Friday, November 28, 2008

Ronu Majumdar, eminent flautist performs for government schoolchildren

For more than 500 government schoolchildren in Hyderabad, 24 November 2008 will be a very memorable day. They were all special guests for a classical music programme, where Ronu Majumdar, eminent flautist performed. The programme was organised by Naandi as part of its Ensuring Children Learn programme.

“This is one of my most memorable performances and I enjoyed the most while performing for these children. I'm really grateful to Naandi for making this possible and also a huge success”, Shri Majumdar.

Children were fascinated by the melody of the flute and enjoyed every bit of the programme. “This is for the first time that I have attended such a programme. After listening to Panditji, I have become his fan and hope these kind of programmes are organised more often”. Usha Rani, Class 10, GPS Sheikpet.

“The programme was very entertaining and I had a lot of fun. I thank my school and for taking us to the programme. I want to learn to play the flute”, Vasavi, Class 5, GPS Sheikpet.

“Programmes like these need to be conducted more often as children value and enjoy music. It helps children in developing their knowledge about classical music. I could see children enjoying themselves. Exposure to such things will also make them want to learn new things and improve their creativity”, Shri Majumdar.

Apart from the schoolchildren, the programme was also attended by school headmasters and teachers.

Monday, November 17, 2008

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Project Nanhi Kali for the girl child

State of elementary education in India: 100 students to a class, 67 to a teacher

Anubhuti Vishnoi
Posted online: Oct 18, 2008 at 0120 hrs

New Delhi, October 17 : In yet another proof of the poor state of elementary education in India, latest data shows that school rooms in many states have as many as 100 students to a class, with a single teacher in-charge of 67 or more.
The District Information System for Education (DISE) data on elementary education in India, compiled by the National University of Educational Planning and Administration (NUEPA), reveals that Bihar, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh have one of the highest Student Classroom Ratios (SCRs).

In case of primary schools, Bihar, Jharkhand and UP have SCRs as high as 92, 79 and 53 respectively. The 2006-07 NUEPA report says Assam at 45 students per classroom, Madhya Pradesh at 43 and West Bengal at 50 are also on the higher side. As many as 16.45 per cent schools have SCR of 60 and above.

“These states should look into the matter without delay. Otherwise it would be difficult to retain children in school and may also be difficult for a teacher to handle all the children,” says the report, which lauds Himachal Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir for their ratios of 15 and 14, respectively.

A higher SCR has been observed in primary schools, and has been termed as needing “immediate intervention” by the NUEPA report.

Bihar scores low on another count as well — the number of female teachers, a priority under Operation Blackboard. Bihar (27.65 per cent), West Bengal (28.31 per cent), Jharkhand, Rajasthan and Tripura have the least number of female teachers, while Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Punjab have over 60 per cent female teachers. Bihar and Jharkand also stand at the bottom of the Educational Development Index (EDI).

Another key indicator that influences classroom transaction is the pupil-teacher ratio (PTR), and there too the same set of states is at the end of the tally. Against a comfortable average of 40:1, Bihar has a ratio of 67:1 in government schools. Interestingly, the case is even worse in privately managed schools, with the ratio standing at 71:1 in aided schools and 67:1 in non-aided schools.

Uttar Pradesh is no better, with a PTR as high as 55:1. As many as 12 per cent primary schools in UP have a PTR of 100, against just 0.02 per cent such schools in Kerala. However, overall the country has shown an improvement in PTR, with the ratio dropping from 36 to 34 per from 2005-06 to 2006-07. States like Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Delhi reported ideal PTRs, ranging from 16 to 25.

The data on teacher qualification shows up more shocking details.

“The qualification of a good number of teachers (2.92 per cent) is below Secondary level,” says the report. As many as 44.71 per cent teachers who impart elementary education in the country are Higher Secondary and below. While in many states the minimum qualification prescribed is Secondary, a few teachers are even below this level. Just over half (54 per cent) teachers across schools in rural and urban areas are graduates and post-graduates, with the number higher in urban areas.

However, amidst all the red marks in the NUEPA report card, there is good news as well. There is a definite improvement in school infrastructure in the country, and enrolment is also increasing gradually. The move towards modern education is also discernible, with 13 per cent, or over 1.6 lakh schools, with computers now. Maharashtra leads the tally. Only 7.6 per cent schools had computers in 2003-04. More schools have kitchen sheds, ramps, drinking water facilities and toilets.

