Mandra Lions Club (MLC) is working in one of the most backward part of the tribal district of Purullia in western West Bengal. This area called the Ayodha Hills is a hilly terrain heavily forested inhabited mostly by the Santal Tribals, who have been ignored by the larger developmental work conducted by the government due to the unapproachable terrain. This area is very isolated and have seen very little developmental work either by governmental agencies or by NGOs. MLC is one of the first NGO to have started work here. Their intervention is very courageous as this is one area that the Naxalites are trying to infiltrate and therefore the need of developmental work is very essential

MLC works in the remotest corner blocks i.e. Bandawn, Barabazar, Balarampore, Baghmundi, Jhalda-I ,Jhalda -II & Arsha block since last 17 years for ensuring the Rights of the Children. In the past they have been supported by UNICEF, CRY, CARE, HELPAGE-UK, Asha(Stanford & SiliconValley) and AID(College park & College Station) among others.

Since last 3 years Asha -Stanford & SiliconValley has been supporting their basic education initiatives at 7 tribal villages at Ajodhaya hill. In this project they use the local tribal language for communication purposes. The script is ALCHIKI (Introduced by Pandit Raghunath Murmu 100 years back).

Ajodhaya Hill consists of 74 tribal villages. There are local Govt schools but due to jungle it is non approachable for the children as well as the teachers. The teachers recruited by the government are totally non tribal and the children do not relate to them. For this reasons Mandra has started basic education centres where the alchiki script and local tribal language is used. Asha Stanford is supporting this project. This project is in 7 villages and Mandra wants to replicate this to other tribal, non approachable villages under Ajodhaya hill with help of Asha CNJ.



= =Mandra Project presentation 2009=


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Dec 2008 Site visit report
Budget 2009-10
Financial report 2008-09
Past student performance report

Half yearly status report April-Sept. 2008


Project Proposal

Oct 2007 Site Visit Report

May 2008 Presentation Slides

Minutes of 24 May 2008 meeting

Response to questions raised in Asha meeting

Organizational Write-up

Minutes of Phone conversation with Mahesh and Somnath-babu


Peer Review:


B) Q&A and further follow-up

3. Project: Mandra Lion's Club

Questions to: Joy

Questions:

Answers:

1. What vocational training is given to children in Balwadis?

2. Who develops teaching materials? What is the process of developing teaching materials? How much updating is done/reqd. ?
Mandra volunteers develop the teaching materials in alchiki script. They sit with the tribals and have workshops to decide the content. The organization has also looked into the possibility of taking the content from textbooks prepared by Eklavya and converting them into Alchiki script.
3. How many govt schools (please give names) are in the area? What are the distances from the villages where the Balwadis are proposed?
There are 17 primary schools run by the Govt and 10 anganwadis. The distances are quite a lot to discourage the children from attending them. The whole region is mountainous and the villages are very much spread out. The number of Govt schools is insufficient.
4. Are there govt Balwadis or Anganwadis in the area? How many children are double enrolled in them? How many children in total are in the Anganwadis? How close or how far are the anganwadis? (Site Vist report Oct 2007 says govt schools are 1 to 1.5 Km away. What schools are these - primary? pre-primary?)
There are 10 anganwadis in the area. Not too many children are enrolled in the anganwadis. The teachers come late and there is no teaching that take place. Mid day meals are supposed to be provided daily but this happens intermittently. As explained in answer 3) the anganwadis are located far away from many students.
5. What are the school timings?
school timings are 8AM - 11AM, followed by 30 mins of meal serving time
6. What are the timings for govt schools/balwadis/anganwadis?
the timings are 7AM - 11AM but mostly teachers only come at 9AM - 10AM
7. What is the Maoist situation in the area? How disturbed is the area - how does it affect students/parents?

8. School is held under trees. How practicable is that in summer (Purulia is exceptionally hot!)? Why didn't they seek funding for classrooms?
The program is at its inception. The aim of the organization is to demonstrate to the Govt that if Santhali language and Alchiki script are used in Balwadis, the children benefit subsequently. They hope that the Govt would then adopt this in their anganwadis. Since they do not want to stay in the Balwadi project for a long time, they are not seeking funding for classrooms.

However they want to build a residential school for the students who pass out of the balwadis for their subsequent education.
9. Do the villages have electricity? What is the source of drinking water?
The homes of the village have no electricity, though there is some roadside electricity.
10. What is the percentage of santhal population in the 7 villages? What is the % population of santhal children in the govt primary schools listed in Baghmundi, Matha, Sindri and Begunkudar?
About 70% of the local population is Santhal.
11. What is the quality of education in govt primary schools? How many high schools are there in the area?
The quality of the education in Govt schools is quite bad.
12. Are there govt data to show how the situation of santhal dropout from govt primary schools was improved by the program undertaken by Mandra since the last 5 years?
We have to ask Mr. Roy for this data. But he did claim that there have been many instances of Manra students who have gone to Govt schools and afterwards went on to do very well in life


14. Do the children face the distance problem in attending the govt primary schools after passing out from the Balwadis? If yes, then how is that addressed?
Mr. Roy which partially answers the question with the following, "We do make a linkage with formal educational institutions. We do visit their families forfollow up and link their families with government schemes. During our follow up visit we found that the parents of the children facing problems on Tuition fees, Dress and learning materials for which some children showing irregularities in attending classes."
15. Are the Balwadi teachers Santhals?
Yes, the teachers are local tribal youths
16. What does the CRY Funding of >7 lakh INR per annum support? What is meant by People's initiative for child survival? What's the project about? How long has this funding been for?
Got answer from organizational write-up document
17. What does the Asha funding of SV+Stanford support?
Got answer from organizational write-up document
Staford supported them from 2000 onwards (project on malaria funded in conjunction with Harvard med school). Last two years - school in a bag. There are govt. schools in the area. MLC is trying to influence the govt. to get himself.Stanford has sent this to WAH
18. What does the UNICEF funding support? For how long?
Got answer from organizational write-up document
19. Proposal says there are 8 teachers, but the budget shows 7. Discrepancy check reqd.

