Chanch Bandar village of Rajula taluka in Amreli district is a peninsula that juts into the Arabian Sea. When Rajeshkumar Sakariya joined the school in 1999, there were about 500 students enrolled in school and seven teachers. The villagers suffered from the fairly common problems of lack of drinking water, poor roads, and so on. The village was large, with about 12,000 people.  It was geographically disadvantaged; there was no scope for agricultural or any other economic activity. Hence most of the people migrated in search of livelihoods. They took their children with them, and when they returned the children had either to be admitted into the same class or they dropped out. The teachers were, however, very popular, and the school had a number of co-curricular activities.  
The periodic migration was an issue and Rajeshkumar discussed this problem with his colleagues. They were of the opinion that migration was something not in their control and that the parents had to decide whether they wanted their children to study or not. Most of the villagers went out as labourers for about seven to eight months in a year. They moved from place to place in search of work and hence the scope for educating their children in other schools was non-existent.
Rajeshkumar and his colleagues then initiated discussions with the parents. Though many of them wanted their children to get educated, they were worried about the food, shelter and care of the children if they had to be left behind. Rajeshkumar offered to become responsible for 10 students who were in Classes 5-7; they were fairly good at their studies and had no else apart from their parents. A few of his colleagues joined him and took responsibility for three children. Meanwhile the older teachers were transferred out, and Rajeshkumar took charge as head teacher. He and his colleagues made a determined attempt to find a more permanent solution that did not have to rely on teachers adopting children. They organized a parents’ meeting and came up with a plan for converting the school into a hostel. The year 2003 saw the beginnings of the first
residential camp. Seventy students became inmates of this camp. The village youth, the teachers and their friends were partners in this venture—contributing to the food. Two women were engaged as cooks. The fuel for cooking was wood obtained from surrounding villages. Students were provided with breakfast and meals at mid-day and in the evening. Extra coaching was provided beyond school hours. During regular school hours they studied in their respective classes with other children. At night the teachers organized various activities like bhajans, competitions, games, cultural programmes and story telling.  Younger children who found it difficult to bathe, wash clothes, and dress on their own were helped by a woman volunteer from the village. The following schedule was followed at the residential school:
 Time Activity
6.00 am Getting up – cleaning and morning routine
7.30 am Prayer
8.00 am Breakfast
8.30 am Cleaning
9.00 am Multi-grade teaching (by teacher)
10.00 am Recess 30
10.30 am School–academic education
12.00 noon Mid-day meal
5.30 pm Games and playing on the sea shore
6.30 pm Cleaning
7.00 pm Prayer, story telling, roll-call, and discussion
8.00 pm Supper
9.00 pm Multi-grade remedial teaching (by teacher)
10.00 pm Sleep
The following extra-curricular activities were organized: visiting religious places on
Sundays or holidays, sports competitions, creating a library, games, cultural competitions, plays and drama, essay competitions, cleanliness competitions, cricket, educational games, drawing competitions, compiling bhajans, rhymes and children’s songs, prayer collections, general knowledge collection, ras-garba competitions.
As shown in the time-table students who had problems were identified and given extra coaching after school hours in order to promote them to a grade suitable to their age. They were classified and each teacher was assigned one class. At the end of the academic year, the students were examined and were promoted to the appropriate class. Thus they had the opportunity to be with their old class-fellows.
Number of students promoted in the first three years: 
Standard Number of students Class to which promoted
1 2 2
2 3 3
3 4 4
4 6 5
5 3 6
6 3 7
7 1 8
Total: 22
Through extra coaching, 22 students benefited. Gradually the problem of stagnation was solved because of the residential school. It started with 70 students in 2003; there were 100 students in 2004 and 128 in 2005.
For the first two years, the residential school was run with the people’s support. After two years, the District Education Committee noticed the venture; the Committee visited the school and recommended it for a grant under the ‘Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan’. Inspired by this endeavour, residential camps at Patwal and Rajula, on the coastal strip, have been established.
At the end of the first season, when the parents came back at the onset of the monsoon, they were extremely happy to see their children in good health; they were surprised to see the children’s progress in studies as well as their cultural development. They began to praise and thank the teachers and prepared to settle down in the village for the 31 monsoon; but the children preferred to stay on in their residential school. All the teachers felt happy at this outcome.
However, sustainability has been an issue. Rajeshkumar was transferred in August 2006. The other teachers who had helped run the hostel found it difficult now. So, after a lot of discussion, the head of a nearby ashram school, the Sarvjanik Kelvani Mandal, accepted responsibility for the children studying in the residential program.  
In his new school (since late 2006) Rajeshkumar addressed drinking water shortage by getting a pipeline installed with the school development grant and a community fund. He also revived his previous experiment in residential education. There were about 200 Agariya (saltpan) children in the school. Many of them migrated along with their parents for a few months during the year. There were about 40 children who would benefit from a residential education program. Rajeshkumar proposed this idea, but the headmaster and co-teachers felt it would be too heavy a responsibility. He then talked to community leaders and the parents of the 40 children. As a result, a parental consent document was prepared, and this was presented to the headmaster. Rajeshkumar took up sole responsibility for the venture. Getting electricity supply became critical, but the school did not have the required Rs 8000. The people promised to collect the funds, but in the meanwhile an old woman staying next to the school agreed to supply power from her domestic connection. The camp was run for a year, but Rajeshkumar found it difficult to run it alone and so wound it up. He got some of the children enrolled in a residential hostel at the block centre. Rajeshkumar, however, has not given up the idea of a residential school and has applied for a permanent facility to the government (December 2009).


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