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Blogs and Outcomes

  • 6 Dec 2019 8:17 PM | Umesh Shilvant (Administrator)

    Background

    Northen Karnataka districts were severely affected by heavy floods during August 2019. Belagavi district was the most affected. Hundreds of schools were submerged in 5-10 ft water for more than a week. Many buildings and classrooms were severely damaged.Schools also lost their records, library books, TV, projectors, computers, etc.

    Government has been working on a war-footing to fix these flood and rain ffected schools. But this is a gigantic task. Government’s first priority is to provide houses and living to the population at large of this area. Government plans to release Rs 2 lakhs per school for repairs. Considering the amount of damage, this may not be sufficient to provide sufficient infrastructure to these schools.

     

    About OSAAT

    OSAAT is a young organization and was started in 2003 by a few like-minded philanthropists originally from Karnataka, living in the San Francisco Bay area. What started as a private effort on their part to help some of the needy schools in rural Karnataka resulted in many more people getting interested, and ultimately in the formation of OSAAT.

    As of date (November 2019), OSAAT has completed 29 School projects. 23 are in Karnataka and the rest are in the states of Meghalaya, Bihar, Maharashtra and Uttarpradesh. OSAAT currently is working on few more projects in Tamilnadu, Orissa and Andhrapradesh as well.

    OSAAT is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization (USA tax Id: 20 2043649, India tax Id: AAATO3310P, trademark: 85121815) dedicated to helping rebuild infrastructure of underprivileged, rural schools in India. A totally volunteer-run organization, OSAAT has no administrative costs, and utilizes 100% of your donation to build a strong, safe and healthy learning environment for kids in rural India, by adopting one school at a time.

    Reports from Print Media

     

    What OSAAT has done so far

    Immediately after the floods, considering the gravity of the situation, OSAAT decided to give priority for flood and rain-affected schools for the near future. OSAAT contacted the local BEOs of Hukkeri, Athani, Mudalagi, Gokak taluks and through them got a list of around 30 schools that were affected by floods. The OSAAT team visited these schools in late August and September 2019. Based on OSAAT’s selection criteria, the team shortlisted around 10 severely affected schools where OSAAT can build the required infrastructure.

    Out of these schools, OSAAT is already working on the Engineering planning of 5 schools. OSAAT expects to start these schools in the month of January. These schools are:

    1. Govt Kannada Higher Primary School, Masaguppi, Mudalagi taluk – construct 6 classrooms and toilet block

    2. Govt Kannada Higher Primary School, Rajakatti, Hukkeri taluk – construct 4 classrooms and toilet block

    3. Govt Kannada Higher Primary School, Avaragol, Hukkeri taluk – construct 6 classrooms and toilet block

    4. Govt Kannada Higher Primary School, Katrala, Athani taluk – construct 6 classrooms and toilet block

    5. Govt Kannada Higher Primary Boys and Girls Schools, Sunadholi, Mudalagi taluk – construct 4 classrooms and toilet block.

    Few photos depicting the current situation at these schools are below:

    How Can you help Flood impacted Schools

    You can choose to donate and contribute in many number of ways:

    - Donate any amount

    - Adopt a school in its entirety or portions of a school such as a classroom, a library

    - Donate and have your company match your donation to double your gift

    - Donate online at osaat.org, or write us a check

    If you want to volunteer and give our time please get in touch with us. If you have benefactors who would can contribute as civil contractors, builders, material suppliers and who can work with us without profit motives, introduce them as well. Such efforts are effective only when all of us come together as a community in helping those in need.

  • 11 Sep 2019 9:58 AM | Anonymous

    Education is the foundation of any nation and economy. Well educated citizens form the backbone of a country. Education opens up a whole new world of ideas, possibilities, opportunities, enables different perspectives, bring about inclusiveness, wealth of knowledge and well-being to name a few. It enables students’ bring about a viewpoint, have an opinion, a say, question the obvious and nurtures creativity.

    According to the HRD Ministry, education spend in India is around 4.6% of GDP currently (Source: Economic Times, Mar 2019). In spite of this, India’s literary rate is at 72.1% (Source: UNESCO list of countries by literary rate (2015)) while the world average is at 86.3%. There is no doubt we have tremendous scope for improvement.

    While there is significant improvement in the education system in urban India, rural India has a lot of catching up to do. There are societal and cultural issues, which discourages a child’s education (especially girls), lack of financial support and lack of proper infrastructure support, which hinders the students’ to pursue their dream of getting basic education.

