Background : Shri J.K. Sinha, IPS (Retd.) joined the Indian Police Service in 1967 and served with Govt. of India both within the country and abroad for over 35 years. He returned to his hometown Patna in 2005 with a vision and mission to work for the amelioration of the musahar community of Bihar which is, perhaps, the most deprived and exploited community in India. He believes that quality education for the down-trodden is the only road for their emancipation and empowerment.
99.5% of the musahars are landless labourers, and literacy among them is the lowest, hardly – 3%. Musahars are the darkest spot in Bihar’s literacy drive. They will take 4,419 years to secure 100% literacy. This will plague Bihar for years. For centuries musahars have worked as bonded labourers. Historical records suggests that they were forced into crime by landlords and mahajans. Deprived of hope and opportunity musahar youth have also joined the ranks of the naxalities in Bihar particularly in central Bihar. Musahar children only know poverty, and have an aimless existence. Their population in Bihar is estimated to be approximately 3.5 million and they are spread all over rural Bihar in penny-packets. Almost all villages of Bihar have musahar tolies or musahar ghettoes and these ghettoes were mostly located on the outskirts of the villages. The musahars were ranked as the lowest among the ‘untouchables’. The Bihar government declared them as ‘Mahadalits’.
As the literacy levels are extremely low, only young children can be selected and admitted to Nursery or Class- I. Moreover, they have to be put in the hostel as there is no environment or facility at home for studies. The SSS provides for their tuition, boarding, lodging and other necessities. SSS established the Shoshit Samadhan Kendra om 2007, with a view to impart quality education to musahar children. It is expected that many of the students passing out from this school will successfully compete for slots in institutions for higher learning. However, provision will also be made for training in various crafts such as carpentry, auto repair, computer, plumbing, electrical repair, etc. Children passing out with a high school degree, highly skilled in these vocations, will be able to breakout from the cycle of poverty. If the facility of quality education is given to sufficient number of students of the Musahar community on a continuing basis, it shall change the profile of poverty in due course. If the benefit of quality conventional education coupled with vocational training is made available to Musahar children, not in hundreds but in thousands, in a matter of a decade or two, it will give new life, not only to these children, but with their support, to the entire families of this unfortunate community. This admittedly is a long haul project, but then its impact will be permanent, and change the profile of poverty particularly in the villages of Bihar in due course. What has not happened over centuries can be achieved in a matter of couple of decades, if sufficient support is extended to the project of SSS.
SSS aspired to deliver a silent revolution in the musahar community – The vision of the project is to bring about a silent revolution in the musahar community, which has lived in sub-human conditions for centuries. It will not be enough to give the children brought under the project proper schooling. To enable and empower these children to make a quantum jump in life, and become a catalyst of change within their community, it will be absolutely essential to see them through higher education in reputed institutions of the country. Hopefully, many of them shall compete into professional courses, such as computer software, medicine, engineering, law, accountancy, etc. run by recognized institutions. Those who can’t, will be given vocational training, which will ensure decent employment opportunities. The school, namely, the Shoshit Samadhan Kendra will have to parent these children till they reach their destined destination. The school has recently established a computer centre. Slowly, but surely, it will be imperative to create a corpus that puts the Kendra on a permanent footing – self sustaining with the necessary financial resources to achieve the silent revolution, which Shoshit Seva Sangh aspires to deliver.
Quality education, the only ladder for transformational change – The best gift to an underprivileged child is a future and this can best be assured by making available to the child quality education. Unfortunately, the government run village schools are not the answer. Undoubtedly, these schools can spread literacy but deprived of both a quality faculty and adequate facilities, these schools cannot empower the deprived through quality education. The residential school, Shoshit Samadhan Kendra provides all the necessary facilities and the environment for imparting quality education. It has a highly qualified faculty and the student teacher ratio is 1:20. As the literacy levels are extremely low among musahars, only young children can be selected and admitted to Nursery or Class-I. Presently (academic year 2015-16) there are 350 students in the residential school and for the academic year 2016-17 the number of student will be 400 as the project plans to increase the numbers by 50 each year. SSS hopes to build a capacity to have 500 students in the school by 2018 and double the capacity by 2025. It is expected that many of the students passing out from this school will successfully compete for slots in institutions for higher learning enabling them to compete with the best and make a quantum jump in life. However, provision will also be made for training in various crafts such as carpentry, auto repair, computer, plumbing, electrical repair etc. Children passing out with a high school degree highly skilled in these vocations will be able to breakout from the cycle of poverty. If the facility of quality education is given to sufficient number of students of the Musahar community on a continuing basis it shall change the profile of poverty in due course.
Project activity – The project activity is running a fully free English medium residential school for the poorest of the poor, the children of the musahar community of Bihar. The residential school, Shoshit Samadhan Kendra run by Shoshit Seva Sangh was established in 2007 in hired premises in Patna. The number of the students was 37. The school has taken major strides in the last three years i.e. 2012-13, 2013-14 & 2014-15.
SSS has acquired over 2 acres of land at constructed a school building with a capacity to accommodate 500 children. The school has all the facilities mandated by the Central Board of Secondary Education and has a built-up floor area of over 54000 sqft. The foundation is for G+3 and it is proposed to construct two more floors in the future so that the building can accommodate 1000 students.
The school was given provisional affiliation by the CBSE in 2014. Application has been submitted for permanent affiliation not only for the Secondary School level but also for the Higher Secondary School level, as the school now fulfills the stipulations laid down in the provisional affiliation.
The school Shoshit Samadhan Kendra has 350students drawn from musahar ghettoes located in various villages all over Bihar.