The NUEPA report has for the first time also compiled data on Muslim children and it shows that while enrolment from the community is 9.39 per cent at the primary level, it drops to 7.52 per cent at upper primary level. The NUEPA hopes to expand this exercise and have more details next year on.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Best articles Featured In Times of India "Teach India Initiative"

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Naandi Foundation -Ensuring Children Learn-Hyderabad Comes forward to Teach india

We are glad to inform you that Naandi Foundation was metioned in the article published by The Times of India under the initiative called 'Teach India.'

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Mahatma Gandhi's views on Education

An education which does not teach us to discriminate between good and bad, to assimilate the one and eschew the other, is a misnomer.


Education should be so revolutionized as to answer the wants of the poorest villager, instead of answering those of an imperial exploiter.


Education in the understanding of citizenship is a short-term affair if we are honest and earnest.


Basic education links the children, whether of cities or the villages, to all that is best and lasting in India.


Is not education the art of drawing out full manhood of the children under training?


Literacy in itself is no education.


Literacy is not the end of education nor even the beginning.


Literacy education should follow the education of the hand-the one gift that visibly distinguishes man from beast.


Real education has to draw out the best from the boys and girls to be educated.


True education must correspond to the surrounding circumstances or it is not a healthy growth.


What is really needed to make democracy function is not knowledge of facts, but right education.


National education to be truly national must reflect the national condition for the time being.


The function of Nayee-Talim is not to teach an occupation, but through it to develop the whole man.


I believe that religious education must be the sole concern of religious associations.


By education I mean an all-round drawing out of the best in the child and man-body, mind and spirit.


By spiritual training I mean education of the heart.


Experience gained in two schools under my control has taught me that punishment does not purify, if anything, it hardens children.


I consider writing as a fine art. We kill it by imposing the alphabet on little children and making it the beginning of learning.


I do regard spinning and weaving as the necessary part of any national system of education.


The aim of university education should be to turn out true servants of the people who will live and die for the country's freedom.


A balanced intellect presupposes a harmonious growth of body, mind and soul.


Love requires that true education should be easily accessible to all and should be of use to every villager in this daily life.


The notion of education through handicrafts rises from the contemplation of truth and lovepermeating life's activities.


The fees that you pay do not cover even a fraction of the amount that is spent on your education from the public exchanger.


Persistent questioning and healthy inquisitiveness are the first requisite for acquiring learning of any kind.


If we want to impart education best suited to the needs of the villagers, we should take the vidyapith to the villages.


In a democratic scheme, money invested in the promotion of learning gives a tenfold return to the people even as a seed sown in good soil returns a luxuriant crop.


All education in a country has got to be demonstrably in promotion of the progress of the country in which it is given.


The schools and colleges are really a factory for turning out clerks for Government.


The canker has so eaten into the society that in many cases the only meaning of education is a knowledge of English.


The emphasis laid on the principle of spending every minute of one's life usefully is the best education for citizenship.

Friday, September 12, 2008

The discrimination 'curriculum' in M.P.'s schools

The discrimination 'curriculum' in M.P.'s schools

December 2007 - Government schools are meant the 'site of inclusive education', a place where children from all communities, caste, religion, sex can come together for learning and evolving as citizens. Due to their low costs, government schools, are catering to a larger section of society and children, especially in the rural and marginalised areas. However, in Madhya Pradesh, schools are also not able to cut loose from the caste-based discrimination that is already deep-rooted in society.

Situated approximately 10 kms away from Harda block headquarters in Harda district M.P., is Relwa village. It is habited by SCs, OBCs and the general community. Like many other Hindi belt villages, caste based discrimination against Dalits is quite overt here. There are different taps, wells and hamlets for Dalit and non Dalit community. Even the government primary school of this village is not spared from the instances of caste based discrimination.
There are three teachers in the Government Primary School in Relwa; one each from SC, ST and OBC. Dheeraj, a 9-year-old boy, studying in class III in this school is already able to talk about the persistent discrimination in his school. He says that his teacher Kuwar Prasad from an OBC community not only calls Dalit students by their caste name but also makes sure that he never asks Dalit students to fetch water for him. Once he had asked a child from his own community to fetch water for him but that child went to play and asked Dheeraj instead to get water. "When the teacher saw me bringing water for him, he called me by my caste name and said that I don't want to spoil my religion by drinking water from a low caste person and threw away the glass of water out of window," says Dheeraj.

A similar picture is presented during the mid day meal where Dalit children are not only made to sit separately from other caste students but are facing more discrimination. Tarun, a 11-year-old studying in class V in this school explains the humiliation. He says, "We are made to sit separately during the mid day meal because master sahab (Kuwar Prasad) says that other caste children will not eat with us. Also, we have our different utensils in school. Every child is supposed to carry his/her thali (plate) and we are not supposed to mix our thalis with other children in school".

