ACTIVITY REPORT 2019-2020 by Shrī Harin Haṭṭaṅgaḍy

This was the third year of vocational training at Srīvalī High School. Of the students who had undertaken training in 2018-19, 14 students were interested in continuing vocational training in 2019-20 as well. Keeping this in mind and after discussions with the school Head Mistress and other teachers, it was decided that 80 new students who were going to join the 8th standard would be inducted into vocational training for 2019-20. The classes for the 14, standard 9 students started in early June, every Monday and Thursday evenings.

Initially when the announcement was made, a total of 112 students from the 8th standard gave their names. 55 boys and 57 girls. But, as we have a capacity for 80 only, this list had to be filtered down, and we finally ended up with 44 boys and 36 girls.  These 80 students were then divided into 5 batches of 16 each and in the last week of June, vocational classes started for the new batch. The first two classes went by in introducing the children to the tools, safety briefings and breaking them up into teams of 4.

As usual the first project was dedicated to making the bed switch connection. All students got to do this independently



The second project was to make the two-way switch connections. Here the students had to work in groups of 4. A special jig was prepared to teach the children about the circuit for the two-way switch.



The third project is the lengthiest of them all and takes a good amount of patience, teamwork, hand-eye coordination skills and involves complex work. It is generally at this point that students find out that the vocational skills class is not a frivolous activity but requires hard work. The initial thrill of handling tools starts to wear off and students tend to leave. But, this batch of 80 was something else. They worked hard and, in their teams, and managed to complete their extension box. Below are some photos of students preparing the extension box




As usual some of the groups finished their project faster than others, so were given small repair projects involving repairs or even new projects.



In the meantime, Keshav Sorab mām had requested the fabrication of  a type of arrangement where the Bhaṭ mām-s daily work schedule could be posted. So, after discussing the basic design, the children got busy. Soon it was time to fix the compartments in the Mat̲h̲, where they would finally be used. After discussions with the Head Mistress, it was decided that we would take an all-girls team to fix the compartments on the wall. All girls with 100% attendance were chosen for the task. After a few practice runs in the classrooms these girls came to our Mat̲h̲, and fixed the compartments. 






Next, we thought we would make something that would be useful for the school. During the monsoon months students and teachers bring umbrellas and raincoats regularly, so it was decided to make peg racks for hanging these up. A variety of designs were made by the students as can be seen in the photos alongside.



As we were going to have a lot of yātrī -s from Rājasthān, it was decided that rather than fixing these in the school, we would fix them in the guest rooms where it would be of immediate help. So, again the students fixed 16 clothes peg stands , 16 shelves and 16 extension boxes in the AVM guest house.

The 8th standard students were kept busy throughout the year till end of February, when classes were stopped. The did many small projects - some in their groups of 4, like the step stools. One group also made a shoe stand for their class.



The other major skill they learnt was soldering. They did a 'Welcome' board by soldering LED bulbs in series. 


This year’s 8th graders have been full of surprises... full of energy and showing tremendous perseverance. Over the last two years, the trend has been that the initial burst of enthusiasm wanes as projects become tougher and require more discipline and dedication. But this year, with the original 80 that started the training, by the end of the year, 68 students had continued with 24 students showing over 85 percent attendance and 11 students with 100 percent attendance!

It’s a pity that the 2020-2021 session is delayed due to the COVID 19 pandemic. The students have lost a good opportunity to fine-tune their skills by doing more shopfloor work and adding to their skills like cupboard making, drawer assembly, house wiring, plumbing, etc. But all is not lost! Whenever school reopens and the social distancing rules are relaxed, we might still have a couple of meaningful months of work. As always, we hope for the best.

Meanwhile the 9th standard students, the advance batch had started class by the first week of June 2019. There were 14 of them to start off with, but soon many left leaving us with just 5 students. Here’s a showcase of some of the work they did: 






It was coming to the end of the year and the vocational classes were going to stop by the end of February. There was a group of 5 standard 9 students, for whom the vocational training would end at Srīvalī High school. So as a takeaway for themselves, they were asked to fabricate something for themselves to take home. Two of them decided to make coffee tables with glass tops and the other 3 decided to make mirrors.



2019-20 was a fulfilling year as a few new items had been tried out and because of the high energy and enthusiasm shown by the students it was personally very enjoyable for me. 

We were honored and blessed by the divine presence of Shrī Saṁvit Somgirī Swāmījī Mahārāj and Their Retinue who visited the school and the vocational class room and the children displayed their skills by making clothes hanger and presented it to Swāmījī and Their retinue
We’d like to thank Shrī OM Gaṇesh for his generous donation of LED bulbs and holders and the time he gave, in helping with the WELCOME board. I would also like to thank Gaṇesh Baṅkeshwar mām and Dilip Paḍukoṇe mām for their continued support in conducting these classes. I am glad that my wife Jyoti joins me with these classes.

Also grateful thanks to the entire staff and the Head Mistess of Srīvalī High School, the staff of Srī Chitrāpur Mat̲h̲ and specially to PARAMA PŪJYA SWĀMĪJĪ for Their continued BLESSINGS in making this vocational training successful.