The Viswa Bharati Vidyodaya Trust is a charitable body registered (No. 41 of 1993) under the Indian Trusts Act. Its registered office is 12/669B, Thottamoola, Gudalur – 643 212, The Nilgiris, Tamilnadu. It has nine members on the board of Trustees, which includes the Managing Trustee. Five of the Trustees are from the adivasi community.
The VBVT’s first programme was the Vidyodaya School, a school modelled along an alternative pedagogy. They were:
- Cooperation and group work
- Possibility for children to work at their own pace
- Co-curricular activities given equal importance
- A firm value-base
This school was open to local public and although there was hesitation initially from the public, it was very successful.
The Trust had also been interacting with the Adivasi Community of Gudalur and coordinating the educational programmes for ACCORD, a sister NGO working exclusively with adivasis. VBVT undertook to train the Adivasi Teacher Volunteers, follow-up of the non-formal centre of ACCORD and thirdly, provide the supervisory support to the Adivasi Teachers who were placed in the Government’s Tribal Schools. However, the Vidyodaya School remained its central activity.
In 1996, on a request from the adivasi community, the Trust decided to concentrate its activities on the Adivasi Community of Gudalur Block. Its first step was to open the school to adivasi children. Our experience with the government’s tribal schools had clearly shown that unless the school had adivasis as teachers the children would not respond favourably for reasons of familiarity as well as language.
Initially around 15 children were expected to join the school, but as many as 43 sought admission. Since then the strength has steadily grown. From 2004 the school has had around 100 students, all of whom are adivasi children, except for one or two staff children. The school does not have the space to accommodate more and so we have been compelled to stop further admissions.
In 1996, the Trust also took on four adivasi educated youth, who were previously working in the Govt. Residential Schools as Tribal volunteers, to train as Teachers on an experimental basis. This programme of in-service training worked well and so the following year 10 more of these volunteers were taken on for training. Of these four left during the year as they found other sources of employment. The rest have continued and today form the Education Team, which handles the entire education programme.
In the year 2000, the VBVT decided that the adivasi community, having seen their children’s progress in Vidyodaya school, was now ready for an educational intervention and so launched a major programme covering 138 of the 303 adivasi villages of the two taluks of Gudalur Block. By 2004 it had covered 185 villages.
The thrust of VBVT’s work has been to ensure 100% enrolment in all these villages. In order to provide motivational and academic back-up to these children who were going to school, an Outreach programme of Camps, Mobile library, Science experiments, and village level institutions such as tuition centres, non-formal centres and such other programmes were also undertaken.
Currently, VBVT is striving hard to ensure enrolment and improve the quality of education of the children through various programmes.