Earth Focus Kanha’s work in education and livelihoods aims to build dignity and sustainable employment in the local context through leveraging community traditions and ecosystem services.
Our team acts as the backbone or convening platform, driving the vision, strategy, operations and innovation. For our core programs, we partner closely with implementation experts, such as Aide et Action for primary education. We are directly involved in pilot initiatives such as agroforestry on fallow land. We place a strong emphasis on knowledge and documentation to ensure that our learnings can be replicated and scaled.
We intend to be an ecosystem enabler in Kanha. We have both a systems lens and relationships with the community to drive a holistic, integrated and sustainable model. We also intend to keep the community at the center, lifting their voices and sparking their agency.
We support students from 1,000+ families by delivering contextually relevant approaches through curricula and resources on biodiversity and tribal customs. We use research-backed methodologies such as emergent literacy to ensure that children have the strongest possible learning foundations. As our work expands into middle and high school, we will also explicitly focus on developing the 21st century skills — collaboration, communication, creativity, critical thinking — and cutting edge STEAM (science, technology, education, arts, mathematics) interventions. Our youth education efforts will culminate in apprenticeships leading to meaningful work streams connected to the nature-based economy around Kanha.
Community members play a crucial role in our education efforts. We have created Mata Samitis (mothers’ committees) in each of the 14 villages where we work, which play a key role in enhancing community participation in children’s education and pioneering a range of initiatives from raising nutrition to community farming.
Our community-owned sustainable livelihoods work synthesizes scientific expertise and traditional knowledge. This involves designing equitable access to water, reintroducing local crops and millets, and agroforestry. Especially through unlocking the potential of community-driven regenerative agriculture on fallow lands, we believe our efforts will not only boost household income and nutrition but also contribute to soil and water health and the local ecosystem.
We also intend to kick-start non-farm livelihoods involving livestock and bamboo. We aim to transfer ownership of these systems and livelihood inputs to the community while helping to build the structures and processes for them to break out of persistently low yields, limited employment prospects and conflict over scarce resources.
Responsive, decentralized governance is key to our livelihoods work. There is immense potential to harness several government schemes and partner with local departments. We intend to increase community awareness and access to their legislated rights towards transformative livelihood outcomes.
Earth Focus is developing a life sciences programme that focuses on the life of people and biodiversity in and around Kanha National Park. This will be manifested in a holistic intervention that leverages community traditions and practices, generates learning from socio-economic cycles, and develops an appreciation for Kanha’s biodiversity.
Coupled with our education intervention, life sciences will serve as the overarching frame that is integrated into literacy and numeracy at the pre-primary and primary levels, and specific subjects as students enter middle and high school. We believe this is essential to making students’ education more representative of their lives and surroundings, developing an understanding for ecosystem services, and arresting the trend of degradation of biodiversity by communities whose forebears had been nature’s guardians.
The life sciences curriculum will also include biodiversity sensitization content and activities for adult community members. This will help them make clearer connections between their economic activities and a healthy ecosystem, and address challenges arising from conflicts with wild animals. We intend for the content from this curriculum — including storybooks, games and activities that are locally sourced and created — to be open-sourced so they can be implemented in similar contexts across Central India.