The Optimist Citizen

How a trio of TISS graduates is bringing an educational resurgence in remote villages near Kolhapur

While the plethora of young people in our nation dream of hitting it big in the globalized world with a proclivity towards western nations, there is some who decide to stay back and solve the persistent problems, by working on a grass root level. Once such example is that of the exemplary individuals behind ‘Vidyoday Muktangan Parivar’, who chose to return to their native land and has created a youth driven organization which is focused primarily on educational innovations.

Vinayak Mali, a Masters graduate in Elementary Education from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, was earlier working for Pune-based social organization Jnana Prabodini’s ‘Gyan Sethu’ project in Arunachal Pradesh. There, he felt that that the hindrances to education, prevalent in remote and difficult international border sharing regions, were similar to what he had seen in his native village. With an accumulated pertinence and desire Vinayak, along with his peers Suhas and Rushikesh, streamlined their theoretical and artistic knowledge and started Vidyoday. Suhas, currently a Masters student at Tata Institute of Social Sciences, had worked with Jnana Prabodini and has a rather extensive experience of working with children, which he combines with his artistic innovations to provide quality education. Rushikesh, an MA in Social Work and a Ph.D. scholar from TISS, with his valuable experience of working with children in rural Maharashtra in the past and his deep theoretical knowledge, acted as the pioneer of the ‘problem-based learning model’ associated with Vidyoday.

The work of Vidyoday is spread across the Rukadi and Hatnanagale regions of Kolhapur. It focuses on a problem-based learning model wherein children develop a self-understanding capacity of concepts like weight and gravity by solving problems indirectly related to the technical aspects. An example of this was showcased in one of their sessions wherein students were given a seemingly unsolvable task of building a house out of paper. Leadership and cooperative qualities are also developed naturally when children work in groups for solving an assigned problem. To deeply embed the notion of a problem-based approach, Vinayak and the team work on various programs.

A Sunday Skill School program aims at bringing together children from around four villages for the purpose of interactive learning. Intending to enrich theoretical knowledge with experience, the organization considers the village to be a lab wherein educational experiments are established in line with the deeply entrenched social values. Vidyoday has further initiated the Sugar School program for the migrated children in the Marathavada region which engages itself for 4 months a year with around 35 students, ranging from those studying in the first standard to the sixth. Currently operating in Rukadi and Hatnanagale regions of Kolhapur, along with a centre a Mumbai, a total of 120 students have been directly enrolled in the programs apart from the students enrolled through the Sugar School and Need-based programs. The Need-based program is aimed at providing aid to government schools in specific required fields.

Vidyoday’s work was recently noticed amongst a broader audience and they were conferred with the Changelooms Fellowship. With support from the Changelooms fellowship program, Vidyoday’s current expansion agenda is aimed towards initiating infrastructural development and teacher training. In Vinayak’s own words, “Vidyoday’s success in the future, say after 10 years, can only be measured through a similar standard of high-quality education being provided to all sections of the society and the quality of education in government schools being at par with that of top private schools in the country. I believe it is only then that we can become inclusive in every sense of the word”.

To know more about the work of Vidyoday or to support them, you can contact Vinayak Mali at this number – +91 9420608084

This story has been published in collaboration with MASH Project.


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