Improper functioning of schools, inadequate physical and academic infrastructure, lack of quality teachers, poor attendance, over age enrollment and repetition are amongst the reasons due to which the State has low literate population.
Many Essar projects are located in geographically remote areas where access to quality education has become a significant issue. In its effort to uplift the communities around its areas of operation, Essar Foundation has undertaken a number of education projects in these remote rural areas.
These projects aim to nurture students' curiosity by using alternative and more practical methods of teaching. By adopting a ‘Learning is fun’ philosophy, the Foundation, through new and innovative methods, involving the use of creative media, aims to create a world of opportunities for the under privileged children.
In order to enhance the spirit of reading and learning amongst children, the Foundation organised a learning festival, called “Kahani” in the remote area of Dantewada district from April 17 to 19, 2012. The festival aimed to introduce children to alternate mediums of reading and learning through story-telling, movies, puppetry, dance, music, workshops etc. The festival was an important initiative since majority of the children are deprived of any kind of educational facilities, owing to poor infrastructure and defective teaching methods.
The festival is also aimed to educate the teachers about newer tools to build CFSS (Child Friendly Schools and Systems) as envisaged by the RTE act. About 2000 children participated in the festival from 2 blocks- Kuakonda and Katekalyan at Dantewada district.
While elementary education is of critical importance, Essar Foundation also realizes the need of creating an environment that will help identify and nurture unskilled urban and rural youth. Keeping this in mind, Essar Foundation along with the District Administration, Jagdalpur, organised an ‘Education and Career Festival, first ever career Festival held in the Bastar region, for the rural youth on June 20-21, 2012.
The event brought together institutions offering a variety of courses, such as Engineering; Nursing and Physiotherapy; Welding, Agriculture, Business Administration, Industrial Tailoring and Computer Education, under the same roof. The event helped the students and their guardians expand their knowledge and awareness about prospects for higher education. Apart from higher education, stalls exhibiting the importance of soft skills such as spoken English and personality development made the career festival very useful for the students.
The career fest was attended by 7,000 students with 4,700 students registering for the event on the opening day itself. The event interestingly saw an impressive number of participation from girl students (60:40 ratio girls:boys). Students from Class IX to Class XII and those contemplating higher education attended the two day event. Both government and private schools from Sukma, Dantewada, Bastar, Kanker, Bijapur and Kondagaon participated in the event. Coming from rural and economically weak backgrounds, most students were eager to opt for short term courses that would increase their employability quotient.
One of the key highlight of the event were the star achievers from the region who have cleared various national and state level competitive exams addressing the students and sharing their experiences and encouraging the rural youth to achieve their goals.
The District Administration announced a Helpline number which offers any sort of career guidance needed by the students. The first of its kind initiative is a step towards ensuring that the students of Bastar, a largely tribal area, get enough opportunities to rise up to their full potential.
Through these initiatives, Essar strives to bridge the gap of knowledge by supporting use of alternative methods of teaching and developing useful resources for the nation.