Founded in 1982 in the remote rural areas of south Gujarat, ARCH works to improve the lives of tribal communities through grassroots interventions in health, education, land rights and women’s empowerment. Provision of primary healthcare services is one of its major focus areas, which the organisation does through two health centres – one in Dharampur in Valsad district, and another in Mangrol in Junagadh district.

The two centres serve around 25,000 patients, providing everything from basic healthcare and health education to vaccinations, diagnostics, prenatal care and child care. The Dharampur centre also conducts health camps for residents of inaccessible villages and tribal boarding schools. Additionally, ARCH has trained 32 health workers in 27 remote villages to provide basic health services. In the last 15 years, the organisation has also published 25 booklets on health education in multiple Indian languages.

In the field of education, ARCH has initiated several programmes in Dharampur and Kaparada blocks of Valsad. This includes an activity centre for pre-school children to strengthen their foundation in language and maths. It has collaborated with other NGOs working in education to develop teacher-learning methods for maths and science, in order to help marginalised children to excel in these fields.

The project supported by MFE:

Education Interventions for Schools in Nagariya, Dharampur

During its years of experience in Dharampur, ARCH has found that school-going children in local tribal communities lack basic functional literacy in language, mathematics and elementary science. This impacts their overall educational growth and has led to high rates of school dropouts and failure in Class 10. This two-year project aims to invert this trend through four specific interventions at the primary and secondary school levels.

The first intervention involves setting up “class libraries of books and games” for Class 1 and 2 students in 25 schools in Dharampur’s Nagariya region. These include a mix of government schools and ashram shalas for tribal children. Through weekly visits, the ARCH team will train teachers to help students use the educational games, puzzles and books at least three times a week, and also give the children access to the library even in the teachers’ absence. ARCH believes this will improve the children’s logical, mathematical and comprehension abilities, which it will test at the end of the project period.

The second intervention involves introducing an activity-based programme, “Mare Vanchvu Chhe” (I want to read), to strengthen the quality of language and maths learning for students in Classes 3, 4 and 5. ARCH aims to roll out this programme in five schools, and the students’ skill levels will be measured through pre- and post-intervention tests.

The third and fourth interventions involve programmes for remedial lessons in maths and science respectively, for students of Classes 6 to 8 in five schools. These programmes are to include teacher training, designing teaching methods for current topics in maths and providing schools with basic science kits. Here too, pre- and post-programme tests will be conducted to measure improvements among children.