On September 18, “Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation of USA – EVF” hosted a day-long virtual ‘National Conference’ with 220 registrants from U.S., Canada and India. Although touted to be a national gathering, Ekal-India had a sizable presence in it, along with some representation from Ekal-Canada. The primary objective of this conference was, not only to review the scalability of ‘Ekal Abhiyan’ projects (an umbrella organization of Ekal’s various logistic operations), but also, to align the aspirations of Ekal-America and Ekal-India for future goals. With the Covid-19 pandemic affecting rural life, this conference had the arduous task of remapping success milestones for ‘Mission 2025’, outlined earlier in Yr.2020.
Ekal-India team presented revitalized facets of ‘Ekal Abhiyan’, namely ‘Digital Literacy’, ‘Arogya Foundation’, ‘Gramothan Foundation’, ‘E-Shiksha’, and ‘Global Communication’, with a focus on the covid-19 pandemic, skill development and economic empowerment. The host team along with Ekal-Canada was composed of members of the board of directors, working committees, regional & chapter presidents and the youth wing. This Pan-American team introduced the topics like innovativeness and accountability in capital projects, technology roadmap, fund-raising targets, cutting-edge technology for project management, and youth involvement.
In essence, all the panelists pushed for a well-coordinated aggressive march towards the milestones of progress, pegged as ‘Mission 2025’. Lot of awe-inspiring information about Ekal achievements came out in various presentations. Ekal-India, keeping an eye on the ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ initiative (self-sustaining, self-reliant ‘Bharat’) floated by the Hon. PM Modi plans to showcase 35,000 villages as the ‘Pragat Sanch’ (progressive clusters) with holistic development that would incorporate digital literacy, health & hygiene, skill training, sustainable farming and value-based education.
A small portion of these clusters would be turned into quintessential ‘Adarsh Gram’ (Model Villages), as a role-model template for the future. Ekal is currently leaning towards launching digital technology, at every level of its activities and operations. Ekal-USA, therefore highlighted the E-Shiksha methodology and the preliminary timetable to expand it across Ekal school map. As a dynamic organization, Ekal is perpetually broadening its base, worldwide. With a newly established presence in France and Thailand, the total number of countries with Ekal affiliate branches is now 12.
During the school closures in the U.S., the Ekal-youths, not only helped to publicize virtual concerts with their social media expertise but also, raised funds through athletic activities, talent shows and skills developing tutorials. Being socially conscientious, the youth earnestly took part in their community food drives, tree-planting projects and outreach programs for the seniors in need.
On the covid-19 front, Ekal’s success in rural-tribal areas is staggering. Because of the aggressive safety campaign, herbal medications, nutritional food provisions and isolationist tactics that Ekal field volunteers vigorously promoted there, the pandemic’s effect on rural folks was very minimal. Field volunteers, not only countered the misinformation about the vaccine by asserting its benefit but also, made it worry-free with videos of their own vaccination. This led the vaccination rate to 71% in some corners.
While overcoming various hurdles unique to a village set up, Ekal never ever lost the sight of keeping all its supporters well informed about the steps it was taking in successfully arresting the spread of the deadly virus. This flow of incessant communication not only strengthened donor’s trust in ‘EVF’, but also was reflected in their generous support for this institution. In Yr. 2020 Ekal-USA, with virtual events had raised almost $10 million, with $6.5 million coming in from the year-end magnificent gala. To that end, Ekal-USA once again confirmed that the eagerly awaited glittering virtual Gala would be hosted on Saturday, November 13, 2021.
At the conference’s conclusion, as the host and President of Ekal-USA, Sureshji Iyer summarized various proposals of the panelists for ‘Mission 2025’. While unveiling the roadmap for the benefit of participants, he explained in a nutshell that, although the number of schools would remain the same at 102,000 mark, the number of villages for E-Shiksha (education through tablets) would go up from current 1,170 schools to all 102,000 schools; Arogya services (Healthcare) from 1,200 villages to 35,000; Ekal-on-wheel vans (mobile digital training) from 29 to 60; Tailoring ctrs from 33 to 150; Integrated Village Development Ctrs (IVD) from 12 to 31; and Gramothan Research Ctr (GRC) from 15 to 31. During the five-year goal period, 50% of schools, 15 GRCs, and 25 IVDs are expected to become self-sustaining, subject to third-party assessment.