Park.
We have continued with the dialogues once a month amongst small groups of teachers and all the students of classes 11 and 12. A short passage of text (from Krishnamurti's work or other sources) is read together and discussed for an hour to an hour and a half.
The well-known social activist and documentary film maker, Anand Patwardhan, was invited to deliver the first Professor D. U. Shastri Memorial Lecture in January. Anand Patwardhan screened his latest film ‘Jai Bhim Comrade’, and anchored the discussion on dalit issues that followed. With the help of clips from his earlier films, he also presented an overview of various problems the country faces (at a separate session and to a smaller group).
The highlight of the orientation programme for teachers in June was a presentation by the senior teachers of the Brindavan Special School in Bangalore on identifying and addressing the needs of children with specific learning difficulties. Even though their exposition focused on children with special needs, the overall approach has wider relevance for teachers, as it emphasises the need to analyse the requirements of every student.
The General Studies course for Class XI students maintains, as its focus, a meaningful examination of environmental and social challenges facing society at large and the Valley in particular. The course is typically a combination of trying to understand the various dimensions of the issue being examined through readings and discussion and some hands on work to understand the local context of a given issue. In the academic year 2012-2013, the students are examining the various aspects of water as a resource. This will include sources of water, current status of global, national and local water resources, challenges facing water management, consumption including rural and urban water supply and sanitation, prospect of "water wars" as a result of the degradation of water resources and finally examining a framework of possible solutions. Hands on work will include understanding the water issues in the Valley and attempting to develop simple solutions to manage water resources sustainably on campus and in the Valley.
The Field Work programme on campus has resumed in July with tree planting and seed dibbling on the land earmarked for a Biodiversity Park. It has been possible to do this because of light but fairly frequent showers in July. It is also planned to update the existing map of the campus to include all significant natural and man-made features. This will facilitate the creation of a framework for a sustainable campus, discussions towards which have also begun under the following heads: land use, flora and vegetation, water, energy, waste management, buildings, food and lifestyle.
In July there was a week-long demonstration and mini workshop of the Ettikoppaka tradition of wood-based craft and the preparation and use of natural dyes in this tradition. For both the school and the REC it was a remarkable experience to witness the artistry and the ingenuity involved, and the dedication of the crafts people. We hope to incorporate some of this work in the Arts and Crafts Department.
Rishi Valley Study Centre
The Study Centre continues to edit the Bulletin.
A booklet on Krishnaji’s teachings was produced for the Alumnae Meet in November 2011
Alumnae from the Pearce era performed a tableau on Krishnaji in January 2012.
Shri Hanumanth Rao is translating ‘First and Last Freedom’ into Sanskrit.
Sunday discussions continue with some students in attendance.
Overnight visitors to the Study Centre have been restricted due to the shortage of water. However, there are a number of daytime visitors, many of them parents, who watch videos etc.
The Madanapalle Study Centre draws a larger audience, especially from among the younger teachers of the newly opened schools.
Admission meetings were held at the Study Centre this year. A video clip on right education from a talk of Krishnaji’s at Saanen, was shown to parents and it was followed by discussions on the subject.
Rishi Valley Institute for Teacher Education (RVITE)
The Hindi Ki Duniya publication project
The project is now drawing to a close. A series of 5 textbooks and 5 workbooks for teaching Hindi as a second language at class 1 to 5 level were prepared and the manuscripts are with Orient Blackswan. In addition, studio recordings for 5 CDs, one to accompany each book, were completed and delivered. Two bi-lingual teachers guides (one for classes 1 and 2 and one for classes 3 and 4) were also completed and sent to the publishers.
The publishers intend to bring out the series, along with accompanying posters as teaching aids, by September-October. They will require Chandrika Mathur's help for launching the series of books in Southern and North-eastern states as well as assistance in training someone to conduct workshops around its pedagogy. Otherwise all further work of colouring the books, cover design, publishing, marketing, distribution etc is in their hands.
