Education Key

Issue Identification

Poverty, limited livelihood options and scarcity of resources has encompassed the life of people with misery & depravities. In an effort to meet the daily means inopportunely, education - which is instrumental in the process of socio-economic development, remained neglected in the rural folks of the region. Broken educational institutions and infrastructure, lack of community participation in child education and development, high rate of illiteracy, social-economic dynamics and gender inequality resulted in increase in school drop-outs and disinterest among rural children and people towards education. Also on the other hand, Government in the countryside did far too little to improve education. This overall caused unconducive environment for the spread of education in the society.


The urban and economic centres are equipped with plenty of innovative and interactive education institutes and models for children. Whereas on other hand, the schools in rural areas face problems like inadequate basic resources including toilets, potable drinking water, classrooms, libraries and scientific laboratories at school.
- Swami Vivekananda

We too believe EDUCATION is the key for socio-economic development of every society. Child education and development needs to be tackled holistically with a multi-pronged approach to bring the desired constructive change in the society. With the same thought in mind, SEDT with the support of YOJANA Project Help, Netherlands since last 10 years has been implementing the project- ‘EDUCATION KEY’ in 92 villages of Palam block of Parbhani district of Marathwada region in Maharashtra state.

The Project Philosophy

Socio-Economic Development with EDUCATION as a Central Aspect.

Project Aim:

The project broadly aims to:
  • Improve the educational infrastructure at grass roots
  • Bring positive attitudinal and behavioral change among social stakeholders (including parents, teachers, youths, women and decision-makers) for building a responsive and sensitive society towards child education and development
  • Bring education in the main stream of the holistic development process
  • Ensure availability of gainful and value-based education with gender equality
  • Empower communities and service providers at grass roots to bring sustainable development in quality of education
  • Phase-wise Project implementation
  • Focus to bring qualitative development in education with gender equality
  • Develop a scalable and replicable model and initiatives for sustainable change process putting the last person first

To deal with the socio-economic dynamics and bring overall improvement in the quality of education for children, the project was planned in 3 phases, with clear objectives and plan of action.

Phase I: (2002-2005) The work was mainly focused on infrastructural development of schools, bringing school drop-outs back to school, sensitization of community and Village Education Committees - (VECs), increase people participation and generating a sense of ownership towards educational infrastructure among the local people.

Phase II: (2006-2009) The work was focused on improving overall quality of education, positive attitudinal and behavioral change among the community stakeholders with a focus on teachers and parents and create a caring and responsive society.

Phase III: (2009-on going) The activities are mainly focused on gender equality, adolescent girls and personality development in children.

Activities of the Project- EDUCATION KEY

1. Balpanchayat

Balpanchayat is a unique model of Children’s Parliament at village and block level to create a demanding environment for better education. It involved group of students in the age group of 8-15 years at village level to identify factors adversely affecting the education system at local level. The model would further demand and influence the decision makers to bring the desired change to improve the status of education. The issues handled by these groups in the meetings at local level and in the parliament at block level included - bringing school dropouts back to school and counseling of such families, demand for conducive environment to address issues impacting education, health and hygiene, sanitation, gender equality, Institutional service delivery and other development initiatives. The children in the parliament played a vital role of ‘Change Agents’ by developing rapport with local families, service providers and decision makers in the communities and advocating for the desired changes.

These groups developed over a span of 10 years proved to be the real change makers. This experience also imbibed – ‘values of an aware and sensitive citizen’ among the children.

The success of the activities lies in the recent amendment provisioned by the Government of Maharashtra to initiate Balpanchayat at village level in the state. The same is under implementation as per the rule of Right to Education (RTE) – through School Management Committee.

Villages Covered 92
Number of Balpanchayats 94
Members of Balpanchayat 1182
Parliamentary meetings conducted by children at block level
Schools involved in the process 122

2. Computer Education for School Dropouts with an Emphasis on Girl Child.

To build necessary competencies among rural children and increase participation of girl students, it was essential to introduce computer-based education and make use of electronic equipments in formal education. Through the concept of ‘Digital School’ and use of computer-aided equipment like multimedia tools and digital library the school dropouts, especially among girls was addressed and the drop out girls were connected to the mainstream.

The rate of school dropout is high in girl child. She starts facing the brunt of male dominance, parental indifference and secondary status at home and society from the very early age. Hence this activity has been implemented with an emphasis on girl child.

No. of Digital School 2
No. of Computers and Multimedia equipments used 12
No. of Girl child connected to Digital School 25 to 30

3. Philosophy for Children

Educationists should build the capacities of the spirit of inquiry, creativity, entrepreneurial and moral leadership among students and become their role model
....A.P.J Abdul Kalam

Curiosity is the mother of every invention. The formal education system pays very little attention to the curiosity aspect among children, predominantly in the rural India. This eventually kills the passion of generating enquiries and exploration among children. Education service providers and community stakeholders shall respect the ‘curiosity’ among children. This requires an attitudinal and behavioral change in the service providers, parents and rural society at large.

The concept of Philosophy for Children has been implemented with the assistance of renowned educationists - Paul and Doris from Scotland.

With an aim to bring a desired behavioral change - School teachers were trained through series of training programs under the guidance of the two educationalists.

No. of Training Programs from experts 2
Trainings arranged by SEDT 4
No. of School Teachers Trained 120 to 150
No. of Schools involved 55

4. Reading to the Smallest:

‘Reading to the Smallest’ is a simple yet an effective activity started on pilot basis in a village and today extended to 60 villages. The concept is to bring a serious attention of parents towards children and their progress. This otherwise substantially lacks in rural families. Hence, to develop interaction among parents and children and further build a responsive environment at household level, the activity involved - reading of stories and educational material for children (3-5 years) by their parents at home. This simple activity proved catalyst to bring attention of the parents in progress of their children. Today more than 3000+ mothers are reading for their child. This indeed has provoked and increased substantial sharing among children and their parents. Especially involvement of female members in the development process of children has gained a momentum.

