Arogya Prerana and education Summit 2018 was a one-of-a-kind conclave that brought together teachers, activists, humanitarians and healthcare experts under one roof.

Thanks to Deshpande Foundation, this 500+ gathering summed up the ambitious intent to offer the best of education and healthcare to people.

The conference, which was held on Wednesday, was inaugurated by Dr. Nimbannavar, Family Welfare Officer, Dharwad District.

Topics, such as, “Bettering uptake of maternal healthcare services,” “Swachh Bharat: A priority?”, and Alternate medicine: Exploring Ayush” brought to the fore several need-of-the-hour problems that require solutions.

To address these challenges through quality classroom strategies, Deshpande Foundation has entered into an MoU with the Department of Education. This partnership aims to improve the quality of education where Deshpande’s partner NGOs will work in select government schools to pilot various educational interventions.

Social woes

For long the government has been working towards addressing basic infrastructure issues like sanitation and toilets. Nivedita Bhat, an executive from a Dharwad-based NGO, Bhageerath, said that that this community of thought leaders doled out strategies that would help address relevant issues.

“It was an opportunity to find solutions to ongoing problems like sanitation, toilets, waste management, cleanliness, water and health. It was great platform consisting of stakeholders of all age groups, who presented workable, replicable solutions,” she added.

Snehal R, CEO, Zilla Panchayat, Dharwad, said that it is crucial for society to host such community building platforms. “To build a good society, it is important for the government, community and NGOs to work together and come up with insights and approaches to real-world problems,” she said.

Change in education appraoch

The holistic event saw active participation from the education community.

Manjula Yakkihallimath, headmistress of Government Middle Primary School, Kundgol, said teachers need to go beyond their call of duty and be a part of a bigger movement that enables social change.

“A teacher is the position of great power, as we influence hundreds of minds in their formative years. Deshpande Foundation's ecosystem event has given us an opportunity to learn from our peers and these new findings can be incorporated in our teaching methods as well,” she said.

Dr. Niranjan Kumar, director, Shri. Dharmasthala Medical College, Dharwad, highlighted the need to rethink the way education is imparted to students.

“Education should focus on teaching children things that computers can’t do…We should teach a child to dream, enjoy, get creative, get excited about the things around, etc. The sole purpose of education should be to teach how-to-think not what-to-think,” he said.

Savitha, an Anganwadi worker, stressed the need for children to be aware of social issues.

“Today’s children are tomorrow’s decision makers. Only through quality education can one make the right decision. Every teacher and Anganwadi worker has a key role to play in nurturing children at their tender age,” she said, adding that, “education is just not confined to the brain, but to the heart as well.”

Ashwini Hegde, project officer of Inchara Foundation, works on combating child sexual abuse. To her, this conference was an eye-opener and she says that the findings at this conference was a great learning experience. “Collaboration between NGOs can help improve the education sector and it will also help in development of children. These types of community gatherings and meetings bring to the table many great ideas that can be implemented and thereby gradually solving the challenges.”

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