Classes Resume with a New Grade at the Bhil Academy

April 19, 2010

Michael Matheke-Fischer

Classes resumed last week at the Bhil Academy in Jhabua, Madyha Pradesh with the addition 40 new kindergarten students and a new grade, the 9th Standard. This is the first term that the 9th Standard will be taught, and the oldest class to attend the Bhil Academy yet.

With the new kids, the student body at Bhils has now grown to 300 of some of the poorest, most disadvantaged kids in India. The students are happy to be back at school and in classes rather than working the dry, hot fields back at their homes. In fact, according to some of the students, their breaks are spent working construction or migrating to find labor work that will help support their families.

The academic year started with a health camp and screening of prospective students by Dr. Fabian Toegel and two volunteers to RMF, Dr. Tyler Chernin and Dr. Matt Oertli. The health camp screened the general health of about 180 children and referred serious cases to local hospitals for follow up care. Some of the children were suffering from malnutrition, gastroenteritis, respiratory infections, and heart murmurs.

Everyone at the academy is looking forward to working with the new Indian National Accreditation Standards and also working closely with the Ministry of Education under the Right to Information Act to increase access to education in rural areas. In addition to the educational activities, construction is also nearly complete on the new dispensary, which will provide medical care and medicine to the students as well as the surrounding communities, many of which lack any health care facilities at all.

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