Every child carrying his/her plate and not letting it mix with other children's plates. This is a more subtle form of discrimination, because the plates could easily be kept in school, since that is where the meals are cooked and served.

There's more. Tarun says that the lady serving food, Sevanti Bai, belongs to an OBC community and she never touches our plate while serving Dalit kids. "Also we are served first in our school and therefore, she never gives us more than 2 chapatis while she gives unlimited chapati and meal to children from other communities as they are served later. She scolds us when we ask more chapatis but she happily gives more food to other children." Tarun recognised the injustice. "If rules have to have any meaning and relevance, they should be same for everyone," he says.

Other villages of Dewas district are not very different. A class three student at the Government Girls School is, Bisakhedi, vividily depicts the agony of students belonging to the Dalit community. According to Shivkanya, girls living in the locality from the upper caste are given sufficient number of 'rotis' (Indian breads) to eat, but Dalit children get only one roti. She says, "Girls of upper caste locality don't have their meals with us. They sit away from us. They maintain a distance from us while eating.”

Shivkanya's friends Rani, Laxmi, Chandra, Shivani, Ladkuvar tell that they have to drink dirty water kept in a pot, while upper caste children drink from water tank.

At the Boys Primary School in Bisakhedi, Sachin, Ankit and Mahesh, say that they get beaten up by children of Thakurpura if they happen to pass by their houses. In the school, the teachers also ignore us, they say.

Bisakhedi comes under the scheduled caste dominated Sonkachha development block of Dewas district. The number of upper castes outnumber this village having a population of about five thousand. There are few dalits in the village. The village has separate primary schools for boys and girls. The mid-day meal for both the schools is cooked at the same place and distributed from there. Dalit children say they are discriminated in food and education. The state legislator for Sonkacha, Sajjan Singh Verma, merely says he will look into the matter.

Meera Bai, an elderly woman belonging to this community, is a member of the guardian teacher association, of which Shyam Singh is the president. Meera says that not just the children but the Dalit adults also face discrimination. She narrates an incident from the Republic Day celebrations of 2006, when food was prepared in the school for the children. "Being a member of guardian teacher association, I went to see arrangements and found the number of cooks was not sufficient. I therefore started preparing 'puris'. Shyam Singh, objected at this and said I shouldn't be allowed to cook. I was told to leave the room. Since then I haven't visited the school," she says.

School children along with their utensils at a Dewas school. Pic: Shuriah Niazi.

The situation then escalated to the point that mid-day meals were not served in school for 15 days. Meera Bai's story is supported by Kamla, who lives in a Dalit basti (locality). She says that the discrimination here is not only in schools, but the Dalits are also not allowed to enter the temples. However this story is not limited to Bisakhedi village alone. The situation is more or less the same in dozens of other villages of Dewas district like Chaubara, Dheera, Enabad, Dudhlai, Bairakhedi, Patadia Taj, Khajuria Kanka, Devgarh, Bhoransa and Amlataj. The Dalit children of these villages are humiliated day after day.

In Dewas district, discrimination clearly begins from school. Children learn discrimination here. Speaking on condition of anonymity, a OBC school teacher based in Dudhlai, says that they teachers try to ensure that children sit, play and study together. "But we are helpless before those children who choose to maintain a distance and do not mix up with Dalit kids due to some prejudice. They do not change despite a lot persuasion."

"We reproached the children who discriminate in this way. But we have our own compulsions. We’ve to live in the village, we can’t oppose too much," says the teacher.

However the mid-day meal is quite popular among the children. One reason behind going to school for these children is the meal. But due to the bias against them, these children are not able to get their rightful share in meals.

Sundar Singh of Ambedkar Vichar Manchi, who works in fifty villages of Harda block is of the view that discrimination exists mostly in rural area schools. "If we do something than people from lower caste residing in those villages face the consequences," he added. Singh says they may face social boycott or may be transferred from the area under pressure from people from the upper castes.

This is the grim picture of humiliation faced by Dalit children in Madhya Pradesh. Their only fault is that they are born in a Dalit family and thus are made to bear the brunt in their everyday lives. Dalit children have accepted this discrimination as their fate and have perhaps started believing that it is only the other caste children who can serve and eat full mid-day meals, fetch water for teachers and visit the kitchen.

