Asha Meeting, Tanjore

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					Asha Conference, Tanjore
Jan 4-6, 2008
DECISIONS TAKEN:
   1. We agree to have Vallabh as a member of the Trustee Board. Decision reached by majority vote.
      Vallabh has agreed.
   2. Health Emergency Fund: We agree to have Vijay Bhai take the responsibility of coordinating and
      running the fund. It has been agreed that this will be run as a donation fund not an insurance
      program, that is, Asha is not liable for paying benefits if there is no money in the Fund.

DETAILED MINUTES
Introductions:
 Sheetal (Sangroor)                Anbarasan (SEED)                  Surinarayan (Chennai)
 Neelkamal (Lalpur)                Mansoor Ali (SEED)                Kritika (Chennai)
 Renu (Sangroor)                   Karthik B (SEED)                  Ram (Bangalore)
 Sandeep Rani (Sangroor)           Karthik (SEED)                    Padma (Chennai)
 Sukhnandan (Sangroor)             Mahendra (Varanasi)               Govind (Kaithi)
 Mohan Kumar (Chennai)             Mahalingam (Vishnupuram           Richa (Bangalore)
 Rangan (Chennai)                  school, location of conference)   Pranab (Assam)
 Rajaram (Chennai)                 Srinivasan (Chennai)              Sabita (Assam)
 Chandravel (Chennai)              Bhaskar (Chennai)                 Primrose (Manipur)
 Lakshmi (Chennai)                 Kasturi (Chennai)                 Bijju (Assam)
 Vijay Bhai (Ballia)               Michelle (NGO in Kolkata)         Manoj (Samastipur, Bihar)
 Manish (Lucknow)                  Uma (Fellow, Honor)




                                                 1
SESSION 1A: ASHA ADMINISTRATION (RAJARAM)
Asha is registered as a Trust not a Society
1) Administrative Guidelines - Trustees
    Asha has 6 trustees, with rotations:
        Lakshmi, Vijay Bhai, Sheetal, Ramsagar (Guddu), Deepak Gupta, Nandlal Master, Bijju
        Shanmuga has resigned from the trustee board and the resignation has been accepted
    Trustees expected to
          Attend six monthly meetings: if they skip more than two six-monthly meetings consecutively,
           they will be asked to resign
          Sign resolutions passed by general body
    Sheetal suggestion: If the trustee can’t attend, he/she should give a reason for not attending
2) Administrative Guidelines – Chapters
    After trustees, come chapters
       1. There is a process for chapter recognition:
            o Attend 3 meetings consecutively (can be more)
            o The group’s work is reviewed
            o General body will decide whether or not this group can be recognized as a chapter
       2. Only recognized positions in a chapter are treasurer signatories.
       3. Other roles can be decided by individual chapters as needed for their operations
       4. Only 6 chapters have their own bank accounts, the rest operate as imprest accounts. The
          seventh chapter will get a bank account soon
       5. Spokesperson:
            o National Spokesperson: Deepak
            o Deputy National Spokesperson: Srikanth
       6. Zonal Coordinators:
            o National: Ram
            o South: Ram
            o North: Rohini & Vivek
            o West: Karpagam
3) Decision taken to add Trustee:
    Suggestion by Ram
       1. Reinstate Vallabh into the Trustee Board (Vallabh is ready)
           o Reason: Vallabh is no longer on the Trustee Board and when he met with the Home
               Ministry he was told that he had no legal standing (no official position) in the
               organization.
           o Vote has been taken. Decision has been approved by majority vote.




                                                    2
SESSION 1B: FREQUENCY OF MEETINGS
1) Proposal to have one national meeting and keep the other meetings zonal (proposed by Siva by
   email)
       Problems with suggestion:
          o Not frequent enough to make decisions – this is the only mode of making decisions for
               us (Ram)
          o Zonal meetings without representation of Trustees – will not be able to make any
               decisions (Ram, Michelle)
          o If we pile up too many issues, then annual meeting will be too long (Padma)
          o It is nice to meet volunteers for those who can come (Rajaram)
   Everyone agrees that they want to keep the current six-monthly meetings. In fact, we should
   prioritize topics requiring decisions at these meetings because this is the only vehicle for making
   decisions for Asha India.



SESSION 2: CHAPTER UPDATES
1) Sangrur (Sheetal)
   There are currently three education centers. We need funding for a fourth (Katron center).
       Sherpur center: Classes 1 to 10
           o Has approximately 223 students and 9 teachers (including one for sewing)
           o Sewing center with 22 girls
       Ina Bajwa center: Classes 1 to 5
           o Has approximately 125 students and 5 teachers
       Nabha center: Urban center
           o Has approximately 40 students and 2 teachers
       Katron center: Classes 1 to 8
           o 128 students and 5 teachers
           o This is the one we want Asha funding for
       In addition to teaching, the teachers work on environmental issues
           o Actively promote pollution reduction:
                    Rally against fire-crackers
                    After harvest, people burn the hay. Rally against this
           o We have a plant nursery where both teachers and students participate. Saplings are
               distributed to people free of cost in June/July
       Annual Indo-Pak Peace march on Aug 14 around the river bank
       Also working against female foeticide
           o Lohri for girls, instead of just boys
           o Foot march for 200 kms against foeticide
           o Punjab & Haryana rank #1 and #2 respectively in female foeticide in the country. It is
                   especially pronounced in the Kurukshetra district


