Savouring Rajasthan's Shiksha Karmi in a remote village: the prospect of dismantling the student-teacher divide
The Shiksha Karmi Project in Rajasthan, one of the most educationally challenged states, is at the frontiers of alternative models of primary education in India. The key ideas underlying this model are: (i) the taking over of 'sick' schools in remote regions of the state and turning them around, (ii) creating new schools driven by demand from the ground, (iii) human resource investments to train local village teachers, (iv) strong linkages between the school and the community built upon a spirit of voluntarism, (v) an explicit movement toward gender equity and (vi) a bold attempt at the universalization of primary education through a combination of formal and non-formal institutions. This article provides a grounded feel for the Shiksha Karmi Project in a stellar school, Meena Dant Ka Pura. While the case highlights the shortage of locally based female teachers in the entire Shiksha Karmi Project, it also suggests the very real possibility of employing Shiksha Karmi Project alumni and higher grade students in teaching roles. Overall, primary education in India has much to learn from the Shiksha Karmi Project experience.