The Good Harvest School: Reviving lives in Rural India
The eminent industrialist and philanthropist, Shiv Nadar said, "Education is and will be the most powerful tool for individual and social change, and we must do all that it takes to facilitate it." A mere belief in this radical notion ignited entrepreneurial passion in Ashita and Anish Nath, the founders of India's first agricultural primary school, The Good Harvest School. They envisioned a society where girls from rural India would stand shoulder to shoulder with millennials to achieve goals and contribute to national as well as global development.
It all started in 2013 when Ashita and Anish decided to escape tiresome and mundane metropolitan life of Delhi and settle in their native town in Unnao, Uttar Pradesh. They left their high profile corporate jobs and came back to their homeland where Anish set up an animal farm and Ashita started teaching in a school. The desire to spearhead such a noble social change got the strike when Ashita, being a teacher, perceived the discrimination prevailing over the education system in villages. She noticed that the number of boy students attending schools was a lot more than the girls. When she interacted with people, she learnt that people were stricken with a plagued mentality that pressed for keeping girl child from education and that she must perfect herself in household chores. Her concern gradually developed into an entrepreneurial itch. She couldn't ignore it anymore and came up with a resolution to provide quality education to girls so that they can compete with the children living in urban areas.
The couple contemplated on establishing the school in Pashchim Gaon, the same place where Anish's animal farm was located. They talked to the villagers and the Pradhan about their idea. Since it was an all girls' school, the idea intrigued the people of the village. The foundation of the school was an outcome of a rigorous and careful planning of one year. The foremost mission was to instill confidence in these girls by educating them; and help them breaking through the barriers by letting them fly high. "We realized that most of the young girls in villages lack confidence. The reason behind having an all-girls team is to show them that good education can help them too in thinking beyond their restrictions. Our focus here is to help our girls start thinking. We provide a healthy and safe environment where they are free to roam around, share and discover", says Ashita.
The Good Harvest School began its journey in 2016 in August with few students and four teachers including Ashita and Anish. Since many of them can't even read, the founders have adhered to an innovative approach while developing the curriculum, which takes into account every child's learning level; her interest and pace to learn. The classes are separated according to students' level of learning but not their age. Monthly assessments figure out the progress of the child individually. The team takes a lot of initiatives to support a child if she is lagging behind and nurture her thinking and creativity. It devotes the best of its efforts towards ensuring that children feel safe and happy at the school. The school has become a place where the children could learn, play and discover their childhood and their potential as an individual.
The remarkable thing about the curriculum is that agriculture as a subject is given a lot of emphasis. The Good Harvest School is apparently the country's first school where students will get to learn about the new-age agriculture. The school has a huge area close to 30,000 feet dedicated to provide practical learning methods and expose students to technical and scientific methods of farming. Besides, the founders have been collaborating with Kisan Vigyan Kendra to develop a specialized curriculum based on agriculture. The founders, having spent almost three years with the farmers could gain an insight into why the farmers fail to obtain a good produce. They have acquired a better understanding of how the production can be improved. So, they want to equip these new generation farmers with the best knowledge that would empower them with the know-how of sustainable agri-methods.