Sharada Vidya Niketan, that invokes the image of Sharada, the goddess of education, was formally registered with Department of Education, Government of Andhra Pradesh in the year 2009. The school offers education from Nursery to 8th standard in English medium. 80% of the students are availing free education, free uniforms, and free shoes. The other 20% pay a nominal monthly fee of ₹50 and also get these facilities free of cost. The school functions from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. There are 12 well qualified teachers and one of the staff taking care of the administrative functions. Bank of America donates fund to meet the stationery and textbooks’ expenses. With the support extended by the individual donors, we meet the expenses of shoes and uniform for the students and salary of the school’s staff.
Background of the children
Most of the parents of the children in the school are illiterates who had migrated from across the state. All of them struggle for their livelihood, engaged in occupations viz. scavenging, rag picking, and roadside hawking. The chances of any of these having an academic background in such life circumstances is very obviously nil. Being entirely busy with their early hour duties, parents, especially mothers, are left with very little time to groom and take care of their children. This issue is discussed in the parents’ meeting held once in every 3 months. Parents are continuously motivated to send their children to the school. These efforts have brought gradual change and parents are seen trying to spare time for their little ones.
Every week, month and quarter, tests are conducted for children to evaluate their learning levels. It is a comprehensive evaluation that every student undergoes. In the quarterly meetings with parents, an appraisal report of their wards’ performance is given to them. As these parents cannot provide any academic back up to the children, teachers keep them in the school till 5 pm, so that homework is finished and remedial classes are taken. Initially children were reluctant to listen and conform to the school atmosphere. They were not able to cope up with the school schedules. The influence of a disorderly and nomadic life had influenced their behaviour very much. But, with the flexible schooling system developed for them, their habits were tuned to help them get used to schooling and systematic learning.
In the beginning some children had problem sitting with other children much younger to them in a class. To solve this issue, Sankalp prepared a special group for these children. The special class in which they spend 6 months to a year, helps them reach a learning level that makes them fit to sit in a class appropriate to their age. Thus the RTE norms are also respected in this regard.
Celebrations in the school
Children celebrate festivals of all faiths apart from the national festivals like Independence Day, Republic Day, and Children’s Day. Religious festivals, including Diwali, Pongal, Christmas and Ramzan, are celebrated. National festivals are celebrated by hoisting the Indian tricolour flag and conducting competitions like elocution, essay writing and sports events. Religious events are celebrated in the traditional way, like on Pongal, Rangoli competitions are held. School’s Annual Day is also celebrated. On the eve of school day celebrations, different competitions in sports, games, cultural activities and extracurricular activities are organised for the children to participate in enthusiastically.