                                                    3
       Meeting for all teachers across all centers to share and review records
         o Teachers come from poor backgrounds
         o Need funds for teachers’ salaries and notebooks for children

Samastipur (Manoj)
           Original center
            o There were 55 kids two years ago; the current number of children is 62
            o Class strength:
                 KG – 10
                 Class 1 – 30
                 Class 2 - 15
                 Class 3 – 7
            nd
            2 center: Although the number of children enrolled is 55, only 20-25 attend regularly
            o One teacher from the same community
            o Same teacher also works at government school
           3rd center being run at Manoj’s own home
            o 25 kids
            o Class strength: (doesn’t account for the 25, classes 4 and 5 strength missing???)
                 Class 1 – 5
                 Class 2 – 3
                 Classes 6/7 – 10
          There are a total of 3 volunteers. They include Manoj, an English teacher (M.A.), and Sikandar
            o English teacher has brought significant improvement in English skills
            o In two centers, the teaching is more like tuition rather than full syllabus. Volunteers
                 answer the children’s questions or help the children with difficult topics
            o Children don’t have a sense of what a school is supposed to be
            o Children are now able to copy words into their notebooks
           Programs the centers are involved in:
            o 15th Aug – Independence Day celebration
            o 6th Aug – World Peace Day
            o 14th Nov – Local celebration with excess fire-crackers for children’s day. Rally together
                 with children against excess crackers. Children make ‘rangoli’ paintings
           There are floods every year
            o This year (2007), the floods have affected 12 districts
            o Our district has been affected the most. Even district headquarters were submerged 4 ft
            o Main issues are related to harvest and health (medical)
            o We bought some tarps, food for a few days
            o We assessed the impact ourselves by boat for 2-3 days
            o All funding sent by UNICEF, OXFAM, CRY, etc. gets diverted into corruption




                                                    4
          o   Diarrhoea: we focused relentlessly on getting everyone we came to know of treated.
              We got a bunch of people to form a network for reaching the affected. Took the
              infected to public health centers. Also took care of proper handling of related deaths.
              Usually doctors sell the medicines in the black market. We persuaded the doctors to
              treat patients properly.
          o   We need help with flood relief

3) Lucknow (Neelkamal) 3:07 p.m.
       5 centers
       Center #1:
        Classes KG, I & II strength 60 children; 2 teachers
       Center #2: 112 kids
        Classes KG, I, II strength 112 children; 3 teachers
       Center #3:
        Classes KG, I strength 60 kids; 2 teachers
       Center #4:
        Strength 50 kids; 2 teachers (Class information missing???)
       Center #5:
        Tuition center Classes 8 – 12; strength 35 children
        Support a Child: 20 children, who have now been admitted to other schools in higher classes
       We also collect clothes, especially warm clothes for children
       RTE work
       Teacher training for Lucknow area teachers
       Health program started a few months ago

4) Rajatalab (Mahendra) 3:15 p.m.
       NFE in evenings for child labor
       Value-based education
       Center #1: 146 children; 6 teachers
       Center #2: 176 children; 6 teachers
       5 centers for sewing and other skills for girls (who are too old to go to school)
       Banarsi sari child labor is predominant. Children either work at home, or at shops. We run an
        evening center for these kids. 20 kids attend the center. (apart from Center 1 and 2???)
      Health – once a month health checkup for eyes, health, weight, nutrition. This was started
        two months ago
      Spread information on RTI and RTF through street plays
      We have started SHGs for 35 villages???
      Teacher selection:
          o We were initially selecting volunteers with an inter-grad or BA-grad qualification
          o Teachers talk to children to encourage them to attend the centers???
    Curriculum also includes weekly (Sat) debates on social issues – dowry, foeticide, communal
      harmony, etc.
                                                  5
5) Kaithi (Govind) 3:24 p.m.
          Administration: Home Ministry, Bank, FCRA, Income Tax
          Overseas accounts of 6 chapters with accounts and 13 chapters without bank accounts
          Daily overseeing of imprest accounts
          Evaluation and monitoring of projects: UP, Bihar
          25 projects in UP: Sending budget requirements to funding chapters, monitoring project
           expenses, solving the internal problems of projects, or problems between projects and
           funding chapters
        Quality improvement in ASVs (Asha Samajic Vidyalaya).
             o Three teacher training programs for Ballia centers, a few from others in UP
             o 3 test papers for teachers: Maximum 200 marks. Lowest 11 marks (on scale???)
             o Training and planning based on requirement per test results
             o Regular follow-up with teachers and projects
       RTI, RTF, RTE, NREGS, SEZ work
             o Training and workshop on these issues
             o Action against SEZ
       Two day workshop regarding issues facing Musahar community, held in Kaithi
       Participated in several workshops on social issues
       Library program at 40 centers, total 85 sets of books
       Set up two SHGs in Varanasi
       Healthcare scheme based on children’s heath charts with help of BHU doctors
             o Helps teachers monitor health of children
             o Charts by age group and use of weighing machines to monitor health
             o Time gap between doctor checkups are over a year often, so this chart helps

6) Kolkata (Michelle)
        Had an Asha group 2 years ago. Made decision to create a separate Trust and went through
         all formalities. There is an existing trust that hasn’t done anything.
           o People in various positions disappeared.
           o People took their designations very seriously - printed business cards, etc.
           o They asked for membership fees: They wanted young people to pay dues and offered
                free membership to retired people. They had different rates for students, working
                people, etc.
        Current functioning of the separate trust, any updates there???

