Compiled By: Parveen Kaswan (He did his masters from Indian Institute of Science ( Bangalore ) and was part of the NoteBook Drive)
“If the poor boy cannot come to education, education must go to him.”
Swami Vivekananda had envisaged this noble concept almost a century ago. India has indeed transformed since then, and the education scheme has taken dramatic leaps over the last few decades.
But are the poor benefited? Did education indeed knock at their door? With a high drop-out rate at the primary school level, are we anywhere close to the objective of educating the poor?
The government has done its best over the years, providing school uniforms, textbooks, mid-day meals and even bicycles to girl students. What is lacking is the will to study, a driving force that motivates students to grow higher in life.
With this motto, a group of students at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore in 2002, took the lead and went on to form a small group which is now popularly called “The Notebook Drive“.
The focus is clear: motivate young minds. As a token, the group started distributing notebooks and stationery items to poor school-going kids. The activity is simple: request fellow students, faculty and staff members, and alumni of IISc to donate to this cause. With the money thus collected, find out the appropriate schools that need help.
A truck-load of notebooks and stationery items then reach these schools. A bunch of enthusiastic and cheerful volunteers then distribute them to the children. It takes less than half a day to complete the task, but it doesn’t end there.
The team interacts with the children, talks to them, informs them about the various scholarship programmes including Kishore Vygyanik Protsahan Yojana, Infosys foundation scholarship programme and INSPIRE, that could probably transform their educational career.
With over thirteen years of experience and a pool of committed volunteers, the team has now expanded its tasks from just one government-run primary school to the rural students in Bangalore Urban, Bangalore Rural, Chikkaballapur and Kolar districts. 27 government schools in and around Bangalore were covered under the programme this time.
NBD had also started the initiative of providing scholarship for the meritorious students who are from financially poor background yet motivated to pursue higher education. NBD has given scholarship for seventeen students from Chikbanavara and Ravathanahalli High School last year, who are presently pursuing Diploma, PUC and ITI courses. These students were selected based on a screening method, developed by NBD volunteers to assess the financial background and academic performance of the students. The screening was followed by house visits of the top 15% screened.
Mentorship initiative is one of the latest entries into NBD’s activities. It was started after there was demand for providing training in science projects while conducting Science fairs in few high schools. Some of more initiatives are English Communication Classes for High School Students and ‘Science: From kids to kids’. The science fair in Abbigere was visited by approx 1000 kids, in which 90 young instructors demonstrated about 50 science models. NoteBook Drive started Children’s Day Prize Distribution initiative in 2009 during which the children were given prizes based on academic performance,
attendance, discipline followed by their cultural performances.
The Notebook Drive is a small effort by a group of researchers to impart their support to a group of needy students. It is a modest effort to transform students from literate to educated youth. It’s not a mammoth task, all it takes is a few hours of time and willingness. If more people take up similar initiatives in and around their locality, soon the Swami Vivekananda’s vision can be a reality.
In our fight against illiteracy, we have to create greater public awareness and opinion about this scourge. Through meaningful advocacy, we have to create, amongst those who are unable to read and write an inner urge to become literate. The success of our education programme ultimately depends on the willingness and cooperation of the people and initiatives like ‘Notebook Drive’ are definitely building a strong path towards it.
If you wish to donate or have any questions/comments, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org or at-least help them in spreading their words as sharing is caring.
(Special thanks to NBD team and Deepthi Indukuri for information and pictures)