Vigyan Ashram

Judy Backhouse

Judy Backhouse presented an account of Vigyan Ashram at the village of Pabal, near Pune, in Maharashtra State about 150Km from Mumbai, a partner of DIL/IITB which the Monash team visited in 2005. The presentation was compiled in conjunction with Yogesh Kulkarni, Director of the Ashram, and Dr Jacques Steyn. She focused particularly on the educational model of ‘learning by doing’, and providing services to the local community in the process - and its potential for introduction in Southern Africa at low cost. The ashram is a ‘school for dropouts’ - some 70% of Indian children do not complete school. Vigyan Ashram has developed a one year residential Diploma in Rural Technology that teaches a range of relevant technologies, mostly using local entrepreneurs as instructors. The program now also runs in a number of similar centres. After graduation students are placed with a small business to complete a 12 to 18 month apprenticeship and then assisted to start their own businesses.