7) Lalpur (Neelkamal)
        7 centers:
           o Strength - 34 (13 boys, 21 girls), 2 teachers
           o Strength - 51 (23 boys, 28 girls), 2 teachers
           o Strength - 52 (28 boys, 24), 2 teachers
           o Strength - 65 (28 boys, 37 girls), 2 teachers
           o Strength - 110 (), 2 teachers
                                                   6
      o Strength - 35 kids
      o Strength - 30 kids. This center also offers some homeopathic medical care to children???
   Natpurva
      o We had to transfer this center to the newly formed government school because there
          was only one teacher in the area
      o In the new place, the government school was kept locked. We wrote to a government
          official to appoint a teacher. We suggested that if they were not planning to appoint a
          teacher, we would use the space to run a center. The response we got from the BEO:
          was ‘Why goondagardi’?’
   Another school: 1 teacher
   Another school: 2 teachers
   Aug 2007 – Rally against BPL (Below Poverty Line) system for grain distribution in district.
    System is now under investigation.
    Later, in December, BPL truck was being taken for sale instead of distribution. We called the
    magistrate about the issue. Local politicians got driver to hot wire truck and tried to escape.
    But by that time police came and arrested the ‘thekedar’. Police got the grain distributed.
   Aug 2007 – Police registered wrong cases against people, including Asha volunteers. We went
    to the Superintendent of Police and got this resolved.
   Oct 2007 – After an RTI application, as retribution???
    There was no development work in the village. We got 4 hand pumps, had one road laid, and
    carried out some other small development for this village.
   NREGS corruption: worked against this (they would pay workers for fewer days and show
    more number of days on records)
   Prostitution rampant since 300 years: Brokers operating in the area. Fake passports issued.
    We protested to all these activities
   Question by Manoj: Was there no teaching at the Ashram from Dec 14 to 21.
   Answer: “Because of democracy camp at the Ashram, there was no teaching. The teacher
               herself was at the camp; therefore, there was no teaching. Democracy camp was
               carried out to discuss RTI, RTE, RTF, etc. School is also closed when teacher training
               camps are held. “
   Question: “Manoj, why are you raising this point here, not there in Lalpur itself?”
   Manoj’s answer: “I asked the children there how the schooling is going. They said that they
                        go to nearby schools instead of Ashram. So when the work of education was
                        presented at this meeting, then I wanted to raise this point.”
   General opinion: To visit and assess the situation.
   Question by Bijju: “Why adopt government schools instead of forcing government to do its
                          job?”
   Answer by Ram: “While we do RTI, dharna’s etc., the children are growing older. So we have
                        to do both – pressure government and at the same time appoint additional
                        teachers etc to teach the children.”



                                              7
       Answer by Manish: “Government is privatizing hospitals and other public services. Even
                           stopped hiring teachers. Therefore, we’ll have to do something ourselves
                           and not simply depend on the government to do its job.”
       Suggestion: Someone should visit and assess the true situation.

8) Assam (Bijju)
       12 centers (Pranab)
         o Yoga for better health
         o There are 636 girls, 717 boys over 12 centers
         o There are 2 primary schools, 3 balwadis (pre-primary), and 7 primary schools
         o We have 33 teachers in total: 29 teachers are supported by Asha. 4 other teachers are
             supported by village funds
         o 1 center: 7 teachers, 339 children (Is this separate from the 12 centers above???)
         o 6 kids died of Malaria – we started health care in May for small ailments
       We also started SHG – 110 women attend; also provides vocational training
         o Production and selling of detergent powder, agarbatti, textiles (design & printing),
             pickles etc
         o There was a problem with going to banks. So we started a banking facility with Asha
             Darshan itself. This offers a deposit scheme at 5% interest rate.
         o Production of pots
         o Sewing training center
         o Mothers of all children in center are in SHG
       Mahila Shanti Sena (Peace)
       Laborers go to Bhutan in search of work. We give them training in silk (culture/ weaving???)
       Veterinary camp
       Question: What do the girls do after learning sewing?
       Answer: Some start their own shops, others – we are not clear what they will do
       Question: Asha funding goes into education, sewing center. We also get money from AID, and
                  ICA (Indians for Collective Action)

9) Manipur (Primrose)
         397 students enrolled but only 307 attend
         Every 3 months, parent-teacher meeting, Sunday afternoon
         School function including annual sports day
         Children’s Day
         Constructed new large room for use as exam hall in July
         Water: persuaded army camp to provide water through water pipe
         7 disabled children
         2008 plans
            o Adding class VII, so we need an additional teacher
            o Teacher training


                                                 8
          o  Healthcare camp is needed because Malaria is rampant. June – July children don’t even
             come to school
       Adult education is also provided??? (Bijju)

Mumbai (provided by Ram, based on info by Karpagam)
       Teaching Muslim girls in a Mumbai slum
       15 volunteers teach in a school in front of Powaii
       Will start doing accounts in Jan

