Majority of the NT-DNT communities fall amongst the most economically and educationally backward communities in the state.Multitude of reasons like perpetual migration, societal outlook, indifference of authorities and to an extent, ignorance and some stubbornness on part of the communities themselves, are behind such conditions of these communities.
“Education for the children of NT and DNTs features highest on our priority list; we feel everything else, but the age of learning for these children,can wait. Children education has never featured high on these parents priority against the need for daily sustenance. We, as VSSM and per needs,are prepared to impose upon parents the importance of sending children to school.”
The Bridge Schools act as a virtual bridge between the settlement and government schools and came into existence as a need felt to acclimatize, socialize, groom and persuade the children,from NT-DNT communities, to initiate the process of education. The rationale driving this program is to acclimatize children to the environment of classroom learning, ignite a passion for learning within them, instill importance of some basic hygiene values, initiate the process of socializing with other communities and later mainstream them in the village school
The Balghars are essentially function as day-care cum activity centers for children between ages of 0-3 and 3 to 6 years. When the parents are away working and elder siblings attending the Bridge Schools the younger children are taken care of in the Balghars. They function in the same premises along with the Bridge Schools. The basic objectives of the Balghars are to:
• Provide nutritional support to children below the age of 6 years to prevent malnutrition
• Provide Early Childhood Education (ECE) that eventually facilitates their school enrollment.
Residential Academic Hostels:
A lot of the NT-DNTs are required to wander and migrate in search of livelihood. In such circumstances provided focused and continuous education becomes impossible. Earlier a lot of efforts were directed towards enrolling the children from these communities in various residential facilities available across the state but the approach of the management, teachers and co-students kept pushing the enrolled NT-DNT children out of such institutes. The need to have a separate facility for children willing to learn had been immense. VSSM facilitates 3residential academic facilities for the children of NT-DNT children.
Doliya Girls Hostel:
In the year 2012 with the support from Shri Indubhai shah – Tithal, ‘Jain Heet Vardhak Mandal’ Mumbai and The Giant Group of Central Mumbai a residential hostel facility especially for girls only has been set up at the DoliyaTirth in Surendranagar. In the initial phase 10 girls between the ages of 6-14 years were enrolled in this special facility the number has grown to 25 and is expected to raise to 50 in 2013. The schooling of these girls happens at the nearby Doliya Girls School.
Doliya Boys Hostel:
The success of the hostel initiative for girls has triggered the need for have a similar facility for the boys from the community. VSSM launched a boys hostel at Doliya in 2013.
Vadgam Boys Hostel:
VSSM has inspired a lot of nomadic and de-notified communities to come together and work for the progress of their communities. On the same lines a Raval community association has come into existence in Banaskatha. The associationhas been engaged into a lot of activities for the progress of their community. The association made efforts to understand the reasons for the community’s marginalization and it was realized that their approach to education was one of the primary reasons for the prevailing conditions of the Ravals.A community initiated and VSSM facilitated hostel has been functioning for the Raval boys at ‘Raval Community Center’ in Vadgam.The focus is enrolling boys who have completed elementary education but fail to study further in absence of higher education facility in their village or in vicinity. The management and administration of the hostel is completely done by the community while VSSM performs the role of facilitator.
The Gujarat State Social Welfare board aids the daily expenses of the hostel. The need to have a building extension to accommodate the growing number of hostelites was supported by well-wishers of VSSM.