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New Gramonnati Kendra in Asthua

Darbhanga (Bihar) Kendra

Fables of Gonu Jha are popular in villages around Asthua, an idyllic hamlet in Darbhanga, a district located in Northern Bihar, not far from the border of Nepal (see map). Gonu Jha was a prolific storyteller, with amazing wit and wisdom, his stories lived through time, surviving the ages and evolving generations. Actually, time has stood still for Asthua, as not much has happened for the people of the village, except a few modern amenities like a road connecting them to the town has been built. The education of the children is dependent on a middle school in the village and a senior school in Singhwara, the Tehsil Headquarters about ten kms away. A few private schools are enrolling children with the promise of a better education, a visit to one of them proves they need to cover a lot of distance.

Enter an enthusiastic young man with a vision for the village. He started a small Community Information and Resource Centre (CIRC) a few years ago, with the help of the local landlord who means well and saw a lot of promise in both the young man and the children of the village. This enterprising youth, Shyam Kumar, a carpenter by profession, chose to take the bold step of breaking the mould and do something pathbreaking and worthwhile for the village.

As they say, when you mean well, the world comes together to help you achieve your goals. Neelratn Sinha, the good Samaritan landlord approached Maj VP Sharma(Retd), CEO and Co-founder of Gramonnati, to open a Gramonnati Kendra in the village. VP visited the village along with Neelratn in the month of Feb 18. Seeing a lot of promise in Shyam and the youth, the Gramonnati Team decided to start a Kendra in Asthua village. The process of fielding the Vidya Jyoti Program commenced as various technology partners like, E-pathshale, eVidyaloka, Chippersage and others were contacted for the relevant content and related hardware.

The village children would be benefitted immensely from the Vidya Jyoti Program, as it brings to them subjects like English, Maths and Science through e-pathshale. The content is easy to comprehend and attracts attention by being really innovative with more than 4000 videos on various topics in the above subjects. The paucity and quality of teachers would be overcome by the eVidyaloka program, which creates digital classrooms for school children in remote villages, with the support of volunteer teachers from across the globe. A panel of volunteer teachers is being created, who will conduct classes over Zoom/ Skype video-conferencing for the students as per a defined schedule. A spoken English Course will be conducted by teachers trained by Chippersage.

Gramonnati chose 02 Oct 18, an auspicious date, being the 150th Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, for inauguration of the Gramonnati Kendra at Asthua. The team comprising of Brig Rakesh Kaul (Retd) and Shubham Patel, Udyam Trainee from Jabalpur arrived on 29 Sep 18 at Asthua to spearhead preparations for setting up the Kendra. Mr Neelratn Sinha had already reached the village. The Team, along with Shyam went about meeting and informing the elders, Aanganwadi mahila workers and other villagers about the benefits of having a Gramonnati Kendra and the change it will bring to the children in particular and the village as a whole. The visits also included the Government Middle School and a notable private School run by Mr Naushad, in the nearby village of Ghordaur. The students and teachers were extremely excited to see the content and the manner of delivery, as not only was it novel but comprehensive and easy to understand. The Team gave a detailed presentation to Shrimati Abha Kumari, the Block Development Officer, Singhwara, on the modus operandi of Gromonnati and their work in other states notably the border districts of J&K. She was visibly impressed by the work and was excited that a Kendra in a village of her Tehsil, was being set up during her watch. Gramonnati invited her to inaugurate the Kendra, which she graciously accepted.

The Gramonnati Kendra was inaugurated at 1230h on 02 Oct 18 by Shrimati Abha Kumari, the Block Development Officer, Singhwara in the presence of the Sarpanch, Asthua, other civil administration officials and the villagers, which included a very teary eyed 101 years lady who could scarcely believe such a development was happening in her village in her lifetime.  Maj VP Sharma, CEO & Co-Founder interacted with the Chief Guest over video conferencing from Pondicherry. Sandeep our Udyam Trainee, who is presently in Rajouri, also witnessed the proceedings through video conferencing.

The story to transform the children and the villagers of Asthua is being scripted by Shyam Kumar, a brave and proud son of Asthua, with the assistance of Gramonnati and Neelratn, another proud villager who understands how a good education can transform the life of a child. Gonu Jha would have been beside himself in narrating this story, which will now be heard beyond the borders of the village of Asthua, with the help of Gamonnati.