Bangalore (Ram)
       Government school
         o 2 government schools
         o 340 children, 5 teachers
         o Tried many times to get the government to appoint more teachers. 120 parents wrote a
             petition and 30 met the BEO
         o Decided to appoint teachers in the meantime because situation was getting worse
         o Found 1 local person, and 1 well-trained teacher from an NGO came to Bangalore
                  Dramatic difference already in one month
         o We now have 9 teachers for 340 students
         o We have a full-time Principal, instead of one teacher doubling up as Principal
       Chaitanya – 13 after school centers in 13 villages in Chitradurga district
       One fellowship – N. Mutyalappa Fellowship at Anantpur district in Andhra
         o Mutyalappa provides??? innovative ideas on how to run a Panchayat
         o Have some expectations regarding schools in his Panchayat???
       Fundraising: 2.75 lakhs so far
         o Marathon for fundraising: Expect about a lakh from that
         o Goal is to not rely on FCRA funds
       Rajaram: “Private contribution to government schools at time of independence was 50%, now
                   at 3% (comment from AEO). Therefore I think more private funding should support
                   government schools.”
       Lakshmi: “Lots of schools in Madras used to be aided. They were associated with temples etc
                   or public funded. Concept of government-aided but not government schools is
                   diminishing now. In TN, government is withdrawing permission from aided schools
                   because they don’t want to support English medium schools and there is the issue
                   of teacher salary.”
       Uma (Chennai): “2% education cess is supposed to be spent on government. Schools but this
                         money is not being spent. I went and asked the Chennai Corporation
                         Commissioner, he said that they have not published an annual report.”
       Ram: Karnataka government appointed 7000 permanent teachers this year.




                                                  9
12) Chennai (Rajaram)
       Scholarship program for 120 children in TN, mostly in Chennai
       Improving education in government schools:
          o 15 government schools & 15 government balwadis
          o Sangamam project - 8 schools and 4 balwadis (Srinivas is the Project Coordinator)
                   Identified schools that lack sufficient teachers
                   Appointed Asha teachers who received training from Right Start program
                   Fixed small infrastructure problems such as leaking roofs or toilets
                   We have built two additional rooms
                   Provided wooden partitions in classrooms and play materials
                   Asha is now a recognized name in these villages
                   We have also been sponsoring an annual day
                   Evaluation tests have been conducted in these schools for the last three years
       Right Start teacher training provided
          o Lakshmi & her resource people conduct the program
          o Annual teacher training in May is provided. This year, we have started several satellite
              sessions in Nagapattinam, KanyaKumari and Thiruvallur
       Ektaal (Design curriculum in Tamil, some computer-aided)
       Get approached for Asha funds and also many site-visits in TN
          o Got $40K funding from Belgium for 3 projects
       Three year old project named Back to School for Tsunami affected schools
          o Giving materials to tsunami affected schools
       10 active volunteers, 5 others
       Question: “For how long do you support the children?”
         Answer: “From class I all the way to College. Evaluate every scholar on a yearly basis. Unless
                  economic situation improves dramatically, we keep supporting the children. You will
                  meet one of the children tomorrow.”
       Question: “How do you select?”
        Answer: “Until 10th standard, we don’t bring merit into consideration because education is a
                  fundamental right. After 10th, we take academic performance into consideration.
                  We give preference to girl children over boys. We also focus on 8-10 class, where
                  children are most likely to drop out.”
       Question: “How much money is given to children in scholarship?”
        Answer: “Amount based on survey of school fees in English medium government aided
                  schools:
                       o Class 1-5: maximum 5000 for the whole year
                       o Class 8: maximum 6000. Class 9-10: max 8000
                       o Class 11-12: maximum 10,000
                       o College: maximum 15,000 but help them get bank loans and pay their
                           installments
                  All payments based on receipts produced or pay fees directly.”

                                                 10
       Question: How did you pay for infrastructure improvement in school?
        Answer: All expenses are under Rs. 25,000. These improvements were done after consulting
               Vallabh. Any particular expense might range between 500-7000.

13) Orphanage (Michelle)
       Orphanage for 13 children, all girls
       Michelle has been involved with Asha for 5 years in the US and in India
       Background – Michelle’s family heritage is socialist. She is a doctor, writer and a mother. She
        came to India because of her adopted daughter who was Indian in origin. To give
        opportunities to orphans that her daughter got
       She lives with the children, she sleeps with the children
       Her mission is to create a model of non-institutional care for orphans. The institutionalized
        orphans don’t have living skills; they don’t have the skills necessary to integrate into the
        society
       The institutions the children previously came from were providing horrible conditions – no
        dresses, very dirty toilets, no medical care and the children even had to face physical abuse
       There are four handicapped children in the orphanage as well. The normal children go to
        government schools and come back and have further schooling back at Sishur Seva (SS)
       The children have no mother or father and no community. The handicapped children range
        between ages 2 and 7; others between 7 and 13. They had to put the children’s ages way
        below for school purposes
       The government school is reacting well to these children and Michelle is also on the PTA
       The government is not giving licenses to the new orphanage because of funding obligations
       The children, in February, didn’t know the Bengali alphabet or to count beyond five. Now they
        are able to read
       The hardest issue to deal with is the government. She is the only English speaking non-Indian,
        rest are all Indians. She believes that there is enough will and money here in India to support
        such kind of organizations
       Michelle started this organization with the confidence that she has money to raise these
        children. But the problem is convincing the Indian government to let her get her money into
        India. The government is not willing to renew the license unless there is money in the
        organization. But because of the FCRA, she is not allowed to bring foreign currency to the
        organization
       They have got 80G
       The police and local councillor have pledged support and she spends her money on buying
        groceries
       The harassment of taking away the children is over but the finance problem is over
       There was a discussion on how Asha can help SS. Can Asha route the money? Aren’t there
        many NGOs who would require similar ‘services’ of Asha
       Rajaram – It is a chapter level decision - if a chapter is willing to take up a specific project as
        its responsibility for collecting vouchers and doing the necessary accounting stuff
       Asha CNJ has put up a projects page ‘pending’! SS has not submitted any proposal to Asha CNJ
                                                   11
       An Asha India chapter needs to pick up the project under its stewardship. Asha Chennai is
        willing to take this up for discussion

