They are a group of retired professional, Most of them are retired teachers. They all are above 60 years of age. In last 20 years, they have traveled around 3,00,000 kilometers. This journey is not part of their after retirement fun but part of their mission to contribute to the nation even after retirement. This group is reaching the remote villages in Maharashtra and taking science everywhere.
“Mobile Science Laboratory” (MSL) is a moving laboratory in a bus.The bus carries the group of MSL teachers and all their material to remote villages of Maharashtra and other states. Mobile Science Laboratory is no wonder for modern India but the enthusiasm these teacher are showing is perhaps the gist of it.
The group comprises of people from various fields related to science and they are taking science to the villages which may take decades to come close to this knowledge.
This passionate team has an average age of 64 years but their energy can embarrass the teachers in 20’s.
Difficult weather and long journeys in the bus do not impact the passion of this team. They travel miles and take science in the easiest form to people who are far from it.
In the last 20 years of their service, they have shared knowledge with more than 3,00,000 students in various states of India. Conducted more that 2750 school visits and traveled around 3,00,000 kms. This equals travelling around the globe 7 times.
How Vidyavahini started.
Vidyavahini is a brainchild of NRI couple, Mr. and Mrs. Deshpande. The Deshpande couple is associated with Mathematics very closely. Mr. Deshpande holds a PhD in Mathematics and Mrs. Deshpande has been a Maths teacher in United States.
A documentary on mobile science lab gave them the idea of starting such service in their hometown Pune. It was way back in 1994, Deshpande couple visited India with a small donation to setup a mobile science lab. Deshpande couple believed that a moving science lab should be the best way science can be taken to remote villages of India. The concept was very new at that time.
To start with, the Deshpande couple invited some of their acquaintances to join hands with them and a team of five members was formed. Within the first few months, the news of MSL reached to various rural schools in India. The Vidyavahini team started receiving invitations from these schools.
“In the beginning, we hired a bus and went from village to village. Just a few months later, due to the increasing demand, we invested in a bus of our own and designed it to make it a lab on wheels. We have everything in the MSL from audio visual equipment and working tables to science experiments equipment and library sets,” says Mr. Sharad Godse, secretary of Vidnyanvahini.”
Vidyavahini, which is now a team of 25 members, work restlesly to reach villages near Pune and surrounding cities. They also cover schools in Madhya Pradesh to Assam in the east. With every passing year, the Vidyavahini team is increasing their reach to a larger area. they have included sex education for middle school students and a mobile library for schools and teacher training program.
The information about this activity has reached states like Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Chhattisgarh, where the Vidyavahini team has been invited by the state government to advise on similar projects. For the very innovative approach and vast experience they earned over years, they are also invited for teacher training programs.
While Vidyavahini team has traveled a lot and learned about the difficulties in various areas on the nation. They have also started working on other issue. In a similar effort, they started working on a watershed development project in Surodi Village of Ahmednagar District of Maharashtra. The team has build 15 bandhs to preserve water and use it for agricultural purposes.
This water conservation project has shown its effect and this village has shown tremendous improvements in crops. In this year alone, Onion crops of rupees 3 crore were produced in this village alone.
To enquire about science education programmes in schools or to make donations to the trust, please contact Mr. Sharad Godse at +91 96236 76949.