Wednesday, October 23, 2013


West Bengal Education Network (WBEN) was formed in 1996 and since inception, WBEN has tried to focus on encouraging grass root level experiments on child education and block, district and State level advocacy. Currently, WBEN has its spread over 16 districts covering all corners of West Bengal and reaching to around 750 CBOs, 56 NGOs and more than 2000 individual members based in about 410 Gram Panchayats under 126Blocks. Swanirvar is now North 24 Parganas district office of WBEN and Samir Biswas, supervisor of KKB- Youth & Culture Department is now the district convener of WBEN.
            Far the last two decade, Swanirvar is trying to To develop a need-based, locally -oriented, diversified curriculum for rural high schools. Village high school students will study their local social and physical environment; do hands-on activities to learn various subjects like history, geography, economics, civics, biology, physical science, mathematics. They would develop skills for collecting, recording, organizing, understanding and communicating information; would learn some vocational skills; socially useful productive work would be integrated into various subjects; and essential activities related to local government (Panchayat) planning would get done in the process. In 2009, RTE Act passed in the Parliament and enacted in West Bengal from April, 2010.
            With the ACT come into act, the CBOs and non-profits like us got huge scopes to start right based activities for the children and also the bring the aberrations to the notice of the education officials and school authorities.
Initially we and 9 others NGOs (WEBN partner organizations)  did the followings:
  • ·         Mass awareness on RTE act, 2009 through- Street corners, Puppetry, Rally, Poster Pasting , Leaflet distribution etc
  • ·         Extensive parents meetings in different villages of North 24 Parganas district.
  • ·         Detailed dropout survey in six blocks of North 24 Parganas – Habra-II, Baduria, Hingalganj, Deganga, Habra-I, Basirhat-II, Swarupnagar, Gaighata and Hashnabad.
  • ·         Detailed survey on 21 schools and matching its compatibility and need assessments as per the RTE, 09 norms
  • ·         Capacity building programmes for the 28 CBOs and rural volunteers on pros and cons of RTE act.
  • ·         On 19th June, 12 , a press conference was called by the WBEN at Swanirvar office. There all the reports and our experiences were shared to the media personnel. 59 persons including 13 journalists and NGO representatives attended in that conference.
  • ·         A district seminar was called on 11th April, 13 on “District Status as per RTE act, 09”. N 24 Pgs Zila Savadipati, Bharat Das, Zila Karmadhakaya, Anowara Begam, Eminent Educationist and Teachers, Niranjan Bandhopadhay, many High School teachers, WBEN representatives from 14 Blocks of North 24 Parganas were present in that seminar. The speakers describe the ground status and also described the rights that the act enacted to ensure.
  • ·         A seminar was called 24th June, 13 on the same issue but in that seminar all the representatives of political parties were invited. There were a general discussion with them about the roles of political parties to ensure that RTE act, 09 should be enacted for the maximum benefit of the common people.7 Journalists, 16 WBEN district committee members and political representatives attended in that programme. 

at the WBEN seminar

Reported by,
Samir Biswas


Saturday, August 24, 2013


            Raksha Bandhan, (the bond of protection) or Rakhi is the popular practice of Raksha Bandhan has its historical associations also. The Rajput queens practised the custom of sending rakhi threads to neighboring rulers as token of brotherhood. The central ceremony involves the tying of a rakhi (sacred thread) by a sister on her brother's wrist. This symbolizes the sister's love and prayers for her brother's well-being, and the brother's lifelong vow to protect her. The festival falls on the full moon day (Shravan Poornima) of the Shravan month of the Hindu lunisolar calendar. One Islamic Scholar believes that Raksha Bandhan grew in popularity after Rani Karnavati, the widowed queen of Chittor, sent a rakhi to the Mughal emperor Humayun when she required his help. Since Indian kinship practices give cousins a status similar to siblings, girls and women often tie the rakhi to their male cousins as well (referred to as "cousin-brothers" in regional parlance) in several communities. Unrelated boys and men who are considered to be brothers (munh-bola bhai or adopted brothers) can be tied rakhis, provided they commit to a lifelong obligation to provide protection to the woman or girl.

