‘Umang’ School without Walls
CEE Himalaya

“We enjoy studying even in the winter. Umang is so very comfortable and joyful. It provides us not only colorful themes for studying but also prevents us from severe cold. Thank you for doing our school so nicely.”
- Students of the Government Primary School, Salamabad

“We are thankful to CEE Himalaya for doing ‘Umang’
programme in our school. We learnt many new things
about education and especially about earthquake and how we can save ourselves.” - Jahangir Ahmad, Headmaster, Government EGS Centre, Thardhi, Gingal, Uri

‘Umang’ is ‘school without walls’. The concept was developed and made functional for students from Baramullah and Kupwara districts of Jammu and Kashmir, after the devastating earthquake of Oct 8th 2005. Students, left with damaged homes and schools, were scared to visit schools and so were the parents for fear of the unforeseen.
Umang helped students to open up and express themselves to bring out their stress. This involved talking to the students in a friendly and caring manner, involving them in stories, reciting poetry, involving them in arts and crafts, games and other activities.

CEE Himalaya began this education initiative soon after the earthquake, with focus on psycho-social care and
resuming education. It also had a component of teacher’s capacity building on psychosocial care and education for sustainable development. Umang used a combination of formal and informal learning, with partly curriculumbased activities.

The objectives of the programme:

  • To provide psychosocial care to earthquake affected children of Jammu and Kashmir
  • Bring back students to schools, most of which were damaged
  • To ameliorate the fear related to damaged schools
  • Highlight the need for preparedness
  • Enhance concern and care about the local environment Selection of Schools

CEE was provided a list of 16 damaged schools by the Chief Education Offi cer, Baramulla. Among them 10 schools were short-listed by the CEE team engaged in the larger Rebuilding Trust effort. The main criteria for the selection of schools were the availability of adequate land for
construction of new class rooms and some open space and the accessibility of the school.

Reconstruction of permanent and temporary damaged schools required time. Providing students with permanent classes was diffi cult. As winter was approaching, interim schools were made with corrugated roof and walls, insulated with foam and with a lining of plywood. These were designed by Centre for Environment Planning and Technology, Ahmedabad.

Winter is very severe in Kashmir with temperatures going below 0°C. So CEE Himalaya conducted the programme in two phases, the fi rst from 26th October, 2005 to 7th December, 2005 and the second phase from 13th March, 2006 to 4th December, 2006. Over one thousand students participated in the programme and 150 teachers experienced Umang programme in the fi rst phase. This phase of Umang concentrated more on adjustment to the trauma and hence the emphasis was on the creation of interest for the students to come to school and continue their studies. The approach was to use games, a lot of fun activities, experience sharing and gradually turning towards academic activities through participatory processes. During this a very warm, soothing and healing atmosphere was sought to be developed, where teachers and students come closer. Interactive games like “Who am I”, “Catch the Leader”, “Blind Faith”, “Jilli Kaka” etc.
were played to make the atmosphere vibrant and joyous, where even the teachers participated.

The programme again continued from 13th March, 2006 to 4th December, 2006. The activities were supported by German Agro Action and Plan India in the four educational zones of the Uri Tehsil in Baramulla district and two educational zones of Kupwara district. Altogether 451
schools were covered under the programme in that phase. Over 33000 students both boys and girls and 1800 teachers benifi ted from the programme.

The second phase of the program was aimed at enhancing awareness among the students about the recent earthquake – its causes, preparation to be taken before, during and after the earthquake. In addition competitions amongst the students were made in the form of quiz,
extempore speech, etc. which aroused the inner talents of the students. CEE Himalaya team visited different schools every working day to impart the concept of environmental education to the students and the teachers alike.

Reconstruction of Damaged Schools as ‘Anandshalas’

Another component of the education initiative was reconstruction of 10 damaged schools in Uri sub-division as ‘Anandshala’ Model schools. ‘Anandshala’ literally means ‘school of joy’. The objective here was to make model rural schools that teach sustainable ways of living. This was done through improving school infrastructural facilities, involving the schools and communities in
planning, implementation and upkeep of infrastructure, imparting life skills to the students through innovative and interactive pedagogy.

Participatory Approach
Anandshalas function with full community participation. Village Level Education Committees comprising of Headmaster, Village Pradhan, Zonal Education officer were formed in each village identifi ed for the Anandshala construction.

The schools were designed in a manner that apart from the earthquake resistant construction, rooms are well lit and bigger than the size normally prevalent in the area. Doors and windows have been strategically designed and place in a manner that the rooms get maximum light and air. Separate toilets were built for girls and boys. Students were involved in the construction by asking them to design the interiors of the class rooms. Open spaces in the school were developed by teachers and students, who were given the freedom to utilise the space as per their choice and

Apart from students and teachers, the parents and other community members were constantly involved not only in the construction but also in planning for the ambience, entrance, and other issues to make the Anandshalas as per their liking and promote a feeling of owning the schools.
Regular meetings happen with the VLECs and the parents about the Anandshala philosophy, functioning and to get their views as well. Difficulties/disputes coming during the course of construction are also resolved through community consultations.

For more information contact:
Dr. Abdhesh Gangwar
CEE Himalaya, Kanli Bagh, Baba Rishi Road
Baramulla, Jammu & Kashmir 193 101
Ph: 095-2210440, 095-2235695
E-mail: ceehimalaya@ceeindia.org

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