Schools are meant for making better citizens out of our children but in the Dewas district of Madhya Pradesh, they are ending up forging and reinforcing caste-bondages instead. The big question in Dewas is this: What are we promoting through our schools, inclusive education or 'sites of discrimination'? ⊕

Shuriah Niazi

Shuriah Niazi is a Bhopal-based freelance journalist. This article is part of a series on education sponsored by Aide-et-Action India, a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to making education the lever for development.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

World Report on Violence against Children

The World Report on Violence against Children provides a more detailed account of the Study presented to the UN General Assembly. The book was launched at the United Nations in Geneva on the occasion of Universal Children’s Day and the 15th anniversary of the Committee on the Rights of the Child.

World Report on Violence against Children

The UN Study on Violence against Children

The Study was presented by the independent expert Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro to the Third Committee of the General Assembly in New York on 11 October 2006. The Study provides an understanding of the nature, extent, causes, and consequences of different forms of violence against children (physical, psychological, and sexual), taking into account five main settings in which violence takes place – the family, schools, care and residential institutions as well as detention facilities and prisons, in work situations, and in communities and on the streets. A range of cross cutting issues are featured including trafficking and exploitation, refugees, separated and internally displaced children, and children affected by HIV.

The UN Study on Violence against Children

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Mother died, What about the child?

Dt; 14-08-2008

Name of the Village:- Giriliguda Prepared by :- Babu Rao AV

Vanthali Janaki from Griliguda, Andhra Pradesh found Naandi as the substitute for God in her pregnancy. Her family members were contented with the attitude shown by Naandi towards Vanthali . Naandi team meticulously made the entry into the family and considered it as their basic responsibility to look after the pregnant lady. Vanthali gave birth to her child under the close observation of Naandi team. Vanthali's family members were elated and were all praise for the Naandi team who did splendid job by taking all precautions for safe and hygienic delivery.
After two months of delivery, Vanthali decided to visit her parents . In her parents House Vanthali suffered from fever, where there was no one to look after her. Naandi doesn't have any operation centre in the area where Vanthali had gone . One day on their service to Giriliguda, Naandi Team members enquired about Vanthali, where her husband, Hari gave them information about her. Naandi suggested Hari to bring his wife back as soon as possible. The negligence of family members resulted in Vanthali's death.Everyone in her family is feeling dejected. All are concerned about the fate of new born baby and his future.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Education set to become your right

8 Aug 2008, 0016 hrs IST, Akshaya Mukul & Mahendra Kumar Singh,TNN
NEW DELHI: After a wait of more than four years and a lot of dithering and resistance from finance and law ministries, the Union Cabinet will finally take up the Right to Education Bill for consideration on Friday. The bill promises free and compulsory education to children between 6 and 14 years of age by making it a fundamental right.

The proposed enabling legislation, first mooted by the Kothari Commission in 1964 and later passionately argued for by former education minister M C Chagla, will come before the cabinet six years after the 86th Constitutional Amendment making free and compulsory education a fundamental right. Earlier, it was part of Directive Principles of State Policy of the Constitution.

The proposed bill is expected to be introduced in the Monsoon session of Parliament and is unlikely to meet any resistance since both NDA and Left have been demanding it for a long time. The constitutional amendment was done during the NDA regime but it would be notified only after the enabling bill becomes a law.

The right to education will cost the exchequer Rs 12,000 crore a year. Private unaided schools will also be in its ambit as the school will be required to reserve 25% of seats for poor children in the neighbourhood.

Parents to be part of school panel
To ensure that parents have equal stake in the system, the bill provides for school management committees in all government and aided schools. It would monitor and oversee the working of the school, manage its assets and ensure quality. There is also a provision that teacher vacancy should never exceed more than 10% of total strength.

To monitor the implementation of the law, the bill proposes a national commission for elementary education to be headed by a chairperson who would be appointed by a committee consisting of the PM, leaders of opposition in both houses, HRD minister and Lok Sabha Speaker.

In 2004, when UPA came to power, HRD ministry had asked a committee of the Central Advisory Board of Education headed by Kapil Sibal to do the costing of providing right to education. It had estimated that the RTE cost would hover between Rs 3,21,196 crore to Rs 4,36,458 crore. Government then developed cold feet on the project.

Later, PM Manmohan Singh set up a high level committee under HRD minister Arjun Singh and consisting of finance minister P Chidambaram, Planning Commission deputy chairperson Montek Singh Ahluwalia and economic adviser to PM, C Rangarajan.

Looking at the cost involved, the committee after many meetings proposed that instead of a central law, state governments should enact their legislations to implement the constitutional obligation. Centre was only willing to provide a model bill. Unanimous protests by the states saw the PM swing into action again.

