Primary and Secondary Education
In 2002, when Rajasthan experienced a severe drought, SKSN had crowds of people waiting outside its door who wanted to enroll their severely disabled children into the program. Families were unable to provide for all its members. Moreover, disabled children are often seen as a burden and are typically the first to be abandoned during dire times.
Class time for primary school students
Graduating Class of 2010.
Knowing these children would be left abandoned to a life of neglect and misery, Polio and Children in Need Charity (PACINC) expanded its efforts at SKSN to take in more children.
This included expanding its boarding facilities and education programs. SKSN increased its pupils’ roll from around 220 to 450 with the construction of a purpose built hostel for disabled girls funded entirely by Polio and Children in Need Charity.
All children were given school bags making it easier for them to carry their school supplies when going to school. This is of critical importance since most students are severely disabled.
University Education Fund
Soon after Polio Children first became involved in the activities at SKSN in 2002, it became evident that zero opportunities existed for the children to pursue education beyond high school. We recognised that provisions would need to be put into place; otherwise, the pool of talent of these physically handicapped but mentally astute children would go to waste.
Committed to our mission of ensuring that every one of them would have the same opportunities as any able-bodied child, and that the ultimate goal would be full integration into the mainstream of the society as well as equal employment and earning opportunities. Polio and Children in Need Charity now seeks to pay full tuition for those students who qualify and desire a university education.
Gold medalist Jeetu receiving her Master's degree and her..............................
There was also an additional challenge in that most of the students who qualified for these scholarships were coming from rural areas and hence had to be accommodated in the city (mainly Jodhpur) where all the universities are located. Many students for the first time in their lives had to adjust to living in the “outside world,” i.e. without the comfort and protection of their home or the SKSN environment
This is a big step forward in their personal and academic development equipping these young adults with tools that will move them from dependence to interdependence, from ostracism to acceptance, and from being viewed as a burden to being a valuable member of society.
While the cost of education in Rajasthan is way lower than in the West, supporting scores of students adds up to a significant sum.
Polio and Children in Need Charity actively and continuously seeks to help those children who are marginalized to aim higher and beyond their physical limitations.
Consequently, we set the qualification mark 10% higher than the community standard of 50% and all applicants would have to undergo a means test.
In 2013, Polio and Children in Need Charity introduced the much-needed culture of reading by establishing an on-campus library. It was stacked with more than 1200 books for the benefit of 450 primary and secondary school students.
Computer Learning Centre
Established in 2009, the center is equipped with 50 computers and provides introductory courses in basic computer and keyboard usage skills for over 350 students ranging in ages from seven to 18 years old. Eventually, the center will provide training to the children in software development and computer repair.
Clean Water & Nutrition
Polio and Children in Need Charity (PACINC) has long been involved in making sure children in need are well nourished. Proper nutrition and good health are central to a child’s wellbeing. Three health projects were established at the Sucheta Kriplani Shiksha Niketan (SKSN) in Jodhpur, Rajasthan, the largest boarding school for physically handicapped children in India. Each project was aimed at nourishing the children for a healthy and stronger tomorrow.
SKSN is located on the edge of the Thar Desert and is no stranger to long periods of drought. In 2003, after having received little rain for five years, the state government officially declared the region a drought area.
At times, drinking water was in short supply and temperatures in summer often soared beyond 42 C (108 F).
Polio and Children in Need Charity (PACINC)funded the drilling, building, and overall engineering of a tube well and water generator that supplies clean water for SKSN year round. It is also is the primary source of irrigation for the school’s agriculture plots and also supplies fresh drinking water (piau) to the students and the pilgrims passing by.
Dairy Farm Project
Along with ensuring a reliable supply of milk and dairy produce, the Dairy Farm Project, piloted in 2003, trained students on animal husbandry and dairy farm management.
Ghee & Milk
In order to improve the basic health of the students, a two-month pilot project to include ghee (clarified butter) and milk in their diet was introduced. This proved to be a big success with decimation of children’s illnesses and improvement in their overall health. Based on these results, a Dairy Farm project was commissioned to include ghee and milk in their daily diet.
All children at SKSN have some kind of physical handicap – ranging from paralysis due to polio to traumatic amputation of a limb. In order to facilitate their mobility, Polio and Children in Need Charity has provided mobility aids, specifically wheelchairs and crutches, for children to move around, to engage in play, and to interact with others.
Providing such aids not only helped restore the dignity of these children as they no longer had to crawl on their hands and knees to get around. But they were also able to move with ease between classes and their dorms as well as socialize at the on-campus temple and on the playground.
Later when the students moved off-campus to pursue higher education, many of them were provided with specially equipped motor scooters allowing them to commute to college without having to rely on public transport, which is not handicap-friendly.
Orthotic and Prosthetics Workshop
In addition, in 2004 Polio and Children in Need Charity set up a prosthetics workshop where artificial limbs and crutches are produced, refitted, and repaired.
At the lab, interested students are given the opportunity to gain vocational training on how to make and repair prosthetics. Within two years, the lab was fully run by students under the supervision of a former student of SKSN.
The nearest medical facility from SKSN is about 28kms (17 miles) away. Every day, at least 20 to 30 children need medical attention for checkups, follow-ups, or illness. Polio and Children in Need Charity paid for a school nurse who attended to the children on site. In addition, the charity covered costs related to transportation to the clinic as well as medical fees for visiting the doctor, hospital visits, and medical prescriptions.
On-Site Medical Care
In 2004, Polio and Children in Need Charity funded the purchase of an ambulance. The nearest hospital is 28 kilometers away and public transportation is unavailable.
In order to become self-sufficient and contributing members of the local community, Polio and Children in Need Charity has established a vocational training centre where students learn skills and trades native to their localities.
A sewing and alterations centre was set up to provide training to those students who did not qualify for higher education.
The training center prepared participating students the opportunity to earn wages as independent tailors or to work for clothing manufacturers. Between 2005 – 2009, 40 girls received training from the center.
In order to accommodate physically handicapped female students who were traveling from far and remote distances with no available public transport facilities, Polio and Children in Need Charity (PACINC) funded and built an on-campus dedicated hostel. Constructed at a cost of £113, 659 ($171,625), the 140-bed hostel opened on July 1, 2004
The hostel provides a safe place for the girls to call home. They have thrived here, both mentally and physically.
In 2005, the girls won 15 gold medals when they participated in the UK Disability Sports competition!
One of the first observations during our initial visit to SKSN was that the students were unable to study after dark because power supply was erratic and always in short supply.
So Polio and Children in Need Charity(PACINC) undertook the installation of a diesel power generator that not only made night study possible but also allowed for smooth and consistent operation of water pumps and other facilities such as the computer learning center and the library.
En Suite Bathrooms for Severely Crippled Children
In 2005, en suite bathrooms were built for over 90 of the most handicapped children so that they no longer had to crawl across 50 yards of a rubble strewn courtyard for their daily wash.
In 2004, PACINC provided funds for the purchase of a tractor to assist the school’s vocational training project in small-scale farming.
Fixtures and Fittings
In 2009, the dining halls were furnished with handicap-accessible furniture so that the children no longer had to squat in the corridors to have their meals from plates placed on the floor.