Thursday, August 16, 2007

IDay at Bellur Nagasandra School

In this academic year, this was my first visit to the school. But the recognition and pleasure of the chlidren at seeing their dear "aunty" was instant.

The festivities began with the children walking the area carrying a Gandhiji photo and to the accompaniment of the drums beating.

The mood just got more festive when the children were back at school. They all danced to their hearts content to the beats of the solo drum.

Finally they settled down, wondering what all the fuss was about (especially the anganwadi kids - they were so lost that they looked cute... )

This was followed by ample poojas of Gandhiji and Nehru, a rendition of Vande Mataram (Akash still thinks its a torture to his kids, but my kids dont seem to think so ;-) ), the flag hoisting and finally the rendition of the national anthem.

Shekhar, one of the two teachers at the school for the last 13 years, has been transferred from school to the main BEO office in K.R. Puram. There was a tear-filled felicitation ceremony for Shekhar and it is sad to see him go..

The day ended with chocolates for the children, and that had the children overjoyed. But yesterday also got me thinking. Is this education going to improve the lives of these children in anyway? If not, what are we achieving from this whole drill of making them mug to pass exams? Are these children going to grow up to be daily-wage labourers with children studying in this very same school? Are their grand-children going to have a better standard of living, better food, better infrastructure?

60 years under the national flag, and we still have so many open questions. Is there anything we can do to answer any of them?

Sunday, April 22, 2007

DSF Annual Meet ... 14th April

Dream School Foundation celebrates two years... And we about threes years of being together...

Dream School Foundation, our staff and our volunteer-partners met at the School of Ancient Wisdom with purpose and pleasure, as characteristic like every meeting we have had thus far.

Seemed to be quite an effort for some of us to get there on time. We would probably meet at the Ritz Hotel the next time round, since, we all took a really close look at it. Awesome drive though ...
And even more awesome - the destination...

We had Fun !

The first team to play Mine field - a game with 15 mines , 15 rewards, 1 blinded person, 4 in his/her team to guide him, with 4 sounds, with the goal of getting as many rewards as possible in the given time...and with changing rules...and voices or noises :) - sincere but amateurish as expected...set the stage and the strategy for the teams to come.

The second team played well. Fair and familiar ... with the catch-cries that lasted us the day - Kukudu ku and Hur Hur

The third team... the mavericks... with the best strategy for the ill-framed rules... Kudos for winning and commiseration for the lack of trust and team spirit ;)

More fun...

Thiru, Veeresh ... . Thiru ever smiling and ever happy. Veeresh and an interesting delivery of "Mere Samne wali Khidki mein !", with Sabu.. looking out intently for the "Chaand ka tukda" :)

Chetna...with a huge collection of songs and lyrics neatly packed..and randomly accessed in memory...

Akash, Avinash and the kannada songs... Chilli's silence.. Vikram in company ... Vinay's appreciable attempts to find his latent talent... Vishwas's singing with "the feeling" .. Desingh's modest contribution to the smiles and silence more than the music, Sandeep's gold mine... digging out songs from the 90s hindi movies... Anuj's rendition of a nice song or two... Ambika's backstage contribution... My3's nodding approval of our choice of songs .. and my drum beat that was seeking it's song !

We had food...

Good food :)

We had a walk...

After lunch. The place was great to explore...with it's flowers and coloured pyramidal roof tops..

We had and have purpose ...

We split up into interest groups to plan and discuss our programs for the coming year. Some really good thinking has gone into the development of these programs. This is the first step forward.

ASLC and the library program - After School Learning Centres that eventually should transform into community Learning centres will be set up in three of schools in the coming year. The children of our schools visiting the centre will train for spoken English improvement, get equipped with life skills and will be provided with libraries and learning aids to ensure their progress and development. We are actively looking out for trained teachers / trainers who have the passion and the time to creatively deliver and build our content. We would also like to meet volunteer-partners with the commitment to serve as co-ordinators for content and staff management for this program. We hope to achieve our intended empowerment of the children associated with this project, through its content and it's linkage with Head start.

Head Start - Sponsorship, tracking and handholding of children through and after High school. This program aims to provide the motivation and incentive of learning and development to those of our children who do not have a strong support system at home, but have the talent to take a leap and achieve the dream of equal oppurtunity through our networks of information, mentoring and guidance. We seek sponsors and volunteer-partners who would be able mentors for children associated with this program.

Life Skills and Child Rights Program - To facilitate a platform for children to gain life skills. Also make them aware of and learn how to exercise their rights. We need co-ordinators and volunteer-partners who have a good hold on the medium of training, to be trained and spread this program over all our schools in a sustained manner. Speakers with motivational skills and power to influence would be a blessed find as much as this would be a good cause for expression to you.

Please do write to us at, if you have further queries or would like to partner with us for any of these programs.

Thanks to everybody who was present in person and all our friends from dream school who couldn't make it but are in constant support of our cause. Thanks for the wonderful pictures Ambika, Akash, Vikram and to Chilli, Vikram , Avi and Anuj for driving us all the way. We have come back wiser... as with every aging year ...

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Red Ribbons...

March 8th is women's day. To some of us it means lunches , dinners, greeting friends and colleagues in the spirit of being special.

But to most women in our country, it's just another day...

