Haryana, April 6, 2012: A village in Sirsa along Haryana’s dusty borders with Rajasthan has redefined what ‘public-private partnership’ can mean in terms of girls’ education and social development. Kaluana village gave shape to its dream of promoting education for its women by utilising a combined prize money of Rs 25 lakh that it won as the ‘Cleanest Village’ at both the national and state levels. The initiatives taken by Kaluana Welfare Shiksha Samiti to ensure higher education for girls have galvanised a whole block of 48 villages in the Dabwali block.
The biggest bottleneck towards higher education for girls in rural areas are overcrowded and irregular government buses, hence villagers are wary of sending their daughters to study in nearby areas. In Kaluana, the picture is different.
The effort had begun for the 2009-10 session with 34 girls. Kaluana Welfare Shiksha Samiti now runs two buses which transport 135 girls of 27 villages in their block. From the next academic session, the Samiti will operate four additional buses that will cover 40 villages. The buses have been provided by the district administration as part of the Backward Region Grant Fund (BRGF) of the Ministry of Rural Development.
All this has come because Kaluana worked on an old piece of wisdom - the village helped itself. Part of the award money won by the village went into purchasing a bus for taking its children to schools and colleges. In order to strengthen the efforts of the village, the district administration gave two buses to transport the students. With more and more villages joining in, the fleet has gone up to six.
Deputy Commissioner (DC) Dr J. Ganesan told The Indian Express that Kaluana has had a ripple effect in the adjoining villages. “Panchayats of other villages have formed their own Rural Education Societies and are demanding that we provide them with a bus to promote girls’ education in their villages too”, he said.
Ganesan pointed out that the driving force behind Kaluana’s success story is its 38-year-old Sarpanch, Jagdev Singh. “He motivated a whole team, and then the entire village, to work for the Nirmal Gram Puruskar Award at both the national and state level. It is one of the cleanest villages you will find in the country,” Ganeshan said. Kaluana was the best in Haryana, and one of the six chosen across the country for the award.
While the state has paid for the buses, the insurance costs and other initial expenditures, the running and maintenance costs are borne by the educational societies. Jind DC Yudhvir Singh Khyalia, who was earlier the DC of Sirsa, says the biggest contribution of Kaluana is that it has enabled the girls to dream big.
“The most significant change is in the attitude of these girls towards life. They are now confident. They know that solutions can be found for problems, and that dreams can be realized,” says Khyalia.
To both the amazement and the delight of villagers, the Kaluana Welfare Shiksha Samiti has been organising and completely funding trips for girls to Vrindavan, Agra, Mathura and later to Amritsar and Wagah border during holidays. Talking to The Indian Express, Sarpanch Jagdev Singh said it is essential to expand the horizon of the village girls. “Girls’ education is paramount. They shape the minds of the future generations. Even now, our youth stand by us when we talk of progressive work in village,” he said.
Kaluana Welfare Shiksha Samiti is working out the routes of four new buses to provide transport to girls living in villages on the link roads, which are not connected with the main roads. (Source: The Indian Express)