20. What is the annual school calendar - what are the major vacations and for how long? (the budget mentions 200 working days - though the answers to CNJ vol questions says there are no major vacations). What are school timings?
There are no major festivals in these regions. Festivals such as Durga Puja etc are not celebrated. There are some village specific festivals and if the parents want to attend then the children are given vacations. Some vacations are also given in Puja duration and during the winter months.
21. What is a typical day like for a child studying in a Mandra Balwadi?

22. How many children does the current 7 schools support?
114 boys and 106 girls
23. How many children are estimated to be supported by the 7 new schools? How is the estimate made?

24. How did Mandra decide which villages they want to make new balwadis? Was there a need-based request from the villagers themselves?
Mandra has been working with the villages for a long time. Based on this association, they know in which villages, there are children in 3-6 year age and also in which villages, the elders are willing to send their children to school. They base their decisions on this.
25. How does literacy data in the 7 new villages compare with those of the 7 old villages?

26. Same as 25, for dropout data.

27. The site visit report Oct 2007 says that the teachers are paid Rs 500-1200 based on seniority. But the budget asks for Rs 1500 for all, or is this an average number to be split again by seniority? What is the split suggested?

28. Where will Mandra hire the 7 new teachers from? Have they already selected the teachers?
The teachers are local village tribal youths.
29. Why does the site visit report 2007 recommend only constructing classrooms in 2 centers? What about the rest?

30. What is Mandra's connection level with ministry of tribal justice/welfare? Can't they get funds from them? What are the prospects of govt funding to build classrooms for these schools?
Related information: Mandra seems to have a history of working with various Govt agencies and being a part of Govt sponsored programs. Mandra is onle of the regular member and decision makers of DPEP (District Primary Education Program). They are an important representative in West Bengal Education Network (WBEN) and also National Alliance for the Fundamental Right to Education (NAFRE).
31. The budget proposal mentions 200 children but the project presentation 2008 says 600 children. Clarification needed. Does 600 mean the total number when the school will have 3 classes?

32. About the 2 field organizers and 1 coordinator : Are they the same ones who work for the already existing 7 schools? Or are they new people? If the former, then check what Asha SV and Stanford are paying for their salaries? What is the total amount? Are these people involved in any other activities of MLC or are they dedicated only to the schools? What are their exact jobs and qualifications? Get names of these people if possible. Are they tribals?
The people will be different. They are volunteers of Mandra.
33. Which is the "other Asha Chapter" that promised children's meals and library for the 7 new schools?
Asha Burlington, not committed yet!
34. What kind of meals are provided? Cooked or dry? Please provide some examples.
Cooked.
35. In the TLM, is the Achliki script printed or handwritten? How are the materials prepared? Can we see a scanned sample of th teaching material? Is there a lot of literature in this script? Interested to know more about the script and what books (I don't mean textbooks) were written and available in this script? Do the parents of the children know how to read and write this script? Does the script and the language have any practical use? What is the status if this language under Indian constitution?
Exists in language studies in University-level. Can do a PhD in Alchiki but doesn't exist in the govt. pre-primary and primary schools. For more details about the script and Santhali language, visit its wiki page
36. What is meant by the Common School System campaign (CSS)?
CSS, mooted over 35 years ago by the Kothari
Commission, was accepted by the Union Government in
its policy in 1968. It was restated in The National
Policy on Education (1986) and later in the Revised
Policy (1992); that, up to a given level, all
students, irrespective of caste, creed, location or
sex would be given access to education of comparable
quality. But to this day, the CSS, which sought to
reduce disparities, remains a concept. For instance,
non-formal education centres have been set up which
only widen existing divides."
37. What did the SV and Stanford site visitors think about the learning materials? Would like to hear their personal views.
We had a conference call with Mahesh, previous project coordinator from Asha Stanford. Mandra was essentially a Stanford project in terms of proposal discussion, site visit, funding decision etc. SV simply provided the funds. Mahesh seemed very enthusiastic about the project and recommended funding it.
38. What are the major religious/traditional festivals in the area?
Major festivals such as Durga Puja are not celebrated. Village specific festivals are celebrated
39. What part of the project has been nominated for WAH 2008?
teachers salaries, MDM and other recurring expenses for running the 7 existing schools for one year
40. if there is road for bus/car, can we fund for a van/bus instead of motorbike? The request for motorbike expenses is around 74k, instead it may cost 30/40 k more for van.
A van wouldn't do... we have to go uphill and there aren't any proper roads there. It's very cumbersome to even drive the bike - at places we had to haul it physically up the slopes.