As India's poised ... here's a message,

Waking up today, to the early sun rays,
To a new day and a brand new phase !
To the brightness hurting my eye,
While on my luxurious stretch, I lie.
A face comes up, against the light,
Not quite to my laziness' delight.
As I try and focus on the figuration,
I see a little girl, in the formation,
As a softly calling halo-ed silhouette,
Unkempt hair shining and hands held out.
Overcoming the lethargy and slumber,
Careful not to scare,I stand behind her.
I Kneel down till our shoulders align,
And turn her around, her face to mine.
And how the sun rays spark up her eyes,
Compelling us to strengthen our ties...
I feel, the brilliance needs to strike,
And tread the paths to happiness alike,
A boy, a brother, another who plays free,
I want her to see what she is meant to be!
I wash her up, fresh like the day begun,
Make two braids each held by a red ribbon.
On her white top, drape the blue pinafore,
As she wears one, hand her a second slipper.
And give her a bag, a pencil and a book,
I show her a path that few girls ever took...
Heading towards the sun and the glowing beams
On a runway of knowledge to a flight of dreams !

Thursday, February 22, 2007

RTI for Education


Right To Information and Public Education

At Sakshi, we are always looking for opportunities to channelise the energy of the citizen for critical social issues. One such issue that has been on our radar for some time has been education. Despite the countless crores of money spent on primary and secondary education the output leaves much to be desired. A large majority of India's children study in government schools and the quality reflects in the pass percentage. A study* on the education sector reveal some shocking facts about government schools

· 52 per cent lacked playgrounds

· 89 per cent did not have toilets

· 59 per cent did not have drinking water.

· 26 per cent did not have blackboards

· 59 per cent had no access to maps and charts

· 67 per cent lacked any kind of teaching kits

· 75 per cent had no toys for the children

· 77 per cent of the schools, there were no libraries.

In the light of these facts there is crying need to reform the functioning of these schools and with RTI the opportunity is there for those who are concerned. All you need to do is download our RTI guide on education, choose a school in your neighborhood and start firing your applications.

Your efforts can make a difference in the lives of all the children in the school and it cost far less than sponsoring a child's education. Get involved and download the RTI on Education guide book today.

* The PROBE (Public Report on Basic Education) report (conducted by Akshara Foundation )

Sunday, February 04, 2007

R-Day at the Circle Shaale

The unchanging, chaste few elements to perceive

The smiles showered from the unsuspecting sieve

A curious eye for a display of the three colours

57 and going strong, the innocence is still ours

Rolling the blue wheel of change,on these premises

Tipping over to a hopeful tomorrow's new promises

Saturday, January 27, 2007


India's Republic day means & doesn't mean a lot of things to people. But to school children, itz fun time again. Marchpasts, community processions, speeches, flag hoisting, songs, skit, dramas & chocolates!!! It was 9ish in the morning, when I reached the Chalghatta school. For a change, all the kids were neatly seated, and awaited the proceeding to start. The chief guest was to arrive, and there was no sign of him. And soon, there was these colorful distant objects in the sky that got the kids excited. Parachutes, balloons ? None of us cud make them out.

The 6th std kids rehearsing

Shivaji & a look-alike!
Awaiting the chief guest.

Finally, we decided to go ahead.
The culturals started, but we guyz had to move to the Bellur school.

Initial photshot with Chetna & Hena.

' Bharath Matha ki Jai'

The Anganwaadi kids.

The Vande matharam song. Chetna & Hena had trained these kids for it. One complicated version, with tounge twistors galore.......I regarded it as pain & torture to my kids.......but to my surprise they pulled it of with aplomb.

Loose control... One more time! for THE skit. The 'Punyakoti' song. Chethan, who sang was running away with the song. I barely managed to click a few snaps.

We had wonderful masks for the cows & tiger, but the one for the calf wasn't available, and we had to make do with a rabbit mask!!! Here Punyakoti is talking with her calf....'bout her impending surrender to Mr. Tiger.

After sentimental scenes, Punyakoti goes to Mr. Tiger, who for reasons I haven't fathomed all my life, feels sorry for wanting to kill her and instead of sending her back & going home, jumps from a cliff, and ends life!!!!

Teaching with my 5th std kids goes like this....45 minutes of English...restlessness.....and suddenly they jump and say 'Uncle, we will dance'......and thats it...they have their 'n' dances...that includes Dhoom machale!!! Here, we have them as Gopika's cribbing 'bout Krishna!!!

Speech in English. Chetna came with a simple written speech, and thrust it in my hands. None of the 4th & 5th were ready to speak it out, for they can't read it in the first place. Shocked. Well, thats the way it is. And, as I loudly contemplated writing the English in Kannada, and getting it read. Manjunath, a 3rd std kid, jumped, and forcefully said, he wud do it, and did a wonderful job of it. Long way to go for us.

3rd std kids singing the poem 'Bannadha thagadina thuthuri'

Man...this song has climbed up to the top of my charts. Something like 'Jannadha pannadha mangagallee'......Monkeys... please don't see, speak & hear evil! A dance, that evokes lot of laughter amongst kids.
End of celebrations. Lots of volunteers missed. Sunand, Dharin & Ami joined. And, the best part was the culturals at the Bellur school. Last Independence day, the kids just watched as Pooja & speeches took the centre stage. But this time it was the otherway.
After we left the school, came across this injured Brahminy kite. It may have done well with some attention & care, we left it to nature & moved away. And, so are these govt. schools ?