At the time of Independence, Shri Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel observed that the Kutch region was living in an era that was two centuries backwards then the rest of mainstream India. One man in Kutch was determined to bring the district out of that bygone era. He saw education as a major contributor in achieving this goal. The visionary was none other the then Member of Parliament Mr. T.M.Sheth.
It is said “Blessed are those who dream and still blessed are those who make their dreams come true” Mr. T.M. Sheth belonged to the later category and he established TRUST Saraswatam in 1969 to fulfill the dream of taking Kutch out of the clutches of educational poverty.
By starting 16 high schools in june 1969, Saraswatam brought education to the doorsteps of thousands of children living in the natural areas of Kutch. As the need for more school across at one point of time, more than half of the High schools in the district were run by Saraswatam.
With the passage of time a need was felt to provide vocational training and acquainting these children with the latest technology. Hence a Vocational Training Centre (VTC) at Naliya was established in 2005. The VTCs now need to be strengthened & expanded. In the last four years Kutch has witnessed the setting up and growth of many industrial units. There is a dearth of skilled manpower to fill the jobs available in these industries. This is another area that SARASWATAM is looking into so as to enable village children to get job oriented vocational training.
Today, all schools have well equipped computer Labs where Computer training is offered as a subject from Std. VIII. However at Ramaniya, Chasara and Kotdi villages, where schools were reconstructed under the prime minister Relief fund, laboratory is not constructed. We are endeavoring to collect funds to construct the laboratories. Till that happens the computers are made functional combining with other activities. In view of the global advancement seen in the IT Sector, Saraswatam is in the process of planning a large effort for setting up of Rural Computer Training Centers at the Village level.
Equally strong was the need to provide non-formal education to the school push outs (in common parlance, it is dropouts). Saraswatam trained over 2000 school dropouts and helped quite a few of them to return to the schools and get back to mainstream education.
To rededicate our selves on the Birth Anniversary of our founder shri T. M. sheth in 1908, we reached to the rural children. In 111 villages under the program we covered 3000 children in the age group of 9 to 14. Addressing to the joy of learning through puzzles, experiments, drawing, painting, songs, story telling paper crafts etc. The most interesting aspect was the elder children of high schools providing voluntary service to take care of the younger students for a month. This program has led us to another project of strengthening the learning of maths & science in primary schools in villages.
Adult literacy and women’s awareness programs are also some of the main activities conducted by Saraswatam since it is well known that by educating a woman you educate the whole family.
Saraswatam has also been actively working in the area of Child rights and activism against child labor. A sub centre of CHILDLINE at Mandvi is allotted to Saraswatam. Another important area where Saraswatam works is in the field of the adolescent care. It runs counseling programs for young girls and boys and gives the right orientation to the parents to enable them to be a friend philosopher and guide to their child.
Kutch region with the vast barren lands, unique coastline and comparatively fewer people has delicate ecological systems. To generate awareness about the environmental issues, eco-clubs have been set up in Saraswatam run High schools. This has helped the children to value nature and work towards its conservation in this era of global warming that has accelerated the severity of natural disasters. To help children from the weaker sections in the society, Saraswatam runs three hostels for the boys accommodating about 60 students free of cost & another 20 at subsidized later.
Conduct of Seminars, workshops, publication of books, promotion of local arts and crafts and literature etc. are many other activities in which Saraswatam is engaged. Long before Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam became the President ‘Saraswatam’ published Gujarati edition of ‘Wings of Fire’ which is now in its Thirteenth edition.
Saraswatam basically works on the principle of public partnership. Normally, it is the village which provides the land, the building and the furniture. The Government provides grants for the salary of the teachers. Villagers and past students support the school in many ways. However, besides this, there are many other types of equipment that the school needs to buy and many expenses that it has to incur.
Saraswatam generates these funds and ensures that village schools are not devoid of modern facilities and aids. As a result of these efforts, girls from poorest families and most backward sections of society from the remote town of Naliya, secured positions of merit in the district and the State.
Children of rural areas confidently compete in various sports and secure positions at district and state levels. Natural calamities like cyclone, droughts and earthquake have tested this region time and again. Saraswatam’s efforts and activities continue to flourish inspite of all these disasters. This bears testimony to the generosity of our well-wishers and the grit, dedication and determination of our Trustees and co-workers.
Recently, Saraswatam dedicated Bhuj (The District Headquarter Kutch Dist.) its first ever working women’s’ Hostel where working ladies & girls pursuing research & higher education found a home away from. The hostel was dedicated by Dr. Kamla, H.E. the Governor of Gujarat.