Project USAARI: Bridging the gap between Rural and Urban Indian education

Often the majority of us talk about and envision changes in the education system of our country. There is a recurring stress on the need to improve the state of the government schools, and uplift the quality of education imparted there. However, most of our discussions remain limited to the comfort of our homes, without any substantial actions. Breaking this norm, the young but energetic team of Initiators of Change, a Punjab based youth-led NGO, took on the task to improve the government schools of the state.

Since 2020, the team of Initiators of Change have been involved in the mission of revolutionising education in government schools of Punjab. Kickstarted in the month of April 2021, Initiators of Change launched ‘Project USAARI’. USAARI which stands for ‘Unfolding Skills And Ambitions of Rural India’ is aimed at raising the persisting condition of government schools in Punjab by improving infrastructure and imparting state-of-art education.

The project started when the team, led by Gauravdeep Singh, Chairman at Initiators of Change (hereafter referred to as IOC), took to action transforming education in their state. Subsequently, came the vision of transforming 50 government-aided schools across the state. This dream was soon transformed into a magnanimous reality when the team adopted their first school in the Ladian district located on the outskirts of the industrial city of Ludhiana.

What is interesting is how beautifully the team at IOC came about with the concept of ‘adopting’ a school. The infrastructural needs of each school were nurtured by the team just as a parent caters to their child. Along with professional help, each member of the team volunteered in the infrastructural restructuring of the school building. Youngsters dawned their creative hats to design insightful art on the walls of the school, vertical gardens at the entrance, among a host of other tasks

Three pioneer schools

Team IOC marked the beginning of the project of re-engineering and bringing to life the government schools with the adoption of three schools. The three schools, namely Laddian Government Middle School Laddian, Ludhiana, Grace Public School, Shimlapuri, Government Middle School, Sherewala, were adopted in the first phase of the project.

All these three schools had different infrastructural needs. This suggests that the idea of ‘one model fits all’ could not have been adopted for the restructuring of the schools. The initial steps of the process entailed regular visits to the adopted schools and multiple meetings with the local authorities to understand the needs of the particular school.

The Laddian government-aided school demanded landscaping, an overhaul of the poor state of the washrooms, Anganwadi kitchen facilities; the team went beyond their mandate to provide for smart classrooms, and beautification of the school premises as well. The area of operation was slightly different in Grace Senior Secondary school, where team IOC provided for library and computer labs for students- which can accommodate upto 30 students at once. Along with these, smart classrooms were also provided for in the school- which created a significant impact on the lives of about 2000 students studying there.

The team at IOC stood true to meeting the requirements of all schools by not providing a set of band-aid solutions, but actually solving the practical challenges of the concerned school. At the Government Senior Secondary school in Sherewala, IOC got a boundary wall constructed for the school, provided for smart classrooms and library, accompanied by a revamping of the school premises with beautiful creatives by the team itself.

The path ahead

The team at IOC started off with this project envisioning a radical change in the status quo of the condition and quality of education in government schools of India. The project does not see ‘USAARI’ to be limited to simply a project, but to be a torchbearer for future betterments in the country, led by the youth.

The mission of IOC does not end at just the physical revamping of the schools, but the team has also worked hard at ideating on a ‘life skills syllabus’ for the students. This aligns with the organisation's vision of not only transforming the state of educational institutions but also the quality of education. The team has spent hours in ideating over the syllabus and has seeked guidance from renowned personalities.

This project is also unique in the sense that the project was initiated and excedured by a youth-led team. From the founder-chairman, Gauravdeep Singh, to the team members, all our individuals in their early 20s and some even younger. IOC has stood true to the idea of ‘ignited youth’ and broken all myths of associating the present generation with being far removed from social service.

With just three schools, IOC has already impacted nearly 2500+ lives. The impact will only increase as new schools come in the pipeline. The vision of the team does not stop here. The second phase of the project has been kickstarted with the adoption of a school in Hoshiarpur district of Punjab; more schools will be added in the coming weeks. A significant thing to be emphasised here is that this is a completely crowd-funded project, the whole team at IOC operate as volunteers without any pay- just for the sake of and for the love of social service. It is when society comes together, individuals join hands- such impactful things take place. A collective support is required for Initiators of Change to help realise their dream of a better future


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