    Adding to this, the recent floods in different parts of the country has had a debacle effect on the infrastructure. News have been flashing across all social media platforms, newspapers,both national and international, and other communication channels on the miserable state of villages and schools. A new report estimated that nearly 5000 schools were damaged in Karnataka alone. Probably equal or more number of schools were damaged across Maharashtra and other parts of India. Heart wrenching photos of students trying to collect their floating books, wrecked desks and chairs, debris of the broken building, children trying to reassemble the pages of their text/notebooks in the hope of trying to give them some shape, teachers conducting classes under the trees and so on have surfaced on social media.

    Whilst the damage is done, there is definitely hope and possibilities to rebuild and bring back the hope to the fading dreams of these students.

    In an effort towards this OSAAT – One School At A Time – has taken upon itself to work tirelessly with the school staff, teachers and students of identified schools to rebuild the infrastructure and to enable continuous learning of the impacted students. Our volunteers are visiting flood affected villages and accessing the damages to the schools. We have visited more than 20 schools so far and we have been evaluating the damage and shortlisting the most deserved one.





    Towards this endeavor, we have already taken up work in Govt Higher Primary School in Musagupi, Gokak Taluk, Belagavi District. This school has a total of 326 students of which 174 are girls and 152 are boys. We are also planning to take up atleast 10 more schools in Karnataka and 10 schools in Maharashtra. Each of these projects are estimated to cost upward of 50 lakhs. It has been our on-going effort to seek donors to support us in this noble cause.





    Our efforts have been possible with the support and partnership of like-minded donors, institutes, corporates, volunteers and other NGO’s.




    Access to basic education is every student’s right. Together we can … lets join hands in making this basic necessity of every child become reality!

  • 13 May 2019 10:36 AM | Anonymous

    When we, at OSAAT, accept the proposal to construct a new building for a school, there are a number of discussions that happen to understand how to go about building the school. The architects & building contractors involved in this process dig deep into understanding the best, most efficient & environmentally sustainable approach in bringing up the building.

    OSAAT’s mission is to build a strong, safe and healthy learning environment for kids in rural India. We strive to do so without compromising the environment, aesthetics or practicality. Let me illustrate what I mean.

    OSAAT’s mission is to build a strong, safe and healthy learning environment for kids in rural India

    First, let us look at the school in Rampura. For the construction of the walls, soil-cement blocks were used. These blocks are made using the soil available locally. With just 5% cement mixed in, these blocks are completely eco-friendly. Since these blocks were prepared on-site, we were able to completely forego the transportation cost that would have been incurred with the traditional burnt bricks or the cement blocks. The blocks were made by the local workforce and this helped the local families in terms of employment and prevented displacement of the labor force. These blocks provide an additional benefit of thermal comfort which, in the long run, helps the school reduce the usage of electricity. We also installed a rain-water harvesting system, which will eventually help improve the underground water levels. Also, to help explain rain-water harvesting to students, teachers now have a working model within their premises. We also used polycarbonate shutters for windows, which are strong enough to withstand any intentional damage by anti-social elements. Traditional glass windows can break easily and are difficult to replace. Lastly, we wanted to improve the aesthetics of the building. Having a new building always brings out positive energy, but having it painted in a manner never seen before is an added bonus! We chose Dussehra as the theme for painting the front of the school, and we had the interior of each class room painted with playful, yet inspirational themes. This is the first time ever that something like this has been done at a government school.

    Dussehra theme for the front view


    Classroom walls painted to improve aesthetics


    Polycarbonate shutters for windows


    Rain water harvesting system

    Next, we will look at the government school in Aben. This is OSAAT’s first ever project in the state of Manipur. Situated in a geographically challenging terrain, the school could not be built using the traditional building materials. Since the school is located in a remote location, transportation of materials was the most challenging aspect. To negate this issue, we decided to use only the locally available materials. All the materials used to re-layer the tin roof, cement the floor, replace of broken windows, construct a new toilet for girls were sourced from local vendors. Even though traditional construction materials were not used, we made it a point to use environmentally friendly yet structurally sound materials. Lastly, due to the location constraints, the school had issues with having constant electricity supply. To provide the necessary lighting, solar lighting was introduced. The school now has continuous electricity for its day-to-day needs and classes are not disrupted because of electricity issues.