A level playing field – In order to provide a level playing field to the children of the musahar community to enable and empower them to climb to the higher rungs of the socio-economic ladder and make a quantum jump in life, it is necessary that the education available to them is of high quality . Education of high quality has three essential ingredients, namely, a qualified faculty, adequate facilities and last but not the least, a proper environment conducive for serious studies, personality development and development of human values among the students. Shoshit Samadhan Kendra has recruited a well qualified faculty and about 20% of the faculty members including the Principal are resident in the school. They not only ensure discipline but also oversee self-study classes. The students-teacher ratio in the school is 1:19.
The facilities at Shoshit Samadhan Kendra conform to the norms laid down by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE). There is a well stocked library, a computer laboratory, and a science laboratory apart from an audio-visual classroom.
The residential school attempts to foster a proper environment for promoting serious studies and personality devevlopment. Monthly inter-house competition is held for debates, elocuation and quiz contests. The children are encouraged to participate in dramatics and other extra curricualr activities. Self-study classes are sup ervised by the resident teachers and supporting staff of Assistant Hostel Superientdents.
Monitoring and reporting standards followed by the Organization –The students at the school are closely monitored during school hours and after school hours. Assessment of academic performance is ensured through the mechanism of fortnightly tests, half-yearly examinations and annual examinations. The performance of the students from the very first year of their joining the school is retained in the database. The assessment of the performance of the students at extra-curricular activities and co-curricular activities are made through the mechanism of weekly inter-house and inter-class contests. Assessment teams from donor agencies and individual donors visit the school from time to time and make an evaluation of the school.
Major Highlights or case study of the organization.
- The program caters to one of the most needy and marginalised populations in Bihar.
- The desired impact has the potential to be life transforming for the students and their families.
- The program aims and works hard to ensure that the students recruited are representative of different Musahar communites in Bihar and hence actively seek out under represented areas.
- The young teacher/management team is very dedicated, open to learning and invested in the school.
- The school has acquired CBSE affiliation.
- The new campus promises to resolve the current space constraints and opens the possibility of growth.
Good governance practices followed by the Organization – The Management of the school believes in paying great attention to small details with regard to administration and governance. It believes that if small issues are managed well the bigger issues normally are automatically managed well. Daily accounts are maintained in an electronic cash-book register which is transferred to another cash-book i.e. customized accounting software – Tally. Daily reports with regard to functioning of the mess which catered to almost 400 persons is received in the Chairman’s office promptly. Clear division of work among the resident faculty as well as grade 4 staff is laid down and supervised by the Principal. The accounts of Shoshit Seva Sangh are audited annually by authorized Chartered Accountants. SSS files regular and prompt Income Tax Returns as well as FCRA Returns to the Income Tax Department and Ministry of Home Affairs respectively. To ensure transparency the audit-report of SSS alongwith the balance-sheet is posted on its website www.sssfoundation.org.
Testimonial from other credible Groups / awards and achievements – An extremely prominent article written by Mr. Amit Chandra, Managing Director of Bain Capital Advisors and board member of various leading companies and NGOs on Shoshit Seva Sangh was published in the ‘Mint’ dated July 17, 2014. The link of the article – http://www.livemint.com/Politics/xRVWIXMxJUutK8hzLCyEjN/Education-provides-a-level-playing-field-to-Bihars-underpri.html.
- India Positive Award ‘2012’ by CNN IBN
- South Asia Literacy Hero Award ‘2013’ given by Rotary International
Looking into the future – The vision of the project is to bring about a silent revolution in the musahar community, which has lived in sub-human conditions for centuries. It will not be enough to give the children brought under the project proper schooling. To enable and empower these children to make a quantum jump in life, and become a catalyst of change within their community, it will be absolutely essential to se e them through higher education in reputed institutions of the country. Hopefully, many of them shall compete into professional courses, such as computer software, medicine, engineering, law, accountancy, etc. run by recognized institutions. Those who can’t, will be given vocational training, which will ensure decent employment opportunities. The school, namely, the Shoshit Samadhan Kendra will have to parent these children till they reach the desired destination.
Presently (2015), the school, Shoshit Samadhan Kendra has 350 students all living in the school hostel. It is planned to increase the number by 50-55 each year. As there is lack of both literacy and education in this community almost all the new admissions will be in the pre-school class (UKG). Even those children who are studying in 5th and 6th classes of the government village school under the Serva Shiksha Abhiyan, are not fit enough to join class 1 or class 2. Therefore, the numbers of students in the school can only be increased gradually. Shoshit Seva Sangh plans to build capacity to have 1000 students in the fully free residential school by 2025. Presently the ratio between the taught and the teachers is 1:19.
Financials – Shoshit Seva Sangh has been extremely fortunate that it has been possible so far to raise funds to meet the growing commitments and expenditures incurred by it in successive years. In 2007-08 the total expenditure including capital expenditure was Rs.40 lacs. The budget for operational expenditure in the F.Y. 2014-15 was Rs.1,40,40,000/- and the budget for the financial year 2015-16 is Rs 1,62,00,000/-. Funds were also raised to buy 2.13 acres of land in Patna and construct a residential school building with all the facilities mandated by Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) for approximately Rs.18 crores.. The school building shall house 500 students initially and the plan is to double the capacity of the building to house 1000 students by 2020. The school run by Shoshit Seva Sangh provides not only free education, boarding & lodging but also clothes including uniforms, text-books and stationery, medical-care, toiletries, bedding and bed linen, personal utensils and all other necessities.
Shoshit Seva Sangh