On its part, HRD ministry brought the cost down. One, it realized that already a large section of children in the age-group of 6-14 are covered under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan. Two, the ministry also studied child population figures and found that there is reverse growth in this age category. HRD brought the cost down to Rs 2,28,674 crore over six years. Still not convinced, finance ministry wanted further cost-cutting.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Lessons from Friere, an excerpt from Pedagogy of the oppressed chapter 2

Pedagogy of the Oppressed - Chapter 2
by Paulo Freire - 1970
A careful analysis of the teacher-student relationship at any level, inside or outside the school, reveals its fundamentally narrative character. This relationship involves a narrating Subject (the teacher) and patient, listening objects (the students) .The contents, whether values or empirical dimensions of reality, tend in the process of being narrated to become lifeless and petrified. Education is suffering from narration sickness.
The teacher talks about reality as if it were motionless, static, compartmentalized, and predictable. Or else he expounds on a topic completely alien to the existential experience of the students. His task is to "fill" the students with the contents of his narration-contents which are detached from reality, disconnected from the totality that engendered them and could give them significance. Words are emptied of their concreteness and become a hollow, alienated, and alienating verbosity.
The outstanding characteristic of this narrative education, then, is the sonority of words, not their transforming power. "Four times four is sixteen; the capital of Para is Belem." The student records, memorizes, and repeats these phrases without perceiving what four times four really means, or realizing the true significance of "capital" in the affirmation "the capital of Para is Belem," that is, what Belem means for Para and what Para means for Brazil.
Narration (with the teacher as narrator) leads the students to memorize mechanically the narrated content. Worse yet, it turns them into "containers," into "receptacles" to be "filled" by the teacher. The more completely he fills the receptacles, the better a teacher he is. The more meekly the receptacles permit themselves to be filled, the better students they are.
Education thus becomes an act of depositing, in which the students are the depositories and the teacher is the depositor. Instead of communicating, the teacher issues communiqués and makes deposits which the students patiently receive, memorize, and repeat. This is the "banking" concept of education, in which the scope of action allowed to the students extends only as far as receiving, filing, and storing the deposits. They do, it is true, have the opportunity to become collectors or cataloguers of the things they store. But in the last analysis, it is men themselves who are filed away through the lack of creativity, transformation, and knowledge in this (at best) misguided system. For apart from inquiry, apart from the praxis, men cannot be truly human. Knowledge emerges only through invention and re-invention, through the restless, impatient, continuing, hopeful inquiry men pursue in the world, with the world, and with each other.
In the banking concept of education, knowledge is a gift bestowed by those who consider themselves knowledgeable upon those whom they consider to know nothing. Projecting an absolute ignorance onto others, a characteristic of the ideology of oppression, negates education and knowledge as processes of inquiry. The teacher presents himself to his students as their necessary opposite; by considering their ignorance absolute, he justifies his own existence. The students, alienated like the slave in the Hegelian dialectic, accept their ignorance as justifying the teacher's existence - but, unlike the slave, they never discover that they educate the teacher.
The raison d'etre of libertarian education, on the other hand, lies in its drive towards reconciliation. Education must begin with the solution of the teacher-student contradiction, by reconciling the poles of the contradiction so that both are simultaneously teachers and students.
This solution is not (nor can it be) found in the banking concept. On the contrary, banking education maintains and even stimulates the contradiction through the following attitudes and practices, which mirror oppressive society as a whole:
(a) the teacher teaches and the students are taught;
(b) the teacher knows everything and the students know nothing;
(c) the teacher thinks and the students are thought about;
(d) the teacher talks and the students listen-meekly;
( e) the teacher disciplines and the students are disciplined;
(f) the teacher chooses and enforces his choice, and the students comply;
(g) the teacher acts and the students have the illusion of acting through the action of the teacher;
(h) the teacher chooses the program content, and the students (who were not consulted) adapt to it;
(i) the teacher confuses the authority of knowledge with his own professional authority, which he sets in opposition to the freedom of the students;
(j) the teacher is the Subject of the learning process, while the pupils are mere objects.
It is not surprising that the banking concept of education regards men as adaptable, manageable beings, The more students work at storing the deposits entrusted to them, the less they develop the critical consciousness would result from their intervention in the world. The more completely they accept the passive role imposed on them, the more they tend simply to adapt to the world as it is and to the fragmented view of reality deposited in them.