    Let us now take a look at the High School in Gaini village. This project is different from others as this was done in partnership with Mr. Arun Nagpal of Mrida Group, an organization dedicated to sustainable rural development using eco-friendly, organic and green methods. This project helped us understand what all can be done to put in place a simple, subtle, yet sophisticated look and feel for the entire project. We put in place a low/optimum cost design but with safety and longevity as a core criterion. Apart from using locally available, sustainable & eco-friendly resources, we also installed a rain-water harvesting system to help improve the water reserves

    Apart from the ones mentioned above, I would also like to highlight two more schools which are still under construction - Govt Model Higher Primary Girls School, Malur town, Kolar district, Karnataka & Govt. Higher Primary School, Benkipura Village, Hunsuru Taluk, Mysore District, Karnataka. The school in Malur is being constructed using clay hollow blocks. These blocks have been selected because of their eco-friendly aspect. Apart from being 100% natural, these blocks keep the interiors cool during summer and warm during winter. The blocks enjoy good compressive strength, thereby making them an ideal material for infill masonry. Unlike cement blocks or solid bricks, clay hollow blocks are factory made and hence we are sure about the quality of the blocks. Most of the cement blocks or solid bricks encounter quality issue, which can lead to dampness and/or cracks. The other advantage of clay hollow block is that it gives a different feel to the building. To improve the aesthetics, only a part of the wall is plastered, and this has helped save construction cost. The school in Benkipura is being constructed using Puf Panel sheets due to the remote location of the school and the difficulty in capturing skilled local workforce. Puf Panel sheet helps us in reducing both the time and the cost of construction. Puf panels have high thermal efficiency, which ensures low heat transmission thereby resulting in energy savings. Because government schools find it hard to maintain the school infrastructure, Puf panel sheet has the added benefit of being maintenance free. Therefore, the funds received from the government can be used for teaching aids rather than on maintenance.


    Rendered image of Malur school


    GHPS, Benkipura constructed using Puf Panel sheets

    OSAAT always believes in adopting methods and measures that are progressive and result in a positive impact. Yes, our motto is to build a strong, safe and healthy learning environment for kids in rural India. If it means using locally available resources, be it labor or material, to provide an environmentally sustainable and cost-effective infrastructure without compromising strength and safety, we will explore and implement all such solutions.

    To know more about each of the above schools in detail, please visit our site https://osat17.wildapricot.org/. We are always looking for innovative ideas when we take up a new school. If you have an idea that meets our objectives and can make a positive impact on our school projects, we would like to hear from you. Feel free to drop us a note below.

  • 20 Feb 2019 8:23 PM | Umesh Shilvant (Administrator)

    The fact is that most of the Government schools in India were build in the 1930s & 1940s. Since the buildings are over 70 years old, they have deteriorated to a state which is no longer safe for schooling activities. However due to lack of alternate options, the school management continues to run the schooling activities within these crumbling structures causing grave danger to the students and the faculty members.

    The incident at Morarji Desai Residential School is very saddening. This child was the only child of her parents. Any dreams they may have had to see her grow, see her celebrate her birthdays and graduate and see her have a family of her own all are dashed. The child's own dreams of whatever she wanted to accomplish are also dashed. The child’s death could have happened as a result of any unavoidable circumstance; but it happened due to something that was totally avoidable and for which the solution is within reach. Incidents such as this affect other students psychologically. It may not be surprising to see parents pulling out their kids from such schools simply for the fear of such incidents getting repeated. Also due to lack of better options, these kids could then be deprived of education for no fault of theirs. Today the incident happened at a school in Mulbagal, Kolar but tomorrow something similar or worse could happen at some other school due to the current infrastructure problem.

    “OSAAT wants to make sure that no student life gets wasted because of poor school infrastructure”

    We are committed to rebuild the infrastructure of rural schools in India. We want to make sure that the students are studying in a safe and strong environment. This is why we, at OSAAT, put our hearts and souls into the work we do. There are problems in the world that cannot be fixed easily - famine, war, rampant diseases, cruel governments, and so on. But this child's death was avoidable. The news article says that there will be action taken against the contractor who built the wall, the person that rented the school building and so on. While all that is background noise, we look at working on the tangible solutions. We want to create a sense of enthusiasm among the students when they go to school and not worry about other aspects such as the school infrastructure.

    When we decide to go ahead with a project, we not only look at delivering good quality classrooms for the students to study but also look at building quality toilets to make sure that incidents such as the one at Morarji Desai Residential School are avoided. When the proposal to construct the school at Nagavalli was accepted, we realized the importance of constructing quality toilets especially because of the number of girls in the school. We had come to know that girls would take hours to finish off their toilet breaks. Because of this, many girls avoided using the toilet provided by the school and would go back home to use the toilets after which they would mostly not return to the school. We wanted to make sure that students, studying at Nagavalli government school, get the required toilet infrastructure for their physical health and well-being perspective as well as for the emotional peace of mind for them and their parents. From this project on, we made it a point to build quality toilets in all the schools along with the school main building.