5. Capacity building of Adolescent Girls

Capacity building of girls, adolescents and would-be mothers is a serious need of the hour to bring social parity in the patriarchal society like India. The adolescent phase of a girl child in rural areas is overshadowed by discrimination, poor health and hygiene and drudgery of work. Her educational and healthcare requirements remain unattended. Early marriage of girl child, dowry and motherhood at early stage hardly provides a scope for her personal development.

Series of training programs, exposure tours and experience sharing sessions were organized for adolescent girls. The topics focused were - importance of education, health, human rights and equality.

No. of Training Programs 50 to 60
No. of adolescent girls trained 1250

6. Teacher Quality Improvement Training

A Teacher - shall be a role model for students. It should reflect in his behavior, attitude, character and life.

However, the ground reality observed was not as ideal as it needs to be. It was observed that, teacher who plays a crucial role in shaping the life of children; many-a-times take the profession just as a source of employment. Inadequate school infrastructure, vacant posts at schools and very little involvement of parents in education further aggravates the problem and demotivates teachers.

Hence, SEDT decided to identify teachers who wish to be the role models and partner SEDT in the change process. Teachers were trained to develop their teaching and interactive communication skills. Also the thrust was on behavioral and attitudinal science. This not only helped the project to gain confidence of the teachers at school level, but positively changed their perspective towards quality education and role of service delivery.

No. of Training Programs Conducted 6
No. of Teachers Trained 300
Schools Involved 92

7. Teachers Training on Gender Equality

Additionally the teachers were trained with an emphasis on Gender Sensitivity and Equality. This aimed to help them understand the issue holistically and respond to the problems of girl students. This resulted into a better treatment for girl students in schools, increase in respect among girls towards the teachers and emergence of a local support system for girls to halve indifference at family level.

No. of Training Programs Conducted


No. of Teachers Trained


Schools Involved


8. Training for women in Politics (elected Village Panchayat Members)

With the 73rd amendment in Pachayati Raj and recent resolution passed by the state to promote women participation in local decision making and Panchayat bodies, the number of women in Panchayat and local steering committees increased. However, despite of the quantitative change her actual involvement and participation in the development process remained limited. In local politics and at village level husband of the Female Sarpanch, infamously received a new name - ‘Sarpanch Pati’.

We believe this inequality and manifestation of secondary status is a gender abuse. In this social and political dynamics, imbibing moral values of equality among children would be an incomplete process.

No. of Training Programs Conducted 15
No. of Women Trained 310
Villages 50

This demanded a special attention of the project to capacity building of women on gender, human rights, health and equality. Training programs for women were conducted for –

  • Gender equality
  • Personal Health and Hygiene
  • Leadership development
  • Exercising and demonstrating of women rights
  • Increasing their active participation in Panchayat and Village Education Committees and Influencing decision making process.

9. Gender Equality and Sports

Sports and forms of arts have always been a medium to bring social gelling. With the focused initiative to promote girl child in sports at school and conducting sports competition for girls and boys collectively at School and village level proved instrumental in bringing behavioral change in the society. Through sports and the competitions, the capacities of girls were demonstrated, which helped her gain confidence and compete with others.

Earlier school grounds and open spaces in villages used to be occupied by boys, because outdoor sports were considered to be meant for boys alone. Girls used to play only the indoor games, and her physical and mental capacities required for an outdoor sports were always challenged. However now, girls too play outdoor games on the school grounds and open space. And a culture of playing together overcoming gender as a criterion is a visible reality now. This behavioral change was not simple as it seems to be in urban populace.

Anganwadi teacher were involved integrally in this activity. With their help, counselling of parents was possible at mass level. Sports like Kortfall and Judo were introduced to train children, with a focus to train girls and give an equal opportunity to girls along with boys. Equal training, treatment and facilities were provided so that a feeling and experience of equality is imbibed in the minds of children and society at large.

Children trained to play Kroftball 9000 to 10000
Children trained with JUDO karate for self defense 3500 to 4000
Involved Anganwadi teachers in the process 35

10. Community Awareness For Gender Equality and campaign Against Dowry System

Awareness campaigns and interventions were organized at mass level through village-level campaigning. The focus was on Gender Equality, Education of Girl Child and Campaign Against the Dowry System. It involved rallies by school students, corner meeting, poster presentation, collective festival celebrations and addressing the issues at community programs and get together.

In addition to the quantified indicators mentioned above, few qualitative and significant achievements of the project are as below:

  • Availability of better school and education infrastructure
  • Increased sensitivity among service providers (teachers) and parents with a positive behavioral and attitudinal change.
  • Increased participation of girl child in education and their initiatives in community development process
  • Increase in participation of girls in school development initiatives and a feeling of equality
  • Increase in interactive communication skills and confidence of teachers and school staff
  • A conducive and supportive environment for education at community level
  • Decrease in school dropouts and ‘let’s be away from school’ feeling among children and youths
  • Increase in participation of women in decision making process at household and community level

Looking Forward…

The challenges are great but we have strategized and planned meticulously. We hope to make huge strides to meet the targets we have set for ourselves. The community’s trust and cooperation would eventually determine the level of our success. Today, we believe and are committed to work together to chart a new story of success that creates original models and innovative activities for replication.