14) Seed - Madurai Slum (Karti)
       Ram’s introduction to the group:
          o This is a group of people who grew up in a slum in Madurai and have been working for
              the betterment of the same slum
          o Previously he was working with Ted (?) but they split ways because he didn’t agree with
              their philosophy
          o Ram believes that we should consider them for an Asha chapter in Madurai
       Pucca slum where lot of casual laborers live
       Lots of NGOs are getting involved with slums in the same area. So he wanted to always work
        in the same area
       He worked with Dr. Taj and his organization for 7 years. Dr. Taj encouraged him to work on his
        own
       Seed started in 2006 in a 10x10 room. Has grown in size since then and others have joined
        him
       Helping 10 school children and 30 college students with studies through local funding
       Children write and edit journal named ‘New Era’
       Seed has started a bank for the children named ‘Honeycomb’
          o Encourages savings in the name of the child
          o Gives 20% (matching funds) next year to meet educational expenses of the child
       A library has been started last year, with about 1000 books
       An ‘ayah’ has been to take care of library and children
       Seed is trying to get children to run the various activities (such as the magazine) with some
        adult supervision
       Question: What, if anything, do you want from Asha?
       Response: Funding is coming from Asha Boston.
       Question: Do you want to be a chapter? If yes, then what will be the relationship between
                    Seed and Asha? etc.
       Response: We haven’t thought about this

15) TRY (Chandravel)
       Background of Chandravel – He has a degree in social work and started his working career in
        Citibank. He soon realized that the corporate world was not what he wanted
       He joined an organization called CAN and was involved in AIDS awareness work
       He started working with rehabilitation of sex workers in the western suburbs of Chennai
        where around 16000 of them were working
       He found that the children of the sex workers were loitering around or were involved in
        nefarious activities



                                                 12
               He founded TRY to focus on children of sex workers
                They take in children who are orphans or whose mothers are not capable of taking care of the
                child
               Some have to be taught values such as “it is bad to steal”
               Also some will say “I had two fathers come over last night”. Not realizing that this is not how
                things are with the rest of kids in their school
               Group therapy
               Thanks for Asha support!

        16) Swayam (Uma)
                 Medical awareness, care and education for children
                 Registered in 1999
                 Shared success stories of specific children
                 Children are in touch with children elsewhere in the world

        17) Asha Saathi (Ram)
               Fellowship program being used to support people involved in Administrative work because no
                other method (framework) of support exists
               Asha Saathi program was originally presented at the Sangrur conference
               Chapters were supposed to discuss the program and provide feedback
               Rajaram: What is new about this? We already have paid positions in Chennai
               Ram: This is news to me that Chennai is employing people
               Rajaram: Asha Honor has a paid accountant
               Rajaram: If the chapter is willing to raise admin funds separately, why does it matter?
               Richa: The question of the source of funds is different from the question of whether or not we
                       should have such positions. How many paid positions are there?
               Manish: But we had agreed to Asha Saathi program in Sangrur
               Ram: We had agreed to discuss it further. No resolution was made.
               Rajaram: We already have people in these roles, so why do we need a policy
               Ram: If we allow chapters to appoint people in an unregulated manner, we will not know
                      how many people are being appointed. Second, we need to have a framework to define
                      the work of the people.
               Rajaram: Limit total expense, not come up with a policy
               Richa: 1. Let’s separate the question of admin expense (e.g. paying for auditor, etc.) from
                         admin position
                       2. Even for Fellows we defined common rules, process, evaluation criteria, etc.
               Rajaram: We have a rule that the admin person cannot make decisions for Asha. We have
                           someone helping with accounts because we have too much accounting work
               Rajaram: We should limit admin expenses, not create a program
               Sheetal: Is it necessary that the person doing admin work be separate from person doing
                         project work?