The capability of banking education to minimize or annul the students' creative power and to stimulate their credulity serves the interests of the oppressors, who care neither to have the world revealed nor to see it transformed. The oppressors use their "humanitarianism" to preserve a profitable situation. Thus they react almost instinctively against any experiment in education which stimulates the critical faculties and is not content with a partial view of reality but always seeks out the ties which link one point to another and one problem to another.

Paulo Freire was a Brazilian educator and is an influential theorist of education.

Friday, July 18, 2008

City of Two Tales

Children in classroom (Government school)

"If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin".

Hyderabad today is an embodiment of well-heeled city in terms of its representation in mainstream media. The rapid growth phase since last decade has placed Hyderabad among the apical cities of India .Hyderabad as technological and knowledge hub has made its mark both nationally and internationally. With all these accomplishments, this historical city of Nawab's has also a very gloomy side to it. The city is partitioned on nomenclature basis into two major areas named as old city and new city. As the name is titled on the concept of time, old city part of it tells a story of exploitation and stands out in sharp contrast to the new city. While the information technology and biotechnology boom has brought people from different parts of the country, it is local residents of old city who are unable to get benefited from their native city's acclaimed potential.

It was in month of July when I got an opportunity to Visit rural areas of Hi-tech Hyderabad. The NGO at present I am working with Naandi Foundation endowed me with documenting the activities of the workshop, conducted in three different areas. Naandi Foundation works with Government of Andhra Pradesh to reach the children in public schools in order to ensure them learn. By virtuousness of its Ensuring Children Learn (ECL) Program, 64,250 government schoolchildren in 450 schools across 11 Mandals in Hyderabad are catered with basic amenities while pursuing their education. A 4 days workshop to serve this purpose was conducted by ECL Hyderabad in Charminar, Dayanandagar and Vijayanagar Colony. The primary intention of the program was to train the community activists (CA's) and making them understand the theory of engaging with the children. Charminar, being the celebrated place fascinated me more than the other two centers. I was thankfully allowed to exercise my choice for documenting processes at workshop conducted in Urdu ghar ( Home of urdu) near Asra Hospital, Charminar. The Streets surrounding Urdu Ghar were installed with numerous pan Shops and Tea stalls. The overwhelming response of people to tobacco consumption make these pan shops the places of eminent importance. The so-called exposed section of the locality conglomerate several times a day to discuss day to day to problems of the world on these pan shops. The street corners had turned brownish red as the pan and tobacco chewers regard these corners as enviable spots for spitting. This chaotic Milieu of Charminar gives an impression of alien in the wonderland for the people who know Hyderabad from Indian Newspapers. The distance of 5 km from new city to old city is an incommensurable transition that any one can rarely find in other parts of the world.
Old City of Hyderabad especially Charminar is inhabited by Muslim majority who widely have Urdu as medium of their instruction. In this inherent part of Hyderabad education is in lamentable shape. The state machinery is unable to deliver goods in old city of Hyderabad. The area has plethora of schools and genuine number of schoolchildren, despite all these positives, nothing is commendable. The unconcerned politics,bureaucratic structures and negligence of people has deeply contaminated primary education status in poverty stricken old city. While some criticize callous attitude of the government towards old city, while as others criticizing negligence of parental care, no one is ready to take the initiative to handle the system and face the ground realities. Numerous discourses used to happen in the form of seminars, conferences but all these intellectual discourses on changing the scenario have modicum or no effect on the practical grounds. In this sense the initiative taken by Naandi Foundation with the help of government is laudable. To meet the ground realities, Naandi Foundation with the help of Government of Andhra Pradesh has taken the initiative to meet these ground realities in order to bridge the gap.
My visit to three schools in highly backward areas near Charminar gave me an opportunity to personally engage with parents, children and school teachers. My first visit was to Tabela Donger (TD) Singh Govt. High School (Urdu Medium) in Hafez Babanagar established in 2002 by Govt. of Andhra Pradesh Social Welfare Department. Naandi runs one of its many academic Support Centers (ASC's) in T.D School. The area is inhabited by a whopping population of approximately 1 lakh people. This prominent and colossal School has only able to attract 749 children, (443 girls,306 boys), having teacher to student ratio as 1:40 ( Teacher:student). The school from outside give a very good impression with its well constructed building. On the day of visit it was merely 50% of children present in the school. While speaking to Head master of the School M.A Jabar, for the reason of the low attendance.
Mr. Jabar remarks
“Attendance has remained a major problem in this school as the parents prefer their children to attend various ceremonies in homes rather than school.”
While Mr. Jabar believes that it is the negligence of the parents due to which the condition in the schools is so much deplorable. While this being a perspective of headmaster, I had no option than to meet some parents of the children whether they really accept the blame. My first talk was with Nazima Begum's ( 5th standard student) father, as in this part of the world you are always your fathers child than mothers. Nazima's father Mohd. Hussain was a mechanic, who's work is to repair motor bikes in the nearby area. Here I was clueless whether really to blame Hussain Saab, who takes it all to meet his both ends meal. How can be a mechanic, being himself overburdened with other family responsibilities with no knowledge of education held responsible for his child's studies. At least his child has got the chance to make it to 5th standard, the old father had never been able to get a chance to visit a school, else than some introduction to some deeny- taleem (religious knowledge). It is the whole structures that are to blamed for this distressing condition. Naandi has adopted Nanhi Kali program by the virtue of which it tracks the girls annually in order to ensure them at least to qualify 10 th class. In India out of 10 girls admitted in primary schools it is only 3 girls who make it to 10 th standard. One can imagine the fate of girls in this area where men are of paramount importance.
Now the School teachers are planning for door to door campaign to force parents to send their children to school. My visit to other schools was of similar experience with only slight increase in the intensity of problems faced by the children in poorly managed schools.
During the workshop that was conducted in Urdu Ghar, Community Activists (CA's) were said to solve worksheets for the children and identify complexities in the worksheets that are later provided to children. The Community Activists (CA's) with the guidance of Academic Resource Coordinators (ARC's) tried to demystify every complexness in the worksheets for the Children. In schools a specific focus is on low performance children, who are often alienated in the classroom thereby resulting their “drop out” at an early stage. Such children are identified during the base line assessment conducted in all schools where Academic Support Centers (ASC's) are being set up by Naandi Foundation. The majority of the children under this program are from subaltern families. The parents of most of the children are daily wage laborers for whom it becomes difficult to guide their children.
Hyderabad claimed to be the Cyber-City has huge task before it to be the among the vanguard cities of the India and off course of the world. The self centered vested interests need to be exposed and work for education of deprived sections of the children. Improvement of the Government schools in the city is needed to be done. Development is a contested term lets give it a meaning in the form of fighting for educational development in the city.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Training of trainers workshop, Chittoor

