Ceiling fans to yoga teachers: Schools are turning to education ministry’s Vidyanjali portal for basics

Over 6.8 lakh schools have raised requests on Vidyanjali portal. Centre’s programme is akin to state initiatives marshalling voluntary contributions.

Vidyanjali Portal: A donor bought uniforms for students of Government Co-ed Sarvodaya Vidyalaya, Rohini (Image: Special arrangement)Vidyanjali Portal: A donor bought uniforms for students of Government Co-ed Sarvodaya Vidyalaya, Rohini (Image: Special arrangement)

Shradha Chettri | February 21, 2024 | 01:00 PM IST

NEW DELHI: Agastya Labs in Bengaluru helped Government Co-ed Sarvodaya Vidyalaya in Delhi’s Rohini build a junior science lab. A Noida-based education technology company provided nine smart screens; other donors have bought the school computers, sweaters, and a table-tennis board, among other equipment.

“There are several things for which we do not get money from the government. This project has really helped us gather a lot of facilities for our children,” said vice-principal Bharti Kalra.

The project is Vidyanjali, an initiative of the department of school education and literacy, ministry of education. It was started in 2021 for facilitating direct contributions – services, assets, materials and equipment – from the communities and volunteers to government and government-aided schools.

Sports equipment worth Rs 75,000, canvas for art, musical instruments like congo drums and guitar, computers, boundary walls, resource persons for career counselling and yoga – the Vidyanjali programme has afforded government and government-aided schools all of these and more at no extra cost to the state exchequer.

It facilitates volunteering by alumni of educational institutions, serving and retired teachers, scientists, government officials, retired armed forces personnel, self-employed and salaried professionals, homemakers, persons from Indian diaspora and other organisations, groups or companies wishing to help the schools of their choice, pan-India. The contributors and schools are connected through the Vidyanjali portal.

According to a ministry report, since the initiative was launched, the cumulative count of volunteers has reached 4.47 lakh. The number of schools onboard has reached 6.84 lakh, impacting about 6 crore children. The scale and type of requests have also revealed startling deficiencies in the public school system with many schools across the country requesting basics like ceiling fans and boundary walls.

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Vidyanjali Portal: How it works

Once the schools register on the portal, they can raise requests for two things – assets or services. The requests can be viewed on the portal and interested volunteers can sign up to help that school.

Both the school and the volunteers are provided with badges and certificates. Diamond certificates, the highest level, are awarded to those who have successfully completed 25 activities. The lowest, white certificate, goes to new entrants who have completed one activity.

According to the ministry’s report, as of December 2023, Vidyanjali portal was revamped and a corporate social responsibility (CSR) component was introduced for large projects. About 2,871 institutions have been registered for CSR. The ministry had also signed an agreement with the PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PHDCCI) to help bring in CSR funds.

vidyanjali portal, sarvodaya vidyalaya, education ministry, delhi government schoolGovernment Co-Ed Sarvodaya Vidyalaya, Rohini, Delhi, got a lab from Vidyanjali Portal donors (Source: By special arrangement)

Fans, walls, yoga teachers

Under the “service and activity” category, there were 11 sub-categories where the maximum requests registered – 99 – were for sports and yoga teachers.

Around 84 were for teaching art and craft. There were also requests from schools for subject assistant teachers and for teaching vocational skills.

Kendriya Vidyalaya (Afs) No.1 Suratgarh in Jaipur requested a sports and yoga teacher. The request raised said: “The person should have a diploma or degree in sports or yoga to be a trainer. Experienced persons shall be preferred.” Several schools also expressed the need for trained counsellors and special educators.

Under the “assets, materials and equipment” category, the needs were diverse. Schools sought support for basic civil infrastructure requirements, such as rainwater harvesting facilities, gates, boundary walls, additional classrooms, toilets for girls and boys and children with special needs, and libraries. As many as 134 schools raised requests for help with constructing boundary walls.

The maximum requests raised were for ceiling fans. As of January 28, there were a total of 358 such requests.

The Korba Mithagar Mun Urd School in Maharashtra, which has requested 10 ceiling fans, said:“Schools need more ceiling fans as the climate change has resulted in an increase in the temperature. Our school is made of asbestos sheets so[,] temperature management is very important for the safety of our students.”

Schools had also raised many requests for a variety of digital resources, including smart TVs, LED projectors, desktop computers and more. A large number of the 139 schools to request LED projectors were from different parts of Assam.

Vidyanjali Star Award

On January 16, the Government Co-ed Sarvodaya Vidyalaya in Rohini was given the Vidyanjali Star Award for raising the maximum number of requests and completing most activities. The school has so far raised 288 requests.

Apart from equipment, the school has also secured free coaching for the National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) and chartered accountancy for its students.

“One of the alumni of the school, who has now come as a teacher, donated 80 sweaters as this time the winter has been harsh,” said Kalra. Even statues of freedom fighters have been donated for the Desh Bhakti Park that the principal, AK Jha, set up on campus.

“We have been able to collect a lot of facilities for our children. One individual has even donated a table-tennis board. The computers which have been donated to us have been of great help,” said Jha.

Delhi has created its own Vidyanjali account on social media where each school shares stories detailing help they have received.

Captain Chander Sachdev, one of the volunteers wrote on the portal: “It is a thoughtful initiative of the central government. It does inject value addition to the existing education system in building a congenial, literate social order. The programme has inspired us, the senior citizens, to participate and add a purpose to our golden years. It has motivated us to come up and work in our own society for a noble cause.”

Also read 341 state run primary schools in Gujarat functioning with single classroom: Govt

In other states

However, several school principals in different parts of the country told Careers360 that they were unaware of such an initiative. Some cited similar state initiatives, many of which have been running longer than Vidyanjali.

A principal of a government school in Kerala’s tribal district, said: “We have not heard anything about this project. We have never ever raised any requests.” Another principal, Mohammad Shafi of a school in Edarikode, echoed him, saying, “We have not received any information about any such platform”.

Even principals of government schools in different districts of Uttar Pradesh were not aware of the volunteering programme.

A principal of a government school in Sultanpur district, said: “We have not heard anything about it. We have not even been told anything about the Vidyanjali project by our department. Whatever the school requires, the education department provides it.”

He instead mentioned the state initiative “Kayakalp” which has been running since 2018. The project is implemented with the help of a portal where school details are uploaded. Then an interested individual, organisation or vendor can contribute.

Not just UP, there are four other states which have been running similar projects. In Odisha “Mo School” is a similar initiative that was started in 2018; in Karnataka, there is “Namma Shaale Nanna Koduge”, wherein interested donors can directly contribute to the central development fund. A similar project in Rajasthan is called “Gyan Sankalp” in which a school can be adopted. The details of the cost required to run the school have been uploaded on the portal. In Tamil Nadu, the scheme is called “IllamThedi Kalvi”.

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