The middle school Science curriculum and materials project for REC
The project is approaching its penultimate stages. All materials for class 6 have been prepared and tested by Kavita Krishna in the REC classrooms over last year. The students' and teachers' response to these was very encouraging. Feedback from this process is being incorporated into the materials, after which the English version will also be finalized. Meanwhile class 7 materials in English and Telugu are also nearing completion; and they are currently being tested with same students in class 7. The REC science teacher is independently using the class 6 material with a new batch of students.
What remains to be completed is two final units in class 7, their translation and then the drawings and layout of all the remaining units for class 7. The next step will be to work on the teachers' guides for each unit. This is seen to be a crucial component of the programme, for this will help in its being used in the classroom accordance with its objectives by teachers other than the material developer.
The MOU for the 5-year collaborative project between RVEC (KFI) and Azim Premji Foundation
The MOU for developing a Teacher Education programme has been finalized and approved by the KFI, having gone through all the due processes of KFI. Much of last year was devoted to periodic discussions with APF personnel on the scope, modus operandi and responsibilities of each organization in the project. A consensus has been reached on this, with APF agreeing to financially support the entire project, with specific commitments made for the Development Phase (of 2 years), including a suitable compensation to RVEC for seconding its personnel to lead the project. On the APF side, new leadership (N. Venu, ex-CFL) has taken over and they are keen to now move ahead with the first stage of the Development Phase.
Community Mathematics Centre
Workshop held by Vigyan Prasar
A three day workshop was held in early April 2012, in the Institute of Math Sciences, Chennai, on the subject of Popularization of Mathematics. Various individuals were invited to talk about their work – people who have been involved in math popularization in some form – and discussions were held on modalities for math popularization appropriate for this country (5-7 April, 2012).
Workshop for AP Commissionerate of Intermediate Education
A week long workshop was held in late April 2012 for 50 lecturers of the AP Commissionerate of Intermediate Education. The focus was on topics such as Limits, Trigonometry and Geometry, Vector Algebra, and the use of GeoGebra. There were four resource persons: Shashidhar J of CFL, Santhanam R of Chennai, Srirangavalli K of Rishi Valley, and Dr Shirali (23-28 April).
Publication of “At Right Angles”
The first issue of AtRiA (Issue-I-1) is now out; it was published in June 2012. The print run was 2000, and it is being sent out to various parties across the country. Mailings to institutions too has commenced. A soft copy (PDF format) has been uploaded at AtRiA Issue-I-1 and an appropriate mail has been sent to various individuals. To download a copy a user needs only to register with the site. The download is free, and it will stay that way.
ICME trip, Seoul, South Korea
An Indian contingent went for the International Congress on Mathematics Education, held this year in Seoul, South Korea, 8-15 July 2012; Dr Shirali was part of this team. A presentation was made about the Indian mathematical scene, describing the challenges faced by the country.
Dr Shirali also gave a one hour “Regular Lecture” during the Conference on some topics related to the Bakhshali manuscript.
As part of the activities being organized for the "National Year of Mathematics" (as declared by the Prime Minister in December 2011), many public lectures are being held across the country. Dr Shirali will be giving three lectures in AP as part of this program: Tirupati (27 July), Vijayawada (31 August) and Hyderabad (7 September).
Sessions with AP SCERT
Padmapriya and Dr Shirali had a few sessions at two workshops conducted by AP SCERT in Hyderabad. They visited two municipal schools on the outskirts of the city and interacted with teachers as well as children (April-May 2012).
Rural Education Programme
Mechanisms of network and support
After piloting and evaluation of the RIVER methodology in the district schools of Howrah, West Bengal a similar intervention has been initiated in the schools of Hoogly district in its SSA School Improvement Program supported by unicef. A core team of 25 members of SSA master trainers' were trained in this methodology during the first week of June.