                                                          13
       Ram: Not necessary
       Rajaram: This is adding an unnecessary layer of decision making. If we do, we should have a
                  similar rule for selecting project coordinators of Asha projects (not NGO projects)
       Rajaram: If chapter misuses positions, there are other ways of handling this
       Ram: What if an Asha chapter such as Bangalore wants to hire to lead the chapter, with site
              visits, to search for projects, etc. Let’s say we want a paid chapter coordinator
       Rajaram: A paid chapter coordinator should fall under fellowship, not Saathi. In fact, even
                   more strict than Saathi.
       Govind: What kind of rules would you want?
       Rajaram: Not sure of details, but would want whatever is in Fellowship plus requirement to
                   have been in Asha for at least one year
       Ram: This is not a tactical decisional, we are strategically moving towards something else.
       Ram: Because it is strategic, therefore we should be concerned about the kind of decision we
              are making.
       Ram: Since this is an important enough decision, chapters really should discuss it and then
              come back with a recommendation. Chapters should read this and come back to discuss
              next time.
       Rajaram: In addition, we should discuss admin expenses also.
       Govind: Wasn’t this discussed at Guntur?
       Ram: We discussed only one post for entire Asha India, not for each chapter.
       Suryanarayan: Maybe you can reach a decision faster for admin expenses.
       Conclusion: Since this is an important enough decision, chapters really should discuss it and
                      then come back with a recommendation. Ram should suggest some questions for
                      each chapter to answer.
                            o Whether we need a Saathi program or not?
                            o What are the roles of a Saathi?
                            o What should be the selection procedure?
                            o How should we find funding?
                            o What are the expectations of Asha India as an organization, e.g.
                                Provident Fund contribution, etc.?
                            o Do all administrative posts need to be Saathis?


DAY 2 SESSION 1
1) Aims of Education (Ram)
         Ram shares aims of education per Tagore, Gandhi and National Curriculum Framework
         Then he shares his views (emailed to Asha India Yahoo Group)
         Discussion on whether we even need to discuss aims of education
         Session ends with agreement that we do need to think about aims of education. Everyone
          also agreed that we should think about whether each one of our projects is aligned to what
          we want to achieve. And, more important, whether any of the classroom methods (e.g. rote
          learning) conflict with those aims of education

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   Discussion on aims of Education:
   Sheetalji: Any aim should be concurrent with the current scenario. Preference should be given to
              Human – Nature relationship as the suggested Aim mostly speaks about Human
              development. Education should build human – Human relationship more than the Human
              – country relationship
   Rajaraman : Education does not stop with the school. School education should not contradict the
                 Aim of education. Only after practicing the basics thoroughly, (for which sometimes
                 rote learning helps in a large way) creativity can be thought of in education
   Moorthy: Education should aim at giving quality, equal education to all
   Ram: Issues beyond the syllabus should be taken up. How is teaching practiced? That is, the process
         should be equally important as the syllabus/ curriculum itself. The teaching process should be
         analysed as to determine whether the aim of education is inbuilt
   Vijay Bhai: In UP they have shifted from the lecture/ reward/ punishment method to Activity Based
               Teaching. Separate resource persons teach the brick kiln workers’ children at their homes
               with regard to hygiene, systems in day to day living, concepts like air pressure through
               home activities like cooking, washing etc

2) Update from Grievance Cell (Richa)
   Richa read out the update
   Question: Who is on the grievance cell?
   Answer:     Richa, Rohini, Vallabh, Keerthi, Ravi, Karpagam
   Question: How can one file a complaint?
   Answer:     By email or phone, preferably to more than one member of the cell

DAY 2 SESSION 2
1) Accounting (Govind)
   Specific points
      1. Mumbai chapter is not maintaining its own accounts. They should start as soon as possible.
      2. Money was sent to Mumbai volunteer Kumkum Bansal. Various mails have been sent but no
          response.
      3. Need to know the status of Delhi chapter’s bank account.
      4. Draft template of audit report has been sent to all chapters.
            o We read through guidelines provided by Govind that he had emailed to all chapters
            o He explained each guideline and how it should be handled

DAY 2 SESSION 3 - CHAPTER PRESENTATIONS
1) Kanpur (by Uma of Suyam)
       Designed plan for the period 2008-2020 and aims at having Probodak ??? - 5 at international
        level, 25 at national level, 125 at regional level, 25 villages gram swaraj, 10000 socially
        responsible persons
       Planning to run a regular school in Samstan to be set up in a village group of 25

                                                  15
       Camps held in various places
       4 national conferences held with participation of 1000 delegates

2) Asha Honour (Jebadurai )
       Project Pride: In Oorurkuppam, school appointed 5 Asha teachers -- 230 students in Classes
                        1 to 8
       Noon meal scheme in vogue
       This year Asha teachers may be appointed as Government teachers
       From Dec 2007, Evening tuition center started for the children
       Project Build: Formal education provided to brick kiln workers’ wards in 6 centres in Tiruvallur
                      district for the last 5 years
       Now fund is being raised for extending the program for 2 more years.
       Project Trigger for blind students - setting up a library in Braille method at Loyola college and
        Queen Mary’s college at Chennai
       Have given tape recorders for 5 students for aiding in their studies.
       Project ESFF (Education for Suicidal Farmers’ Families) - scholarships given to children of late
        farmers who committed suicide at Hyderabad. This was done with the co ordination of
        Hyderabad chapter under a 2k project
       Project Mosur (near Arakkonam) - Applied for up-gradation / affiliation of the school into a
        Higher Secondary school and paid Government fees of Rs. 1. 50 lakhs , as a participation by
        the villagers as required by the State government. The school is in the 4t h place in the list
        with the government and is likely to get the affiliation in the coming academic year.
       Scholarships: 6 students (from school level to college level) are awarded scholarship under
        “Asha Lalitha Scholarship“ and “Asha Shakthi Scholarship” schemes (every year???)

