June 16th and 17th will always be remembered as the days when nature unleashed its fury on the hilly state of Uttarakhand. Apart from homes, many schools were destroyed or damaged, and children have been unable to continue their education for quite some time. In the wake of the floods, thousands of children residing in the region were severely affected. Many of them lost their parents, saw the destruction of their homes and schools and are yet to fully recover from deep stresses and losses.
U Turn Foundation was amongst the first organizations to mobilize their resources immediately in response to the much needed relief work. Over a hundred government schools were damaged in 2013 disaster. One of the challenges, identified in our experience with associating with relief & rehabilitation in the worst affected areas of Uttarakhand, was building of sound school infrastructure.
After carrying out a complete survey of the damage caused by the floods and heavy rains, the Uttarakhand State has reported that buildings of 131 primary schools and 28 upper primary schools and 4 CRCs were completely damaged and 440 primary schools and 137 upper primary schools were partially damaged. Post calamity schools were running in damaged buildings and students were studying in open ground without any sort of basic facilities: more students, less number of classrooms; no computer lab; no library facility; no common room facilities with indoor games; no college canteens, etc. Thus there was an immediate need for the development of school infrastructure to give a fresh lease of life to education system in rural Uttarakhand.
Government Inter College situated at Das Juala Kandei, Agastymuni Block, Rudraprayag, Uttarakhand was one of the schools which was the only mean of education for 320 plus children from adjoining 11 villages The college was badly damaged in the calamity and college was using dilapidated classrooms and the safety of students was at great risk. The key constraint of the students and their parents was that the government inter-college of Das Juala Kandei was the sole means to higher education for the children of more than eleven surrounding villages. Village Das Juala Kandei is located at Agastyamuni block at a distance of around 42 km from Rudraprayag. Agastyamuni block is full of mountainous region coming under the central Himalayas. This Government Inter College is selected because of its Hilly Terrain & inaccessible area. The villagers are still awaiting construction of proper road.
U Turn Foundation aimed to address the high demand for a new college building for continuance of studies in the rural commune of Das Juala Kandei through Project ‘Revival’ by constructing GIC (Government Inter-college) in the area in response to requests received from the local community, the GIC administration and Parents-Teachers Association. These requests included not only a new college building but also basic amenities like Furniture & fixtures, Computers & related hardware plus networking, Science laboratory equipment, Library & stationary, School uniform woolens, Sports goods, etc.
To accomplish its objective, UTF held numerous successful meetings with the school administration and community heads to forge an understanding of its vision and goals. Based on its ground survey, UTF prepared a proposal and started approaching MNC’s for funding the project. We are thankful to AMTEK Group for partnering with us for providing an eco friendly building to the students.
The aim of the project was to create a successful education system in GIC, Das Juala Kandei by increasing its capacities, through the development of college infrastructure and furthermore putting a system in place for monitoring the desired progresses. The project was proposed after a series of discussion with the local community, school and district administration, consent of AMTEK Group, baseline data review, due diligence of the site followed by the minutes of meeting of U Turn Foundation. Prefabricated Building option was selected as along with the solutions for the built environment (resource and energy efficiency, environmental, ecological and health safety, resilience to natural disasters), Pre fabricated structure deals with the affordability and economic impacts of construction, and would contribute to making healthy sustainable school facilities. Implementation of “GIC construction, Das Juala Kandei” project saw the construction of seven classrooms, one science and computer laboratory, one principal room, one admin / office / staff room. For close monitoring and supervision, the local educated youth and the Village Committees, Parent Teachers Association’s members were involved in the project implementation. We made sure that there is community ownership of the project. The local community and leadership were very supportive and did their part by helping in demolition work and providing other services for advancement of the project.
We are grateful to Amtek Group for funding reconstruction of the government inter-college. But to prepare a long term strategy for improvement in the education of rural commune of the eleven villages, UTF requires financial and human resources necessary to ensure effective and quality monitoring and evaluation. U Turn Foundation has been managing its operation based on 4 full time employees and 12 part timers/volunteers. Inadequate resources lead to poor quality monitoring and evaluation, it is important for UTF to set aside adequate financial and human resources. For high-quality monitoring and evaluation, UTF needs to hire Dedicated staff time and Skilled personnel. Through our experiences during the construction of GIC, Das Juala Kandei we have realized the need to set up a branch office at Rudraprayag for better effectiveness and delivery of desired objectives.
It was challenging 180 days for UTF team. We faced many hurdles like heavy rainfall, no water supply at the school site, injuries to the workers, the work delayed due to the heavy landslides to name a few. All the challenges that we faced only resulted in making us more capable and strong in execution of deliverable.
Few moments from the journey of rebuilding of the college
- The college strength has increased from 324 to 352 students in its first year and school administration is expecting enrollment of 400+ students in current semester.
- There is complete safety factor in minds of students, parents and teachers as new college facility is earth quake resistant and non-concrete.
- Increase in awareness level of the village community towards importance of education.
- Proper educational facility whereby teachers can impart quality education to students delivered through student friendly learning spaces.
- Reduction in absenteeism and a new enthusiasm for education in students.
U Turn Foundation adopted the policy of good governance throughout the implementation process of this project. This has ensured accountability and transparency in the management of resources. The enthusiasm, commitment and sincerity of U Turn Foundation; contributions of Amtek Group, other donor agencies / individuals and local community, ably supported by the local administration warranted the successful completion of the project.