Tell me and I'll forget. Show me, and I may not remember. Involve me, and I'll understand.

A three day workshop was conducted by ECL Hyderabad as a part of mission ensuring children learn in Gusty winds of Horsely Hills of Chittoor District.
Demystifying the text to ensure the children to learn remained the fundamental motive for three day workshop. In puffy winds over the hilly Horsely Hills of Chittoor District of Hyderabad Andhra Pradesh, the ECL members participated with vigor and passion to make the workshop an inspiring accomplishment. The workshop served as a channel for ECL members to professionalize themselves in order to comprehend the basic notion of pedagogy. Elevating the grade specific competencies of children in language, mathematics and science across curriculum's was the vital tenet of the workshop. The meticulous approach of the wholehearted team enabled the facilitators to finish their undertaking in an effortless manner.
9th June 2008-11th june
The workshop began with a moralistic story narrated by Ms.Lalitha Naidu, DGM ECL Hyderabad. The initial talk ensured the participants how shedding the differences, egos and maintaining homogeneity serve as vehement element to work in a group. This was followed by Former President A.P.J Abdul Kalam Azad's Pearls of wisdom. It is always important to come out the stereotype and think in a practical way. Instead of negating the potentialities India a nation has, it is duty of every senior citizen to ensure developed India for the younger generation. Rather than criticizing the system, it is the individual self that need to be the part of the system to change the system.
The session was supplemented by Preetha Bhakta's ,DGM ERG Hyderabad, impeccable speech about ways of coordinating with each other. The speech followed by “tie with the rope” exercise which focused on interpreting actions in non verbal communication. With spectrum of people one need to assimilate, imbibe the plurality thus to give group smooth texture. The exercise made the milieu exciting in which few errors were detected. Most of the people don't like to cross the barriers thus reluctant of networking with each other. To solve this problem participants were taught of group etiquettes. Some times it becomes important to compromise the age old practices with modern strategies.
With this the ARC members were introduced to identify causes and issues in case study about Swalalamban Abhiyaan, an NGO.the whole group was fractioned into eight groups. Immense enthusiasm was shown by the groups to live up to their highest potential. The group representatives put all efforts to prove their superiority over the other in tackling the problem. Later all groups were conglomerated into a single group. The group was then partitioned into two groups, one headed by PO's ECL Hyderabad Mr. Shastri and Mr. Naveen respectively.
The two groups were supposed to speak for and against the question given to them. Arguable debate was instantaneously stirred up. The fiery contestants tried hard to dominate the session by using their vocal chords maximally. With this the exercise came to end and participants were felicitated for their enormous zeal in participating the debate. The whole exercise was referred as a technique for creating a milieu for introspection.
Monitoring mechanism of ECL Hyderabad was screened afterwards in which several methods of material/worksheet development were explained. Mr. Shastri then installed incalculable spirit to the group with his dynamism. Post dinner cultural program was organized which was the embodiment of how culture and tradition need to be preserved to understand the basic connotation of life.
The next morning started with yoga where participation from everyone was mandatory. It followed by lessons about the repercussions of procrastination. Then route was taken to track the Horsely Hills . Many of the girls surpassed their male counterparts to reach the top of the hill, thus breaking the notion of male chauvinism. The overwhelming coordination in the team was epitome of making the impossible possible. A “kabadi” match was being played on the top of the hill by men staff. Later the female staff formed two groups and started played Kho- Kho. The time constraint prevented the referee to announce the winner, thus route was taken back to plain fields to split for the lunch. The realization of non availability of cook put all the approaching staff in bewilderment. Without arguing the decision was taken to get ready for the exercise. The whole team especially females showed immense interest in cooking the food. Soon after the delicious lunch, an energizing exercise was instigated to freshen up the tired minds. In the exercise all were questioned about their individual experiences in tracking the hills. The individual experiences were then related to professional ways of performing task.