SESSION 4 – USE OF TECHNOLOGY AND MATERIALS
Various chapters explained the technology / materials adopted by them in teaching children.
   Lakshmi (Chennai): Using display cards for teaching colours, shapes, alphabets, numbers, number
                      names, singular/ plurals, long vowels, short vowels, casual words etc. Bingo
                      games are played
                      These materials are given in sets to the Teachers in their training programmes
                      named “Right start”. The cards are designed to solve specific problems found by
                      teachers.
                      The cards are designed to use ‘Multiple Intelligence’ capabilities of children.
   Uma (fellow-honour): “Known to unknown“ method used for Stds IV to VIII. Learning is facilitated
                         through practical experience, puzzles, Vedic Maths, Skill based teaching,
                         work sheet method.
   Vijay Bhai (UP): Club teaching is adopted. Text books from Eklavya are used, though they look very
                   thin, they call for a lot of teaching techniques.
                   Play-way method for alphabets, numbers, through cards, picture, singing, dancing
                   etc.

                                                  16
                    Children encouraged to narrate incidents they watch and come across to share
                    these as news with class mates.
                    Students are asked to evaluate the teachers and the same is utilized to review and
                    improve the teaching techniques
    Bijju (Assam): Use of flash cards, joyful learning, practicing origami.
                   Everyday a child speaks on a new topic, give a quote by famous personalities, village
                   news is also collected by children and shared with the others.
                   Talents identified through competitions. (Educational???) CDs with sub titles are
                   used.
Sheetalji (Sangroor): Moral education emphasized
                      Long vowels and short vowels through appropriate words.
                      All teachers sit together and evolve suitable method according to the target group.
                      Formed groups for making vermin compost, tree planting, etc.
Suggestions:
Richa: To adopt practical tools in the relevant subject, example using cheque leaves to teach usage of
       money, banking etc.
Padma: Games like “Trade“ can be introduced to make children feel money, property, assets, and
        related items. Similar games can be designed for other subjects also.

SESSION 5 Asha TEACHER HONORARIUM (per month)
The honorarium paid in various chapters though not uniform, is based on common factors like the type
of center (rural, urban and metro), the qualification of the teachers, their experience , availability in
remote places etc. By and large the range of the honorarium paid is:
        Teaching assistant/ New appointments:              Rs. 600/Rs 700/ Rs800/-Rs1000/
        Experienced / Trained teachers                     Rs 1200/ Rs1500/ Rs1800/ Rs2500/
        Yearly increment:                                  Rs50/ Rs75/ Rs100/
Mostly the minimum qualification expected of teachers is a degree. However, in certain centers like
Manipur, Sangroor, teachers with Metric /HSC are also appointed as the selection is from existing social
workers.
It was suggested by the forum that the honorarium is to be at least the Minimum Wages prescribed in
the centers and that the base is to be gradually increased to meet the minimum wages level.
The suggestion is only a guideline and not a mandatory one, as the issues are different in different
chapters.

SESSION 6 – TEACHER TRAINING NEEDS
The discussion was on the training needs of Asha teachers as to the methods and process of teaching
the basic concepts, thereby making learning interesting to the primary school children.
 A few chapters detailed the present techniques adopted and gave suggestions for imparting training to
the teachers in all the chapters.




                                                    17
Lakshmi ( Chennai ): Training teachers through the Project “Right start “(RS, a special training
                     programme for the new as well as existing teachers , to make teaching effective
                     and reaching children in a different way from the traditional way of teaching with
                     the books and the blackboard. RS has been developed by Lakshmi based on her 3
                     decades of teaching experience. The specific difficulties faced by primary school
                     teachers in teaching the basic concepts in main subjects like Maths, English,
                     Language, Science etc have been identified and case specific tools by way of
                     display cards , bingo games have been designed . Separate sets of these cards
                     name as Learning Teaching Materials are prepared for each target group of the
                     teacher trainees. And the training is request driven by the group requiring the
                     training.
RS aims at
     Empowering teachers
     Using multiple intelligence resources of the children
     Designing tools for solving the problems faced by both the teachers and students in identifying
       the numbers, shapes, colours etc
     Registering, learning and recalling the learnt items
     Orientation to teachers, skill to use the learning teaching Materials in relation to various
       purposes
     Make children learn in their mother tongue
     Facilitate children to learn day to day arithmetic
     To kindle interest in teachers who do not know English
Right start programme has been found to be very effective now, for it has enhanced interest in the
teachers and the students. The project has also motivated children to learn voluntarily, and has helped
their retention capacity. LTMs are constantly reviewed and redesigned to suit the needs of each group
and the feed back is encouraging.
Right start is administered to government appointed teachers also so that good co ordination with the
Asha teachers can be achieved.
Right Start is conducted during the holidays in May, Sep, Dec.
RS is designed to learn in a relaxed way and hence cannot be imparted in a capsuled schedule.
Staying and casually interacting with the teachers during off class room hours acts as a vital input for
effectively conducting the programme.
Questions on RS:
Question by Michael: Do the traditional teachers resist this new method?
Answer: RS is given at the request of the teachers only and hence the question of resistance does not
        arise. However, in case of Government teachers or teachers sponsored by Management of the
        schools, if there is non-acceptance (in a mixed group) they are advised not to create
        disturbance and are sidelined at times.




