Reeling under an acute shortage of teachers and staff, government schools across the country can now draft volunteers to promote co-scholastic activities such as reading, creative writing, public speaking and play acting among its students from classes I to VIII.
The HRD Ministry on Thursday launched an initiative called ‘Vidyanjali’ to encourage youngsters to volunteer their services at any neighborhood government school. Retired teachers, professionals government officials, defence personnel and women, who are home makes, can also offer to help under this programme, which has been started on a pilot basis across 2,200 government schools in 21 states.
“This will also afford an opportunity to the NRIs who are keen to give back to their home country in some way,” said a senior ministry official, who did not wish to identified.
The Centre hopes to expand Vidyanjali’s to every school in the country over the next few years after it pilot run ends in December. There is no eligibility criteria to enroll as a volunteer, but officials said that the final decision on who is selected for the job will be prerogative of the school.
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Anyone can apply to enroll as a volunteer by filling up a form on either mygov.in or the mygov mobile application. The concerned school principal will study applications and shortlist suitable candidates, who will then be called for an interview before they can be allowed to volunteer.
Speaking at the programme launch, HRD Minister Smriti Irani said that Vidyanjali is meant to convey to the students of government schools that “they are not alone but are a part of Team India”. The initiative has had a soft launch in which eminent personalities, including Union ministers Rajyavardhan Rathore and Kiren Rijiju, author Ruskin Bond, footballer Baichung Bhutia and actor Twinkle Khanna, have already visited government schools to interact with children.
The HRD Ministry officials told The Indian Express that the programme was conceived at a review meeting held by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in June last year.
Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Gujarat, Goa, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh are among the 21 states that have agreed to implement Vidyanjali’s pilot run.
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