Asha Trust - Asha Samajik Vidyalaya (Gonwara)

Project Brief: ASV, Gonwara is a community school in Samastipur district of Bihar. The local communities are Mushar and Chamar (Dalit groups). Currently 52 children are enrolled in this school and are the first generation from this community to go to school.
Project Type: Educational Experiments (description)
Primary Focus: children of dalits/tribals (description)

Secondary Focus: other

Area: Rural
Supporting Chapter Contact: Philadelphia
Status: Support ended.
Project Steward: Ankur Pariyani
Project Partner(s): Vallabh Pandey
Other Contacts:
Project Address: , c/o Manoj Kumar,Village and Post Mahe,,
BIHAR  848208
Tel: 91-9931956501
Stewarding Chapter: Philadelphia
May 2009PhiladelphiaUSD 2717
Dec 2008PhiladelphiaUSD 1230
Dec 2008Work an HourUSD 1473
Jun 2008Work an HourUSD 3090
Jan 2008PhiladelphiaUSD 1015
Jan 2008PhiladelphiaUSD 700
Aug 2007PhiladelphiaUSD 1000
Jul 2007PhiladelphiaUSD 885
Dec 2006PhiladelphiaUSD 1360

Total = $13470

Asha Samajik Vidyalaya was started in December 2005 by an Asha volunteer with the objective of initiating the process of education among the Mushar and Chamar communities in a tola (hamlet) called Gonwara, in Samastipur district, Bihar. These Dalit communities are landless and most of them including children below the age of 14 work in brick kilns. Total population of this tola is about 300. The major issues are untouchability, exploitation, poverty, illiteracy and consequent lack of awareness. This project has identified education as one of the ways to empower these communities and bring them into the mainstream of society.

The main goal of the project is to create an interest in education and help the children in these communities to become part of the regular schooling system with the aid of community education centers. There are around 40 children (age range 3-14 years) who are currently enrolled in Asha Samajik Vidyalaya and the project team uses play and learn methods to teach the students. Children are learning to read and write in Hindi and basic English. They are also learning how to perform mathematical operations like addition, subtraction, multiplication and division and also get opportunities for creative thinking using arts and crafts. The project is trying to enroll the students in government schools so that they can use government facilities like scholarships, mid day meals and free books. Initially Asha Philadelphia was supporting only the school in Gonwara, but it has extended support to two more centers in nearby areas. One is in Mahe and has 20 children of different castes and one at Denghrahi with 40 children of Mushar community.

The vision of the project is to use education as a tool to spread awareness about government facilities; raise issues of child labor, exploitation, low income etc.; and raise consciousness among the community members about their right to information - all as part of a much needed Jan Andolan (people's movement).

Asha Samajik Vidyalaya intends to:
1)Expand the enrollment of children to Asha Samajik Vidyalaya.
2)Expand the enrollment of children to the nearby government school.
3)Organize exposure trips for the students.
4)Provide new clothes for the students once a year.
5)Spread awareness about exploitation of children working in the brick kilns.

In the next few years Asha Samajik Vidyalaya intends to:
1)Support good students by sending them to good education centers in the city of Varanasi.
2)Build a more permanent building for the school.
3)Organize health camps for the children in the community.
4)Expand such centers in other deprived tolas of the region.
5)Initiate similar work in the nearby flood affected communities (Kosi and Gandak river is a major source of floods in the area).
6)Develop a social consciousness among the marginalized communities with an essential emphasis on right to information.
7)Motivate the youth to work with such deprived communities by setting an example.

Asha Samajik Vidyalaya was started by Manoj Kumar, an Asha volunteer who spent two years working with the Asha Ashram at Lalpur, Lucknow (Uttar Pradesh). In August 2004, he came back to his village and recognized the lack of education facilities in this region. The nearest government school was around 1.5 kilometers and the small children could not go there. He decided to use the skills he developed at Asha Ashram and started an education center for children in Gonwara in December 2005. The school in Gonwara began with 15 children and currently the the enrollment fluctuates between 40-55 children. Asha has extended its support to two more centers in nearby areas. Currently there are four teachers who are working with the children. The team is also (a) spreading awareness about various government programmes/schemes, child labor issues, exploitation etc. (b) expanding its education related work in other mushar tolas and with the flood affected communities in the nearby areas. The vision of this team is to use education as a tool for initiating a social movement whereby such marginalized communities can fight for their own rights and improve their conditions.