                                                    18
Question by Chandravel—TRY: Are changes required for each group?
Answer: Yes. The pattern / LTM has to be modified according to the target group and problems
        expressed by the group. Sometimes, even exploratory workshops are conducted, but at the
        request of the group only. The RS team facilitators have also been trained to render suitable
        assistance in LTM handling and supplying during the training sessions.
Pranab (Assam): One week Teacher Training was arranged in July07. SSA resource persons were invited
                so that free books and training materials can be obtained.
                The resource persons cooperated well and motivated both the students and the
                teachers to learn through singing and dancing, expression of feelings and use of LTM
                Daily schedules were decided through mutual discussions.
                Drawing was encouraged and training given.
                In 2006, through a State resource person –Assam Sarula Association -- trained 0-6 class
                children. Pranab also underwent the training.
Suggestion by Vijay bhai A team can be formed to conduct Right Start programme and the same can
                          train teachers in each chapter. Follow up action should also be taken up.

SESSION 7: WOMEN FOETICIDE AND POLLUTION - Sheetalji (Sangroor)
      Humanity and pollution are two major issues today
      Two important relationships - human with Human and Human with Nature are strained and thus
       contribute to the said abuses
      Female foeticide is more prevalent in the northern part of the country
      Women have not had equal recognition with men from the puranas times till today.
       Nevertheless woman morally get a higher rank than men as they fully understand and nurture
       men
      Sustainability, productivity, Justice, Democracy and Transparency - are claimed to be achieved
       by the State. But in true sense and in terms of intrinsic value, all these major claims are farcical.
       The claim of achieving these relates only to the numbers and quantities whereas the quality
       achievement has no place
      The achievement (???) in actual terms has not been possible due to the ill relationship of men
       with both his fellowmen and also with Nature
      To correct the situation, in Asha through Education - Moral of Humanity should be integrated so
       that positive change in Human Relationships can be brought about
      In Asha projects, “Pollution control” and female foeticide“ should be integrated for creating
       enough awareness
      Theatre should be used as it is a strong and effective tool to create awareness with the younger
       generation

SESSION 8: ASHA HEALTHCARE (Manish - Lucknow)
      Asha Swasthya Seva is run in Lucknow and nearby villages
      Medical care extended to mentally retarded children, adults, beggars, persons in trauma



                                                    19
       Various difficulties experienced in dealing with the patients, hospital authorities, police (in case
        of beggars), etc
     In villages people lack awareness about the available medical facilities, though hygiene and
        cleanliness are maintained to a certain level
     In the city, the poor completely lack hygiene and hence the help given does not make a change
        in the health care
     The needy group consists of three types:
                o Those who can afford to get the diagnosis done but are not able to take up the
                     required treatment
                o Those who are ignorant about the spurious medicines sold in the market and hence
                     get affected
                o Certain medicines though available at reasonable prices (with labels of high prices)
                     do not contain the required dosage and do not benefit the patients even if
                     administered
     ASS conducts two camps - one in the city and the other in the villages
     Manish sought funds from other chapters for conducting the camps.
It was suggested to him that he send details of expenditures incurred for the camps and the budgets of
the camps for further responses from the chapters.


DAY 3 STEPS FOR CREATION OF THE ASHA EMERGENCY FUND (Vijay bhai - UP)
       As per the decision of the forum, the fund will be named as “ASHA MEDICAL EMERGENCY
        FUND”
       By Feb 2008, the list of volunteers who opt for becoming a member of the fund should be sent
        to him by every chapter along with the subscription fee of Rs200/ per year per
        volunteer/teacher/person ie persons working for Asha
       The names, addresses , telephone numbers etc of the listed volunteers are also to be sent by the
        chapters
       Expenses starting from Rs. 5000/ to Rs. 30,000/ will be reimbursed
       Expenses below Rs. 5000/are not to be considered for reimbursement
       Hospitalization in Government hospital only is eligible under the fund
       In cases of emergency, if hospitalized in private hospitals, expenses for tests and medicines will
        be reimbursed
       In emergency / casualty cases, on receipt of information from the respective chapter/s, Rs.
        5000/ will be paid immediately
       In case of request for reimbursements within 6 months from the date of receiving the first Rs.
        5000/, further release will be subject to availability of funds
       If any difficulty arises in payment of requests, the cases will be placed in the succeeding
        conference and will be decided
       A separate Bank Account operated by Asha Secretary will be opened.
       Donation receipts for subscription of Rs200/ per year will be sent



                                                     20
       The expenses and the supporting vouchers will be added under the Head “Health care“ of Asha
       Conditions for settlement/reimbursement of claims:
                o Priority will be given to treatment of life threatening diseases
                o Expenses necessary for surgery
                o Serious illness caused by accidents
                o Long term treatment of illness
                o For illness suffered by women volunteers during pregnancy
                o Above conditions are subject to review after two years for suitable modifications/
                    alterations
If chapters have surplus in Administration Fund, donations can be sent to the health fund.


ASHA CONFERENCE, JUNE 2008
The conference will be hosted by Balia and Varanasi chapters.It will be held at Balia during the last week
of June 2008.




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