    OSAAT is also working with many NGOs, that are focused on providing sanitation facility, to channel their resources to build quality toilets for other government schools, which lack the necessary toilet infrastructure.

    Below are some pictures of the toilets that OSAAT has built for

    Government schools at Nagavalli and Rampura.


  • 20 Feb 2019 9:39 AM | Umesh Shilvant (Administrator)

    November 17th 2018 is a date that students from Government Higher Primary School, Rampura will remember for the rest of their lives. It is that day when OSAAT (One School At A Time) in association with Rotary handed over the newly constructed school building to students of GHPS, Rampura. This is OSAAT’s 24th project aimed at replacing the aging infrastructure of government schools in India.

    The newly constructed school has 5 classrooms, a fully equipped toilet and a compound wall, which now secures the school on all 4 sides. This school is special even for OSAAT volunteers because this is the first time that OSAAT has implemented a few new things such as a rain water harvesting system, constructing the school by using eco-friendly soil-cement blocks and improving the aesthetics with themed paintings on both the interior and the exterior walls of the school.

    All the volunteers from OSAAT were welcomed with warmth and affection on the inauguration day. The inauguration was graced by Dr. Yathindra Siddaramaiah, MLA Varuna Constituency, Mr. Vadiraja Bhatt, Founder, OSAAT & Mr. Ravishankar Byrappagowda, President, OSAAT, USA; to celebrate this special occasion, the school children danced beautifully to the song “Hachevu Kannadada Deepa”; also present at the inauguration were teachers from GHPS, Cholenhalli (OSAAT’s 17th school) who spoke about how their education system improved after OSAAT provided them with a new school building and about the importance of maintaining the school premises.

    Lastly, a shout out to the donors - Mitel, GT Nexus, Employees from AllGo Embedded Systems, to Mr. K Srinivasan, Project Champion, GHPS - Rampura and to other OSAAT volunteers for their significant contributions towards the successful handover of the school building to the Rampura area.

    Below are some of the pictures of the old school building

    Below are some of the pictures of the new school building, the classrooms, the toilets & the rainwater harvesting system


  • 10 Feb 2019 9:41 AM | Umesh Shilvant (Administrator)

    Kuruvinakoppa village is located in Kalaghatagi Taluk, Dharwad District, Karnataka State, and is about 22 k.m. south of Dharwad city. The Government Higher Primary school at Kuruvinakoppa was established in the year 1914.

    When OSAAT took up this project in 2015, out of 11 classrooms in the school building, 4 classrooms were in a dilapidated condition, and had been ordered for demolition by the Education Department because of the threat it posed to the safety of the children. Under OSAAT’s “Adopt A School” program, Mr. Sanjeev Acharya, President and CEO of Silicon Sage Builders, Santa Clara, California, USA, graciously funded the entire project cost for the construction of 2 brand new classrooms.

    Our team from OSAAT recently visited the school to get a feel for the changes at the newly constructed school. Below are some of the observations by Mr. Srinivas Subramanian, an OSAAT Volunteer:

    1. The student strength has increased from 435 in 2015 to 455 in 2018 (an increase of ~5%). The increase in student strength is very positive given that government schools have seen a considerable reduction in student strength, over the years, for lack of quality infrastructure.

    2. There has been an increase in student participation in extra-curricular activities. This has helped the school in securing prizes & recognition in various competitions.

    3. Mr. S.P. Kale, Head master of GHPS Kuruvinakoppa, informed that he was very pleased with two noticeable improvements - attendance and enthusiasm. The change in mindset has helped students to even get admissions in Navodaya schools for higher education.

    4. After OSAAT’s intervention and subsequent increase in student strength, the Government of Karnataka sanctioned funds for the construction of 6 additional classrooms.

    OSAAT is proud to be an enabler of change. We want to help schools that show interest and willingness to impart quality education to its students. While OSAAT facilitates quality infrastructure to schools, it expects the school management to focus on providing quality education. The positive impact on the students of GHPS Kuruvinakoppa, after the construction of the two classrooms, is a testament to this.

    With OSAAT’s intervention, the school now has a new look. The Kuruvinakoppa village community is very proud of their new school’s look.

    Below are some pics of the old class rooms:

    Below are the pics of the new class rooms provided by OSAAT :

    Below is the pic of the additional classrooms that the Government of Karnataka help build after OSAAT’s intervention :



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