This is to put on record the very successful meeting with the Education Minister of Uttarakhand Shri. Mantriprasad Naithani on the occasion of the training in MGML methodology for Government School teachers. The Minister was very impressed with the school that he visited where MGML was being practiced. As we know he has openly requested Rishi Valley and other partners-Plan India & Sri Bhuvaneshwari Mahila Ashram to come up with a consolidated scale up proposal that takes the Model Schools approach (especially MGML) to 15,000 primary schools in Uttararakhand. This is both a challenge and a great opportunity to take RIVER model to scale and benefit all children in all schools of Uttarakhand.
After reviewing preferences of all parties, American India Foundation is placing Emily Coady as William J. Clinton Fellow at RIVER for the year 2012-13. Emily will be joining RIVER in mid September and will continue to work on the RIVER ESL Package & related teacher training modules.
A recent project proposal to institutionalize RIVER’s MGML pedagogical model for primary education submitted to the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation (MSDF) has been approved by MSDF board. As part of this project RIVER will upgrade & enrich its current program by developing standardized ‘Training Modules’ and ‘Teacher Support Tools’. Essentially the project will equip RIVER with clearly defined process documents / tools (both multimedia & print) in the roll-out of their model with any partner. The aim of the exercise will be to allow any member of the RIVER team (current or future) to be able to easily and effectively manage the establishment of the MGML pedagogical model with any new partner. The development phase is for a period of one year and the testing phase lasts about two years. The budget for the project is about 2.2 crores.
During mid-july a charity fund-raising event was organized at Schwandorf Konrad-Max-Kunz-Realschule school in Regensburge, Germany. A briefing session was conducted by a group of RIVER friends in Regensburg to personally invite all the students with an introduction and photos about REC and the purpose of the charity event. Students had lot of questions and showed enthusiasm towards learning about RIVER satellite schools and children. The event was organized in the sports stadium. Hot Indian thali meals and arts and craft items from India were sold to raise funds and Indian music was played during the event. 500 students and 30 teachers and few parents took part in the event. The oldest participant was 86 year old grandmother of Martina (a good friend of RIVER) walked four 400 meter rounds in the sports ground with her walking stand. Many students did mountain bicycling to raise funds. At the end all the participants were awarded with the papermache medals made by REC students.
RIVER directors were invited to a meeting with a team of professors and researchers from Columbia University that is developing an educational project in India that seeks to address school facilities, pedagogy, teacher training, and other challenges in 2 "model" districts. The team will research the impact of these interventions and seek to scale up those that they find have strong evidence of success. The team has already started their work in the first district in Assam and started visiting the second district in Andhra Pradesh (Medak District) from June 24-28. During the meeting the team expressed its keen interest in the work of RIVER in developing and advancing participatory pedagogies and invited RIVER to consider long term collaboration on this educational project.
Validation and support
RIVER–REC has been selected by a national Jury for the award of 'Jindal Prize' for Education with emphasis on moral upliftment. The award carries the highest cash prize in the country of Rs.100, 00,000/-. The award ceremony was held in New Delhi on 23rd February 2012.
Three years ago, Plan International has instituted an award for the best innovative programme implemented across the globe by its partners. This year, the RIVER initiated Model School Program in Uttarakhand has been the Asia regional winner in the “Best project design’ category. It is now nominated for the global award competition.
Interest in RIVER's work among the developmental organizations in Visegrade countries is growing since RIVER was invited to present its work at the Global Education conference last year at Prague, Czech Republic. RIVER director was invited to the Jihlava International Documentary film Festival, to be the Keynote Speaker and Inspirer at the 2011 first project of its kind related to a film festival - the Inspiration Forum. The Inspiration Forum precedes the filmmaker’s decision as to which subject is to be developed, representing a platform for the search for new themes and their interpretations. The Inspiration Forum was held successfully at the city of Jihlava, beautiful historical town located on the half way between Prague and Vienna interconnecting filmmakers, festival audiences and inspiring personalities from the fields of visual arts, science, literature and philosophy.
