BCT – Visit Report

By | October 7, 2007

On the 19 September, I visited Bhagavatula Charitable Trust, a Not-for-Profit organization who’s vision is “To transform 100 villages in 3 mandalas, viz. Yellamanchilli, Atchyutapuram and Rambilli of Visakhapatnam District, Andhra Pradesh into model villages in such a way that all able bodied persons are gainfully employed, that substantive improvements in the state of literacy, health and economic sustenance take place and that local leadership and facilitation is fully developed.”

Here are my notes from my discussions with Mr.B.Sri Ram Murty, Joint Secretary of the organization.

Current Organization strength is around 80.
Villages Covered : 40

Activities of BCT:
Education
Agriculture
Women’s Empowerment
Skill Training for Disabled
HealthCare

Going forward, the organization will concentrate more towards Education and Livelihood training for Children and Youth.

BCT believes in Programs and not in Projects. What is the difference?
Ramesh (as Mr.Sri Ram Murty is fondly called) says “Projects have a beginning and an end which comes with a report on how the project has started, progressed and closed, submitted to organizations/people who have funded/supported the project. However, Program is more longsighted and typically does not have an ending. We believe in designing programs keeping the grass-root level problems in mind and work towards making changes in the program if necessary as it progresses”.

Let me dig a little deep into the current activities and share my observations.

Education
BCT has been into Education since the beginning (infact, the organization started with a School). BCT schools are categorized as follows:
Class 1-5 : 144 Schools
Class 6-7 : 16 Upper Primary Schools
Class 8-10 : 1 Model High School

As per research information, over 45% of Indians are un-employed and over 95% (very high number) of Graduates are un-employable (There is a lot of difference in being employed and being un-employable, I will explain in detail in another post). BCT has identified three main categories in education system and is working towards building the same and implementing in their schools:

A) Academics
B) Vocational Training
C) Values

Academics are important (Social, Science, Mathematics and Language) and taught in all schools and in all classes.

Vocation Training encompasses providing skill based training to children which will add the value of implementing what they have learned through academics. It is not mandatory that what is taught in school should be practical and implementable, but what is practical and implementable should definitely be taught during the school days.
I find this absolutely correct. If we look back, how many of us agree that what we have studied in our school / collage days is what we implement today? I really don’t know and I personally am not implementing most of the things. I did my graduation in Economics and Computer Applications during the days when ‘Career’ is only Engineering/Medicine and both subjects are of use to me today.

Values – The most important aspect of education and bringing up are “Values”. In today’s world, most of us are just being for ourself – me and my family. But, we are part of the society and we do play an important role in living in the society. Are we any time taught the principals governing “Society”. Values are most important aspect of education and this is what BCT is trying to incorporate into their education system.

One basic question I have is that India has attained independence 60 years back and the education system was build over the period of time since then. We are one of the world’s largest democracy. Is there any subject in school/collage which educates children on “Democracy”? We can vote after we turn 18, but before that, are there any classes which teach children on what is Voting? How do you select your leader? What are your responsibilities? (I do know this is what we learn in Civics subject, but that is lot more generic and I do remember what I learned). This is where we need thinking and setting direction.

Now, let us look at what BCT has in its syllabus for inducting Vocation Training and Values into their education system.
Academics – Andhra Pradesh State Syllabus is followed
Vocational Training – Orientation in Agriculture (Bio-Intensive Gardening)
Values – Moral / Ethical / National Values

What is Bio-Intensive Gardening (BIG)?
This is interesting, Each student / group of students are given a 100 Sq.Foot area in which they would need to grow vegetables for a family of 5. All the required education, seeds, medication are provided by BCT and the student(s) have to grow vegetable themselves. This teaches students to be self-sufficient as they grow.

BCT also has KVK (Krishi Vidyana Kendra) which concentrates completely on Agricultural Research.

I have also visited their Baking Department where children are taught to bake biscutes and cakes which are sold in the local market.

They have a campus for Disabled Training program which concentrates on training disabled children in paper-bag making, stitching etc.

Please note that all Vocational Training Programs which generate any money will go to the person/child who has earned the same. Each child has bank accounts which are opened by BCT and any monetary benefit will be deposited in the account.

You can see few pictures of the organization at my flickr account.

If you are interested to know more/contribute to any of their programs, please contact:

Bhagavatula Charitable Trust
BCT Farm Complex,
Haripuram – 531 061
Visakhapatnam District
Andhra Pradesh. India
+91.891.255 0084 Phone
www.bctindia.net
bctindia@yahoo.com

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