Balwadis (Pre-School Centres)

Environmental Education in Schools

Gram Pustakalaya (Village Libraries)

Sandhya Kendra (Evening Centres)

Computer Literacy

Kishori Shikshan (Adolescent Education)

Women’s literacy and education

Preventive Health Care and Education

Gram Shikshan Kendra (Community Learning Centres)

Balwadis (Pre-School Centres)

Since 1988, we have supported Community Based Organisations-CBOs, in villages spread over all the mountain regions of Uttarakhand to run over 350 balwadis. This support has taken the form of on-the-spot guidance and evaluation, teacher training and development of learning materials using locally available resources. Very young rural children, the majority being girls, were enrolled in the balwadis. Over the years, more than 2000 balwadi teachers have been trained. With the expansion of the similar government run Integrated Child Development Scheme-ICDS programme, this activity has been curtailed.

The special features of the balwadis have been:
• The village community manages the centre and provides a room and land for it.

• Free mid-day meals were not provided in the balwadis. Instead, parents were requested to send tiffin (lunch) with their children which was then shared at mealtime. This was in keeping with our policy of minimum money inputs and also to support self-sufficiency in villages. Communities were motivated to grow cereals, vegetables and fruits locally and a support system was provided for this to happen in the village.

• The teacher, usually a girl or young woman of the village or of a nearby village, was appointed by the CBO in consultation with the village community.

• Laying foundation for environmental awareness and sensitivity at this early life-stage was an important part of the programme.

• The annual calendar and the daily timings of the balwadis were decided by the community in accordance with the seasonal workload and convenience of the residents.

• The teachers were mostly young and not highly educated. Often they came out of their villages for the first time to attend a teacher-training course. By participating in the programme, they gained confidence and developed into environmentally-aware and knowledgeable adults. They were motivated to do socially-useful work and in many villages they were instrumental in the formation of women's groups.


A r t i c l e

"I have been in the field of early childhood for more than 25 years, but I have never seen such an informative, well-integrated, and joyful set of lessons. The teacher created opportunities to learn various concepts through exploring, naming, and imagining that helped the children bond with their environment."

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