‘The education and empowerment of women throughout the world cannot fail to result in a more caring, tolerant, just and peaceful life for all’.- Aung San Suu Kyi, Nobel Peace Prize laureate.
The Udaan Welfare Foundation is proud to be associated with the Oswal Female Education Society, Ajmer, a pioneering institution in the field of providing education to girl children, which has been in existence for over a 100 years.
This school was established on 8th September, 1912 by Shri Dhanraj Saheb Kanstiya, under the name of Shri Oswal Kanya Patthshala, Ajmer, with the primary aim of providing education for girls of the Jain community. At that time ‘Purdah Pratha’ was very much in existence and as such females were not allowed to even step out of their houses freely.
Shri Kanstiya Saheb was a farsighted visionary who believed that no girl child should remain uneducated. He was able to convince the members of the community about his mission and with their support, encouraged families to send their daughters to school on attaining the age of 5.
The school was free for the students and was run by donations received by community members. As sufficient funds for a building were unavailable, the school was run on rented premises. Shri Kanstiya Saheb took a deep personal interest in ensuring that students were regular in attendance and also introduced rewards and recognition schemes to encourage the students as well as their parents.
As the number of students increased, space became a problem. Fortunately a generous benefactor, Seth Kanmal Lodha, was willing to donate money to purchase a suitable building for the institution. As a token of gratitude, the school was renamed after the donor’s mother as Shri Gulab Kanwar Oswal Kanya Pathshala.
To meet Government regulations, a governing body was formed under the name of Oswal Female Education Society, Ajmer, which was registered in 1958. The school is managed by this society till date.
Besides government curriculum, the children are taught moral values and discipline for character- building to make them good citizens of tomorrow, as also good housewives and mothers. Students are involved in many other activities such as Students Union, arts and culture, dancing, music, traditional painting, games and yoga. Presently 450 students are on the rolls, taught by highly qualified and experienced teachers. Some students have secured 95 per cent marks in the board exams and have been awarded national scholarships.
Initially established for the children of the Jain community, today 99% of the girls are from backward, SC / ST and minority communities. The school is serving a great cause, irrespective of caste, creed and religion, in the upbringing of downtrodden and underprivileged girls over the course of a century.
The school has upgraded itself over the years to provide education till the 10th standard, while government aid is provided only for the Primary section (up to 5th standard). Unfortunately, due to a new ruling, all government aid to all aided schools has been withdrawn with effect from July 2011.
Hence, this remarkable institution which has overcome innumerable challenges in its effort to educate underprivileged girl children for a commendable period of a whole century, is on the brink of a crisis and its very existence has become uncertain. It is truly an ironic situation when one sees that only recently the Central Government has enforced a law for the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act throughout India.
Currently, this school is still running in rented premises with a strength of 450 students from Nursery to Secondary classes, in two shifts, as there are only 5 rooms in the building. The building purchased in 1930 had to be sold for Rs.24000/- in 1991 as it could not be got vacated from tenants. Due to enormous financial constraints the school cannot appoint highly qualified staff but still the school results range between 75 – 85%. The children do not have any recreational facilities, enough computers (only 5 for a class of 25 – 30 students), a science laboratory or library facilities, space being the major hindrance, due to which the school cannot be raised to Senior Secondary level. Every year the school faces a deficit of Rs. 1.5 lacs, which they strive to meet through donations from generous contributors.
Udaan received a request from the trustees of the Oswal Female Education Society, Ajmer, seeking funds for this 100 years old educational institution. Serco Intelenet Global, India, a multinational BPO with whom Udaan has been registered as an official NGO partner, was kind enough to offer their help. A team from Intelenet visited the school and was appalled to see the sorry state of this almost heritage institution, where they saw that more than 350 underprivileged girls from Pre-Primary to Std. 10 studied in a small 3-storeyed rented building. Serco Intelenet Global has already contributed Rs. 50,000/- towards the salaries of the teachers to begin with, and we hope and trust that this school gets its rightful share of well-deserved recognition and support for their commitment to society.
“When women thrive, all of society benefits, and succeeding generations are given a better start in life,” - Kofi Annan, former Secretary-General, United Nations.