            Swanirvar also trying to popularized Rakhi in the Govt primary schools in Deganga, Swarupnagar and Baduria Blocks of North 24 Parganas. We give them the raw materials of Rakhi and also gave hand held trainings on Rakhi making. The students made the rakhis and later they use these in their own school on Rakhi day on 21st August, 2013. Our main objective was to gospel brotherhood, love and humanity amongst the students through this Rakhi utsab. Another aspect was to organize a small cultural fest in each school and through this the students performed dances, drama, songs mostly composed by their own. This helped to boost up their level of creative skills. This year we gave materials to 94 Govt primary schools of Deagnaga and Baduria Blocks. Special focus was to the students of the 60 Sishu Siksha Kendra (Govt. Primary) of Deganga Blocks.  The students were either from schedule caste/ tribes families or minority families and mostly 1st generation learner and were from the families living below the poverty line. This year we organised Rakhi in 94 Govt Primary schools in which 10712 students participated.
Recently new local Govt had been formed at the Gram Panchayat level. Rate of Political violence and crimes were much higher in West Bengal as compared to other states of India. This year Baduria and Deganga had seen a number of blood-sheds, crimes and vandalisms by political hooligans before and after the elections. The political leaders were motivating common people to be suspicious about the cops and even in some cases the mobs attacked the police forces and damaged their vehicles and also assaulted the policemen. To reduce the tension we also organized a RAKHI BANDHAN utsab cum small cultural programme in the campus of Baduria Police Station on 21st August, 2013. 15 underprivileged students from different localities  of Baduria and Deganga Blocks came to Baduria Police station along with the staff and teachers of Swanirvar Primary Education department. The police officers and staff participated in that programme under the leadership of Mr. kollol Ghosh, Officer In Charge of Baduria PS. The students tied Rakhis to their hands and also performed some dance programmes in the campus. Mr. Ghosh preside the programme and also gave sweet boxes to all the students and also encouraged them to live with dignity and humanity. This was widely covered by the leading news papers of West Bengal and also the news were circulated in different TV channels.  
Reported by,
Prosanto Mondal & Julkalam Ali, Swanirvar

Friday, August 9, 2013


          Swanirvar staff took ‘Environmental Studies’ classes in 11 High schools on regular basis. We also gave part time inputs in 51 High schools. One of the major issues we deal with them was ‘Safe drinking Water’. Our project areas are having plenty rains amongst Indian Territory. But most of the ground water is arsenic contaminated. People are dependent on Pipe-water supplied by the local Government. We started mass awareness with students on safe water, water conservation and arsenicosis. Students arranged rally and also paste posters in different village notice boards (these notice boards are used as information kiosk in villages and developed by KKB team of Swanirvar). During their survey on safe drinking water, the student noticed that major portions of supplied water were being waste during the distribution process. There were no proper stop systems and due to the lack of funnels a portion of water was being unutilized during the filling the pots.
            Students of Bhojpara BMSF institution immediately brought these to the notice of the ‘safe water committee’ run by the students of the said institute. They identified 6 water collection centers. They raised money and purchased funnels and made mass scale awareness to the villagers to stop the indiscriminate use of drinking water. Local villagers were happy with this initiative and they had reduced the misuse of drinking water. They also aware on arsenic contamination in ground water and not using those tube wells which had alarming level of arsenic contamination .
           Inspiring by this, KKB youths of Beliakhali village took major initiative in ‘safe drinking water campaign’. This village was arsenic prone village and many villagers were suffering from arsenicosis. Once the name of the village was raised the UN meeting by the Secretary-General of the United Nations on arsenic problems. Local Panchayat authority installed a number of deep tubewell in that village to ensure the supply of safe- arsenic free drinking water under the financial assistance of UNDP. One tube well was out of order and local authority was not paying attention to repair it. The students committee met the Panchayat members and got permission to repair by their own. They visited door to doors and raised funds. Finally they repaired the tube well and at present the villagers were getting safe water.

Reported By,
Sourendra Nath Sen

Thursday, February 28, 2013


Swanirvar’s intervension  in SSK schools in Deganga Block:  
In 2004, Swanirvar gave major drive to improve the quality teaching in Govt Primary schools.Our initial objective was to identify the innovative teachers and giving trainings to them so that after that there would be a network of innovative teachers. These teachers would impart trainings in future. With our consistent efforts some of the teachers became very efficient and started doing many experiments in their schools.
In August, 2011 some of the innovative teachers who got regular inputs from us and 3 SSK supervisors met with our staff trainer – Prosanto and Gopal. They requested them for training cum workshop on English teaching. They also added that all the teachers met together four times on a month in their monthly meetings, most of the time they attended that meeting and there had administrative discussions but there was no discussion on teachers training and quality improvement of schools. These teachers also persuaded their union-leaders to draw the attentions of the higher officials. On September, 2011 Gopal and Prosnato sit with the – BDO, Deganga, Shiksha Karmadhakya (people’s representative in charge of Education), Samity Education Officer, 3 SSK Super visors, Teacher’s- Union leaders and it was decided that all the SSK teachers would get trainings from us and also Swanirvar would do regular follow up and monitoring in those schools. That English Training was given to the 60 SSK Teachers on 15th September, 2011 and 28th September, 2011 for the classes I &II.
After these trainings our trainers Julkalam , Gopal and others went for follow up visits. Their main intension was to observe the changes in Classroom management, trainings, pedagogy etc after the trainings.
We found that there were some problems:
  1..In the training session 60 participants were attending from the 60 SSK schools but this huge no of trainees were unable to do any – groups works (due to lack of space in the training hall), we also gave trainings in a participatory mode with 20-30 teachers but here we failed to do it in participatory mode. Gradually the session becoming lecture based which was against our objective.
2.All the 60 schools had on an average 4 teachers per schools and it was decided that one teacher from each school would take training and the trained teacher would gave trainings to his colleagues. But most teachers demanded for training from Swanirvar trainers rather than their colleagues.
3.There was a Teaching Learning Materials (TLMs) making session in the training and the trainees made a few TLMs which were became very popular in their schools. Other teachers who did not attended the training programme demanded for TLMs from their SSK supervisors.
4. Deganga is one of the backward blocks and consists of 13 Gram Panchayats. SSK teachers also demanded for area wise trainings so that they get more time in the session.  
5.  Some of them also asked for a strong follow ups and TLM workshops. 
6. After that there was a review meeting was held in the month of October, 12. In that meeting, some resolutions were taken jointly by the Education Nodal officials, SSK supervisors, SSK teacher’s Union Leaders and Swanirvar Training team. These were as follows:
A.Training would be zone wise and the block was divided into 9 zones.
B. All the SSK teachers would take part in the trainings.  
C. There would be subject wise trainings- 1Subject/day and 6 hrs per day.
D. Training would held on either Sunday or Govt. holiday.  
E. Training cost – Food and Transport would bourn by the teachers. They could request local Panchayat to arrange their meal.
F. Along with 3 SSK supervisors, Julkalam Ali of Swanirvar would do the necessary follow ups.
G.  As per the demand from the schools: there would be TLM making workshops in each zone.
H.Some of the best SSK schools would follow Swanirvar models and they will introduce – Parents meeting, Parents workshop, children committee, Art and Craft, Rakhi and Special day’s celebrations in their schools.
Training given to SSK teachers
From November, 2012 to till date, 14 trainings had been organized by Swanirvar in which 187 teachers from 48 schools has participated. They had been given hand-held trainings on Mathematics and Bengali for class-I and II. These would help more than 3000 students. Beside these subjective trainings, TLM workshops were organized with the 95 teachers of 24 SSK schools.  