RIVER has been ranked among the top 100 NGO's in the world by a magazine. Here is the link:
Rural Health Care Programme
Almost 20,000 patients have accessed the services at the RHC during the reporting peiod.
Diagnostic centre: The centre continues to be as busy as ever doing about 32,000 tests this year.
The following new equipment was added to the Diagnostic Centre: (1) Automatic Urine Analyser, (2) HbA1C – gives a 3 month average of blood sugar control.
The Ultrasound machine has proved to be very useful and has helped in diagnosis.
Dental Centre: The dental centre has been used in fits and starts since there was frequent breakdown of the equipment. It is hoped that from July 2012 it would be functioning properly.
Distance Fellowship in Diabetology: Dr Kartik successfully completed the fellowship. He was awarded a special prize for his research paper “A Preliminary Study on Possible Risk Factors in Epidemiology of Diabetes”.
Conference: Dr Kartik presented a paper “A Preliminary Study on Possible Risk Factors in Epidemiology of Diabetes” at the 51st Annual Conference of the Indian Society of Aerospace Medicine in Bengaluru, December 2011.
“Tensions in Livelihoods – A Rural Perspective” - Authored by Drs Kartik, Radha Gopalan and Kamakshi, has undergone editing and will be incorporated as a chapter in the forthcoming book "Handbook of Career Development – International Perspectives” to be published by Springer International.
Vascular Diseases Project: Monash University, Melbourne, Australia (Drs Amanda Thrift, Dr Roger Evans and Dr Srikanth as Principal Investigators) in conjunction with the RHC (Drs Kartik and Kamakshi as PIs) have been working on the Epidemiology of Hypertension in rural populations. The screening phase has been completed and from Middle August 2012, participants will be invited to the Medical Research Unit for a detailed questionnaire and examination, including various blood tests and ECG. This study is scheduled to run till end 2014.
Recently, under the aegis of Global Alliance on Chronic Diseases (GACD), a further grant has been received which looks at screening approximately 30,000 adults for Chronic Diseases. This study is simultaneously being conducted at Trivandrum (Sri Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology) and Northern AP (Georges Institute Sydney). Monash University, RVRHC and CMC Vellore form the group to run the study at Rishi Valley and surrounding areas.
It is hoped that further funding will be available to design appropriate life style and dietary interventions to reduce the morbidity caused by chronic diseases.
Rishi Valley Special Development Area Programme
1. Approval of Master Plan
The Master Plan and Zoning Regulations for the RVSDA prepared by the Directorate of Town & Country Planning, Andhra Pradesh in close collaboration with RVEC was approved by the Municipal Administration & Urban Development Department, Government of Andhra Pradesh. The formal approval and sanction was communicated vide G.O No. 466 dated 17/10/2011. Effective March 12, 2012 the RVSDA is a statutory entity.
2. Social Mobilisation
Social mobilisation was extended to cover 15 hamlets during the reporting year to educate the community on its rights in the context of MGNREGS, Forest Rights Act, 2006, land holdings, animal healthcare and economics of livelihood. The goatherd/shepherd sanghas and the Farmers' Club are operating on their own with RVEC attending the monthly meetings on an as needed basis. A women's Water Users' Committee (WUC) was formed at one of the hamlets, Pujarivaripalle where water resources have been overexploited to a greater extent than other hamlets. This is due to their high dependence on dairying as the main source of livelihood. The WUC has taken charge of cleaning drains and monitoring the water supply status in the hamlet. A group of six households in the one of the hamlets have been mobilised into a collective to share water from one borewell for agriculture. The community borewell was installed with the help of an interest free loan from RVEC. 50% of the loan has been paid back in 6 months. RVEC's partner Anthra continues to support the social mobilisation activities extensively.
