EDUCATION: American artist, Indian royal family collaborate to build unique desert school for BPL girls

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(Our Bureau, July 2) In the middle of the Thar Desert stands a curious structure. Made of yellow sandstone is an oval building that blends into the landscape. Yet, there’s something about it that draws one to it. It is the Rajkumari Ranavati Girls’ School that despite being located in the desert needs no air conditioners. Spearheaded by American artist Michael Daube of CITTA, which works in the education and health sector, the school was conceptualized to educate girls from the region.

  • Ten years in the making, Daube roped in US-based architect Diana Kellogg to design the structure in a manner that students can study and play in the premises without worrying about the extreme weather conditions. In Rajasthan, the peak summer temperatures hover around the 50 degree mark. To combat this, Kellogg built a solar panel canopy on the roof to act as a cooling system. The walls are filled with jalis (trellis) to keep out the heat and the elliptical shape of the building creates a cooling panel of airflow, stated a report in Arch Daily.
  • Located near Jaisalmer’s Sam Dunes, the school in Kanoi village was built to educate girls from BPL families. Land for the school was provided to Rajamata Rajeshwari Devi by Manvendra Singh of Jaisalmer Foundation, who also raised funds for the project from Mumbai and New York. Contributions also poured in from several Bollywood celebrities and designers.
  • The school will initially educate girls up to class 5 and will gradually scale up to class 10. Some of the facilities include classrooms, a library, computer lab, midday meals, and school bus facilities. The launch of the school has been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic; however, plans are afoot to launch classes in a few months once the situation improves.
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