Reported by,
Primary Training Team, Swanirvar
28th Feb, 2013

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


Nests making in EVS classes
         Our staff regularly took Environmental Studies (EVS) classes in different High schools. We always gave hand held trainings to the students rather than bookish memorization. The syllabus of EVS in Class VI gave emphasis on the life cycle of local avian species, its food habits, roosting lands, different nest making techniques, physical characteristics and colours, etc. In the month of September, 2012, two of our staff, Dhiman Mondal and Kankar Gayen who took classes in Maheshpur High school and Media high school respectively made a field survey on the birds and its different characteristics with the students of class –VI. The collected data from the surveys revealed that the numbers of birds were gradually reducing. When the students met the old people in the villages they came to know about some of the bird species like – sparrow, Bank Myna, vulture, Barn Owl, bulbul, common Snipe, little egrets, Swin ho Snipe, warbler, reed, Pipit and all kind of swampy land birds were going to extinct.
They also came to know the following reasons for the extinctions:

 Indiscriminate use of pesticides.
 Lace of space for their living.
 Most of the villages had no big tress and the birds living on the holes of the big trees were unable to survive.
 People were hunting them for flesh.
 Most of the swampy lands were being illegally occupied by the local land mafias and they were transferring them into ponds. The water became stagnant and unsuitable for the survivals of the swampy land birds, etc.

Nest installing in the trees
          They expressed their finding in charts and posters and also shared with the senior students. They decided to install some artificial nests for the birds in the tress adjacent to the schools. Whenever they proposed their ideas to the Class Teachers and Principal they immediately gave them the permission for the same. They collected unused earthen pots, wooden boxes and some utensils for making small houses for the birds. They made a number of small nests in their EVS classes and installed them on the trees. They made groups and started observing. Initially the birds were avoiding the nests but gradually they started living on it. In December, two volunteer from AID, USA visited Swanirvar and they also came to know from the students about their project. They visited the places where the small nests were installed and found that the birds were living happily. Now we are planning to spread this successful model in different villages.
Installing Nests on Tress
          Another aspect was that this work done by the small children also influenced their parents and they also took interest in bird conservation. In some villages, the villagers resisted the bird hunters/ Catchers and taken them to local Panchayats. Our youth groups also did  mass campaigns on the bird conservation in different villages.

Reported by,
Souren Sen,
KKB Team

Street Corners on Right to Education Act-2009

Meeting on RtE act-09 in Kolsur

          13 Dec, 2012:  A street corner meeting was held on Right To Education ( RtE) Act, 2009 at the adjacent area of Kolsur Gram Panchayat. The resource persons were two local teachers as well as the Berachampa Circle High School RtE Act-09 and the Barachampa Circle Primary School RtE Act-09, respectively, The Secretary, Kolsur High School, Local Shiksha Bandhu, Librarian, Ex- teacher and the recipient of National award, Amarendra Nath Das and many other retired teachers and educationist were also present in that meeting. On behalf of The West Bengal Education Network (WBEN), Susmita Chanda and staff of Swanirvar were also present. The meeting was started at 3pm with a group performance (stick dance) of the students of Swanirvar Primary school, Chandalati. Then the speakers expressed their opinions and different aspects of the RtE act, 2009 passed by the Indian Parliament. They also expressed the pros and cons and also told the audience how the common people would be benefited through it. They also expressed the roles and duties of the schools/ teachers / CBOs mentioned in the act. The meeting was ended at 7pm. Two similar meetings were also held on the same topics on 16th Dec, 12 at Beliakhali and Chandalati villages.
Reported By:
Souren Sen
KKB Team, Swanirvar