By Sagar Siddhant and Nasir Hussain
The Transform Lives one school at a time program of S M Sehgal Foundation has the objective of providing rural schoolchildren with access to drinking water, better sanitation facilities, a learning-conducive school environment, and digital and life skills awareness trainings. Through this program, 9,800 schoolchildren in ninety-two schools across India have a more promising future.
The program has had tremendous impact in the water-scarce and saline belts such as Nuh district, Haryana, where children drop out or are absent because schools do not have a regular supply of drinking water. Sehgal Foundation has constructed nearly seventy-five rainwater-harvesting structures in the schools of the Nuh district. In addition, BaLA (building as learning aid) paintings, toilets, and physical infrastructures of the schools have been upgraded, benefiting hundreds of children in the district. District administration appreciated the initiatives of Sehgal Foundation and worked collaboratively to increase the facilities in the schools.
The Education Department, Government of Haryana, in 2019–20, explored the possibility of constructing rainwater-harvesting structures in schools under Jal Shakti Abhiyan and Integrated Watershed Management Program (IWMP), with technical support from Sehgal Foundation. Thereafter, the district administration planned to establish rainwater-harvesting structures in thirty-eight government schools, some of which have already been completed. In addition, water recharge wells and bala paintings have also been constructed in some schools. The efforts of district administration have benefited a large number of children, according to Sultan Khan, the head teacher of Government Primary School, Nagal Mubarikpur, Nagina block, Haryana. He says that students had to depend on water tankers in times of water scarcity earlier, but now they get sweet rainwater for drinking collected in storage tanks during monsoon.
Deepak and Komal, students of the renovated government middle school, Kherli Khurd, Nagina block, Nuh district, say that bala paintings make learning fun and help them in easily remembering names of planets, fruits, vegetables, and names of states. The school was newly renovated by the district administration.
Students and teachers of the newly transformed government senior secondary school, Aata–Barota, Nuh block, Nuh, by Sehgal Foundation, have similar stories to share.
Vinita, a student of the school, says that facilities of drinking water, toilets, school grounds, and classrooms have had a face lift, so students like coming to school and staying in the school for full school days. She says it makes learning easier and enjoyable.
Satyaprakash, a teacher in the school, says that attendance of students is nearly 80 percent now, in comparison to 40–50 percent when the school was not transformed. Anita, the sarpanch of the Barota panchayat, says that the school has been transformed by Sehgal Foundation with support from partners and donors, but it is also important to maintain it. For the purpose, a village development committee was created in the panchayat, which looks after the maintenance needs of the school with school management committee members and teachers. The villagers vow to maintain the school, so that a large number of children in the area can receive a good education.
The Sehgal Foundation model of transforming the lives of schoolchildren, which is trying to cover a large number of schools in the district, thereby benefiting hundreds of children going to government schools, was recognized as such by district administration.
(Sagar Siddhant is project associate, Nuh, and Nasir is assistant program lead, Nuh, Haryana, with S M Sehgal Foundation)