3. Capacity Building
RVEC has supported participation of interested farmers in workshops and field training on natural farming, SRI for paddy cultivation, organic practices in flower and fruit cultivation. Following the training some farmers have begun adopting these practices on their farmlands. Farmers who grow produce organically have been added to the list of suppliers to RVEC's Dining Hall.
4. Water and Soil Moisture Conservation
Water and soil moisture conservation activities are underway by accessing MGNREGS funds through co-ordination with the DWMA, and microirrigation facilities from Andhra Pradesh Microirrigation Programme. Community groups have been protecting revenue hillocks from grazing and fires to enable revival of grazing lands and enhance pastoralism (one of the main livelihoods in the area). Routine activities such as de-silting water harvesting structures, contour trenching, application of silt on farmlands etc. are underway. Drip irrigation facilities have been made available to 20 farmers for vegetable, flower and fodder cultivation.
Seeds for cultivation of millets in the area were sourced from Kadiri and distributed among interested farmers in 5 hamlets. Through this millet promotion prorgramme water conservation efforts are proposed to be enhanced. Eighty three kilograms of seeds were distributed and the growth of the millets is being monitored by RVEC.
5. Integrated Development and Management of Common Property Resources (CPRs)
The Central Government supported IWMP programme (Integrated Watershed Management Programme) is underway in the RVSDA. This programme, being implemented by Foundation for Ecological Security is being monitored by RVEC through its presence on the Advisory Board of the programme. Through this programme efforts are underway to bring about an integrated approach to management of CPRs (grazing lands, water bodies, forest lands) to enhance livelihood. The Detailed Project Report has been approved by the Rural Development Department and is under implementation.
The shepherds and goatherds sangha is taking the initiative to spread information about the need for protection of grazing lands from fires and overgrazing in communities outside of the RVSDA as well. This is being done together with creating awareness on the Forest Rights Act, 2006.
Dairying is a major source of livelihood for several families in the RVSDA. Preliminary investigations to understand the problems facing small dairy farmers in the RVSDA was carried out through discussions with the women which was then followed up with discussions with some of the dairies in the area. A preliminary livestock model to understand the economics of dairying in the area was created for further follow up.
Anthra organised a workshop on the implications of the EU-India FTA on livelihoods of small farmers particularly dairying. The workshop was organised at Horsley Hills in February 2012 and farmers from three hamlets in the RVSDA participated in the deliberations. Following this workshop, two women farmers Ms Venkatlakshmi and Ms Hemlata from the RVSDA actively participated in the deliberations and agitation held in New Delhi opposing the FTA. In March 2012, a Gram Sabha was held at Thettu Panchayat in the RVSDA to share the experiences of the farmers with the larger community.
To improve animal health and milk production, the Farmers' Club has set up an organic feed business in the RVSDA. This is also aimed at stimulating production of indigenous varieties of grains, pulses and oilseeds and promote self-sufficiency.
Anthra and RVEC have made dairying as one of the focus areas for work in the RVSDA for 2012-2013. They are engaged in the piloting of a mastitis diagnostic tool in the RVSDA in 2012-2013. This is being done in collaboration with the University of Reading, UK.
7. Market Linkage
Market linkages were provided to some farmers for sitaphal sales in organic stores in Bengaluru. The school continues to be market for vegetables grown without chemicals by select farmers in the RVSDA.
During the reporting year, the Zilla Parishad High School (ZPHS) located at Thettu which is currently being supported by the Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyaan became completely self-sufficient in terms of infrastructure and staffing. Volunteer teachers from the Rishi Valley School now provide enrichment courses in English, Dance, Drama, Music and Art. During the reporting year 100% students passed the Class X Board Exams.
An America India Foundation Fellow Amber Luong worked with the RVSDA team in RVEC to document and develop the livelihood enhancement approach being adopted. The document was completed in June 2012 and will be circulated among practitioners in the field for comments.
S. Rangaswamy (1920-2012) Obituary.
Mammen Thomas (1927-2013) Obituary.