Dr. and Mrs. Jagbir Singh founded the School in 1998 to fulfill a dream: to provide an excellent, secular education to girls in a safe village environment. The dream began to take shape with the registration of the Arya Gram Vikas Samiti with the government of Uttar Pradesh for running the school and other charity projects in Rathora. The Samiti is dedicated to providing an excellent educational facility for girls and to implementing basic health care facilities for the village community, particularly females.
The School is named after Shrimati Hoshiari Devi, who was born in a family of very modest means in Rathora. Though she had no formal education, having never attended school, she valued it greatly. In those days, the concept of village girls attending school simply did not exist. They were born to help their parents in performing household chores until their arranged marriages, where the cycle would perpetuate itself in their in-laws’ homes.
Of Shrimati Hoshiari Devi’s four children, the youngest, Jagbir Singh, received his education in Rathora up to the fourth grade. He then walked back-and-forth 2 miles to Chaprouli for the next three grades. Not a single girl from Rathora attended school in those days. In the nearly seven decades that have passed, awareness of the need for girls’ education in villages has increased, but facilities did not exist for them to receive even a primary education.
Prior to the founding of the Girls School, the village Rathora had nominal facilities for co-education up to the fifth grade. Still, after the fifth grade, children were made to walk back-and-forth to Chaprouli to continue their education, just as they did in 1950. Parents fear for the well being of their daughters in commuting to Chaprouli using unreliable transportation or walking on foot. These safety concerns, coupled with the tight financial restraints of village families, limited opportunities for girls to receive an education.
In 1999, the village Panchayat (local government) donated a piece of land to the Samiti for construction of the school building. Since then, and as of now, the campus consists of 14 classrooms, science labs for chemistry, physics and home sciences, a spacious library, a computer lab, a high ceiling multi-purpose hallway, offices for teaching and administrative staff, and a reception room. The Campus provides basic sanitation facilities, a steady supply of drinking water, and well-kept open spaces and grounds for games. The boundary walls encompassing the campus provide a safe environment, and ongoing maintenance keeps the campus clean and beautiful.
To maintain a continuous supply of power the School has installed a powerful generator. Four school buses run daily to accommodate transportation of students from nearby villages.
The School has over 600 students enrolled in the current academic year and is FCRA registered and recognized by the Uttar Pradesh (UP) Education Board through the twelfth grade. This academic year, 60 out of 61 students passed UP Board exams with first division honors.
Extracurricular activities are integral to the curriculum at the School, whereby Indian secular values are instilled and respect for diversity and the village elders are emphasized. Facilities for sports encourage students to participate in competitive games. At district level sports competitions, students have won awards every year.
As in any institution, the quality of education depends upon dedicated teaching staff. It is an expensive endeavor to attract quality instructors to a village school, and it is necessary to compensate them adequately with competitive salaries and annual increments in pay. Currently, the school charges the students a nominal tuition fee, and even this is waived for those who cannot afford it. The tuition income does not break even the expenses for running the school, although included in the forecasted ten-year plan is the goal to attain self-sufficiency.
The Samiti is extremely thankful for the significant support and generous donations from Dr. Stan Altan, Dr. and Mrs. Arvind Phatak, from Mrs. Meena Phatak, from Mr. and Mrs. Ram Swarup Arya, from Mr. and Mrs. Dev Dabas and their daughter Nitika, from Mr. and Mrs. Nitin and Monica Dahiya, from Mr. and Mrs. Greg and Susan Kreuer, from the Sirohi Family, and from the Singh, Bhan, and Kundra families.