The seeds of PYDS were sown in 1998. These matured in 2003, when we formally registered as a Society.
The idea of an informal free home tutoring facility transformed to sponsoring a handful of children into reputed Schools. This after School help operated from rented cattle sheds, tents and a semi constructed house until 2006.
We now run a full-fledged CBSE affiliated School (PYDS Learning Academy*) for over 435 rural children. Our infrastructure now stands at par with good Schools that only the rich can afford.
Mr. G K Swamy aged 60, a retired economist from Bombay settled into village Purkal, Dehradun, Uttarakhand. This was then a small village located in the foothills of Himalayas with a population of less than a 1000. Being an acute diabetic and having spent all his life travelling, he intended to spend the rest of his life in the lush green atmosphere, serving the Community that he decided to live in. He is now a keen practitioner of Yoga. His wife Chinni decided to partner him in this Life of Service.
1998 – 2002
The creation of PYDS dates back to 1998, when Mr. Swamy noticed a gaping lacunae that existed in this rural community in terms of youth employability. The youth in this area lacked opportunities, motivation and determination to move forward. From here germinated the sapling of PYDS. Mr. Swamy took the initiative to help and began an after – school tutoring program to supplement the education of four local children. The tutoring School initially operated out of his house.
Shortly after the tutoring program began, a few sponsors funded formal education of these children in a Local English Medium Secondary School. The number of children seeking this support swelled and the strength was 24 as on 30th June 2002. The Jaswant Modern School and Scholars home provided fee concession to these children.
The students joined us after completing Class 5 from local Schools, principally the John Martyn Memorial School. We had to give them rigorous remedial help to make them competent to join reputed Schools in the city.
2003 – 2004
With the active support of pioneers such as the erstwhile Chairperson Mrs. Praveen Langham, Purkal Youth Development Society was registered in 2003 as a Society and functioned out of Mr. Swamy’s house.
The Society sponsored the education of the underprivileged students and secured their admission into two very reputed Schools in the city. The students came to The Society for after School mentorship Sessions at around 2.30 PM and this generated the need to provide a comprehensive mid-day meal to the students. We called it The SPRY Program (Sponsorship Program for Rural Youth).
As the strength of students increased, we used cattle sheds, and added to the space gradually with a hired garage, and yet again later by renting an un-plastered partially constructed building for conducting the remedial post School classes. A van and later a bus helped the students commute to school. With the flimsy finances that we were able to access, the necessary resources like Black Boards, Books for an elementary Library, second hand computers etc were assembled. Uncertainty of tenancy and the lack of space compelled our aspiration for our own dedicated infrastructure. This happened miraculously with the purchase of our present site with the assistance of UB40 and a generous grant from Elan, U.K. that permitted the erection of our first School building.
The Stree Shakti, then a Division of the Society, which was the idea of Mrs. Chinni Swamy, worked towards the welfare of women by providing rural women opportunities to earn through the skill of quilting. This activity was carried out in Home of the Swamis initially and later supplemental space was acquired by hiring a few rooms in the village. It began with one woman who needed an income desperately but soon became a movement with seve3ral women using it to build their status in Life.
2006 – 2007
The dawn of 2006 laid the Foundation of new beginnings of PYDS when the UK based band, UB 40 decided to donate to us and make possible the purchase of a land for PYDS. Elan, UK visited us in March 2006 and made a handsome donation that made possible the first building that housed the PYDS School.
It was in this year that the teachers became full time employees
We initially started with 8 classrooms, a small Science Laboratory and a computer lab. This infrastructure was adequate at that time for running classes from 6 to 12. Very soon thereafter, we added a volleyball court, basketball court and a badminton court.
The batch that Swamy Sir started tutoring during the initial years passed out from School and the Society guided them to pursue a good profession.
In 2007 the administrative office of the Society was shifted from Swamy sir’s house to the Society’s campus. We also created a Yoga Hall and a library.
2008 – 2010
A couple of reasons coupled with our philosophy of providing the best to our students led to the emergence of the idea of a full time School – PYDS Learning Academy.
We admitted the first batch of students under the BTTP (Bus Them to Purkal) scheme. These students were from nearby villages and needed a lot of remedial help to cope up with the standards of any School. It was not easy for us to convince parents to send their girl child to School. Most parents wished to marry their girls at a certain early age and therefore wanted them to learn house hold work rather than anything else.
This was the beginning of the School and students used to come in the morning at 7.30 AM and leave at 5.30 PM in the evening. We realized that students needed adequate nourishment to perform well. From July 2008 onwards we started providing four feeds a day – breakfast, fruit, lunch and an evening snack.
We gradually added 3 classrooms, a Dining Hall, a Staff room to our campus as support trickled in. The number of students at this stage was 206.
During this period the School was transforming itself from an ‘after school help’ to a full – fledged School. A UK Govt. approved Primary School and later a Middle School started. An Early Childhood Learning Center – Shishu Shakti was also started. This was a crèche and much more for the children of women working in Purkal Stree Shakti Samiti.
Purkal Stree Shakti (PSSS) which was a part of PYDS until the 10th of October 2010 spun off as a sister Society. We provided them with initial infrastructure and resources to carry their mission forward. PSSS has now emerged as a business model and works as an umbrella organization for around 10 Self Help Groups.
2011 – 2012
These were two more happy years for PYDS as we gained CBSE affiliation for running a School up to Class 10.
The Society also found a well-qualified Principal Mr. Harwant Singh, who started his journey as a teacher at PYDS. He moved away from PYDS for 5 years to serve as a teacher trainer at a reputed Foundation related to the education sector. He was the new blood that infused significant changes in the Management of the School.
We were selected as the regional winners from North for the India Ngo Award 2011.
We also completed the construction of a new block of the School comprising of 6 Classrooms, a Senior Library and a Laboratory. The facilities for games also improved.
The batches of students who were studying through our SPRY program also kept on passing out of the School with results that steadily improved. We helped them get into Institutes of Higher Learning.
2013 – 2014
It was a historic moment for PYDS Learning Academy, when the erstwhile Chairman CBSE, Mr. Vineet Joshi visited our school on the 10th March 2013. The Senior Secondary School Block was inaugurated by the Chairman. With this we added 6 more classrooms, a dedicated laboratory each for Physics, Chemistry and Biology and the School office.
We felt humbled and motivated by his words. This is what he thought of us:
Wonderful lifetime experience. It’s just out of box. The best school I have ever seen.
All the best. Please keep it up.
In a land mark achievement the School was granted CBSE affiliation up to Class 12 effective from the 1st of April 2013.
We also undertook responsibility for 9 students whose families were devastated in the Uttarakhand Flash Floods in 2013. 3 among the 9 are near orphans.
As the days passed by, we equipped our Physics Laboratory. We also commenced one of its own kind experiment of setting up an e-learning laboratory to encourage self-learning through the net.
The first batch of PYDS Learning Academy students passed out in 2014. We had 295 children under our care as on 31st March 2014.
We got affiliated to CBSE as a full-fledged School. I am sending you a photograph that could be put alongside 2013.
The year gone by has witnessed the completion of a hostel building for 60 underprivileged senior girls studying with us. This was an essential requirement as poverty, discrimination, gender bias and lack of infrastructure such as electricity often diverts attention of students from studies. This was the commencement of our ‘only the Best’ project.
We also have a 28 bedded boy’s hostel and the total number of students under our residential care will now be about 90 students.
We assessed more than 1000 students and recruited parallel second sections into Classes 6, 9 and 11. All these children hail from very humble background and were admitted after a thorough assessment. We currently have 435 students under our care.