Access to notebooks at government schools

by Badhri on Jun 26, 2008      Category: Education Tags: education notebooks

I was in conversation with an active member of India Sudar, an NGO working on the education for students from the lower-economic section of the society.

I came to know from him that while the government provides textbooks and uniforms for free, they don't have the capability provide notebooks. This unsurprisingly turns out to be a severe limitation to learning. When inquired, the government officials respond,

"Even the government has limited resources. To offset our limitations we have empowered the school's headmasters and senior teachers to partner local NGOs and philanthropists to receive the relevant aid".

Makes sense doesn't it? But I think, and the India Sudar member agrees, that this is not a sustainable model. So, what do we have? Even when ills like hunger and child-labor are removed from poor kids' way to the school, the good work is undone by the absence of guaranteed access to something as trivial as notebooks. I think this is a good idea for social entrepreneurship. Notebooks are available everywhere. Can be made from recycled paper too! Making notebooks is a good small-scale business. All it needs is an entrepreneurial idea that takes care of the economics and connects the demand and supply. Are you aware of any already existing models? (not donation of notebooks of course). Do you have any idea yourself?

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Comments

laliltk's picture

for a moment i thought "notebook" as a laptop!!! did not take much time to come to the ground reality..

parulgupta8ue's picture

I have seen a lot of NGOs and companies do notebook donation drives but never understood why notebook cost was such a big deterrent? IMO, books and uniforms are much more expensive, notebooks are cheaper. on the streets/railway bridges of bombay, I have seen people sell decent quality, big notebooks for Rs 5 or 10. something similar would be available in the wholesale paper market of any city (have personally seen at chandni chowk in delhi, chickpet in bangalore). in fact, uniforms aren't even critical! why can't funds from there be directed to notebooks first, if needed? would like to know if i am missing something?

that said, these days we get a lot of ad-fliers with the newspaper, most of which are one-sided. these could be collected through the local old-paper shop and bound into notebooks?

parulgupta8ue's picture

this idea definitely has potential in an urban setting (I think in villages there won't be as many ad-fliers or in general one-sided print material). Right now most old paper marts don't accept (pay for) anything besides newspapers, surely not loose sheets/fliers. If there is demand for it (for scrap notebooks), I hope the supply chain will be established!

functional binding is pretty simple - I have done it as a kid :) all you need is a big needle and thick thread (wool is a good substitute). For better than that, guess what - there are videos on youtube :)

The other thing I thought of was getting one-sided printed docs from companies - there'll be tons of it! But guess confidentiality issues there.

Badhri's picture

http://www.livemint.com/2008/07/07003453/Widow-entrepreneurs-of-Gujarat....

Talks about ICED and more importantly to me, indicates that making chalk can be easy, and combined with day-to-day work! Probably a good addition to making notebooks.

Badhri's picture

Hi Parul,
Points noted. Uniforms...beats me too! Linking the waste paper mart came across my mind too.

I have formulated a vague idea so far. Notebooks, as you pointed out, can be bound from papers. I was thinking if we can catch hold of someone who does the binding on a regular basis, and give a training session to school kids (or their parents) for a small fee, they can make their own notebooks.

Now that they know how to make notebooks, they (hopefully) can find their own ways of getting paper. A paper mart nearby, or unused paper from a relatively well off home.
This may also provide for a source of income to somebody.

Again, I am not a seasoned soc. entrepreneur or an innovator..but I do have the resources to implement an idea through my company @ a nearby school we have identified. So, if any of you guys can refine, criticize my ideas, it goes directly into implementation. So, out with it please! :)

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