RITE – RCME’S INITIATIVE FOR TRAINING AND EDUCATION
Global grants are the jewels in the crown of projects executed by RCME. Over the years, our members have worked diligently in identifying worthy projects, recipients and partner clubs, maintaining relationships with existing partners and raising funds to complete 17 matching and global grant projects worth over US $ 800,000. RCME Global Grant teams invest a lot of time and effort in identifying worthy beneficiaries, the most suitable vendors and economical best prices and follow up by monitoring and evaluating completed projects. Follow up grant projects are not unusual at RCME.
This year too, RCME has taken up the much needed cause of ‘Empowering the Girl Child’. RITE (acronym for RCME’S Initiative for Training and Education) is the first grant project of this current rotary year. Rotarians Rtns Divya Siddharth, Janaka Pushpanathan and Suresh Krishnamurthy have done an admirable job in planning and executing this one.
This grant’s beneficiary, Sri Ramakrishna Math Vivekananda Centenary Girls Higher Secondary School at Mint, an underserved area in North Chennai, is part of the Ramakrishna Mission group of institutions. RCME has been working with this Mission for the past 5 years and has contributed equipment to the tune of Rs.1.3crores (US $ 200,000) through different projects, primarily in the area of vocational service. This particular school was started in 1962 as a part of Swami Vivekananda’s Birth Centenary celebrations and to satisfy the need for an educational institution for girls living in the area.
The school has, over the years, grown to become one of the best in the locality and currently caters to over 800 students, 65% coming from underprivileged households and 32% belonging to the lower middle class. Most of the students’ parents work as coolies, daily labourers, housemaids or drivers. Despite their challenges, over 5000 girls have studied here and have brought laurels to the schools, working as doctors, engineers and IT professionals.
RCME’s RITE involves setting up of an air-conditioned computer lab with 33 computers andprovision of energy saving lights and fans aimed at reducing the institution’s power bill. In association with India Literacy Project (ILP), teaching methodologies are sought to be improved. Students will be encouraged to pursue experiential learning, creative thinking and problem solving. The ILP intervention will be both a during and an after school program that provides multi-dimensional learning opportunities for children, equipping them with academic and life skills. This intervention is planned not just in this girls school, but in three other government schools too. A teachers’ training programme for dyslexia remediation in association with Madras Dyslexia Association, the acknowledged leaders in this field, is also being planned.
The grant project, worth Rs37 Lakhs, is beingimplemented in partnership with the Rotary Club of Irvine, CA,USA and The Rotary Foundation. The families of two of our own members, Rtns S Prabhu and Raghuraman Ramakrishnan have also contributed significantly to this project.
It was a cool and pleasant morning on the 9th of November, the day chosen for the inauguration of this project. The girls assembled in the school’s ground early, were smartly dressed in their uniforms and were seated in an orderly manner. Their energy and enthusiasm was both positive and infectious. The school band played a merry tune to welcome the rotarians, the District Governor and particularly, the Chief Guest, Hon’ble Justice Dr.Anita Sumanth, a judge of the Madras High Court.
The inauguration function started with Aarthi offered to the deities in the new computer lab. Justice Dr. Anita Sumanth, inaugurated the lab by lighting the traditional lamp and unveiling a commemoratory plaque. She also handed over a laptop and projector to the representative of India Literacy Project, symbolically commencing that initiative. Post the inauguration it was time to join the students in the assembly.
The school children started off the assembly with a prayer song. After President RMN gave a snapshot of the Global Grant and the significance of this project, Swami Vimurthananda, Manager Sri Ramakrishna Math, addressed the students and gave excellent insights on the importance of education and the importance of women empowerment. He emphasized that while today they were receiving largesse, it was important that they should also give at a later stage. In a moving gesture, he extolled the students to take a vow that in their lifetime they would give back something to the society and help empower those who are lesser privileged than them. District Governor (RI Dist 3232), Rtn Babu Peram, paid glowing tributes to RCME’s projects and mentioned that the club’s theme was a laudable objective.
The Chief Guest,Justice Dr.Anita Sumanth, delivered a truly inspiring talk. As a public officer, she had some criteria to look at while deciding to participate in an event – whether the event was conducted by a professional body or by a Not-for-Profit organization or whether any educational institution was involved. All these criteria were fulfilled in this case justifying her participation, she stated. There was also a professional body involved in this project, in that, there were many chartered accountants and advocates in our club who were her professional colleagues whilst she had practiced in the Bar prior to assuming office as a judge.
Justice Dr. Anita Sumanth quoted Swami Vivekananda extensively and elaborated on his thoughts. With empowerment comes responsibility, she said. You cannot separate both. One has to use technology with responsibility, especially as cyber-crime was on the rise.Chief Guest also stated that empowering women was not about giving them opportunities, but about giving them the freedom to create those opportunities. She reminded the girls that they were a blessed lot to be able to have education and that they must ensure to pass on the same benefits to others who are less fortunate. Progression and development must never be at the cost of tradition and culture was her emphatic advice to the girls. Justice Anita concluded by alluding again to Swami Vivekananda’s thought that Man and Woman are like the two wings of a bird. Just as a bird cannot fly with one wing, there is no chance for welfare of the world unless the condition of woman is improved.It was indeed a thought-provoking talk and it was obvious that the Chief Guest had taken a lot of effort to reach out to the girls.
The inauguration ended on a high note with the felicitation of the Chief Guest, District Governor and the donors by RCME and Ramakrishna Math. The customary group photograph rounded up the delightful morning proceedings.
For more photos of the event please click the below link