After this exciting session the ARC members were given lessons about micro teaching, facilitation. Dinner followed this informative session followed again by cultural program. The performers entertained the audiences by giving their best shot.
The final day of the workshop revolved around the role of facilitators in bringing best out of children. With this the questionnaire was prepared to analyze the agenda for cluster meeting. Workshop ended with feedback taken from the participants in order to know their view about the workshop.
Place -Chittoor, Andhra Pradesh
Project- Ensuring Children Learn
Deputy General Managers (DGM's)- 2
Program Officers (PO's) -4
assistant Managers (AM's)- 2
Academic research Coordinators (ARC's)-41
Nanhi Kali Coordinators (NKC's)- 5
Community Mobilizing Coordinators (CMC's)-2
Assistant Project Officers (APO's)-1

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Pedagogy Reconsidered

Ensuring children Learn (ECL) is an approach projected with the firm belief that every child can learn. The approach is called Cooperative and reflective Learning approach. Milieu in the classroom is learning oriented and child focused, where teachers is a facilitator and not a lecturer. The approach works along the line of “Theory of Engagement” which believes that in a muti-graded, muti- level learning environment, every child need to be engaged in a learning activity and should actively participate in the learning process. It also believes that child friendly, interactive, enjoyable and motivating activities are a must in the classroom. This increases the responsibility of the facilitator (CA) as they have to understand the procedures to be followed to make the children meaningfully engaged in the learning processes.
The current learning system in schools does not include critical thinking, problem solving and problem attacking abilities that are part of the learning process in children. The pedagogy is teacher directed and not learner centric.
Key Elements of the Program Design:
In the present proposed approach learning readiness skills will be seen as a major focus, especially for children in 1st Class before beginning formal academic learning. It is important that children are ready for such learning. Areas of gross and fine motor skills, basic language comprehension skills, attention, task completion, eye hand coordination etc will be developed. The focus here is to prevent the development of any learning delays in the formative period.
Academic Support Centre: The focus at ASCs is to bridge the gaps between expected and current learning levels. Classes 2 to 5 will be covered under this programme. Children who have not been able to acquire the competencies of the previous grades find it difficult to cope with current requirements. In addition, to bridging the gap, the competencies for their respective grades have to be developed. Thus the objective of the ASC is to address the backlog and bring the children to the required grade level competencies.
Once children graduate to their grade level competencies and their learning deficiencies addressed to, activities will have to be identified and developed to transact the content in their grade level text books. All the 4 grades will be covered under this programme.
Program Process:
The programme will develop understanding and expression through listening, speaking, stories, songs, poetry, drama, music, games, artwork, craft, reading and writing. Language learning in this programme will be looked as meaning making and not, only as means of communication. The whole idea is to help the child make sense of their experience and to unlock their imagination to express themselves as freely as possible. Discussing, describing, asking and debating will be encouraged through activities.
Children will learn from one another. Children will be facilitated and encouraged to form groups, work with each other using each others strengths as a resources in the classroom process. A set of principles will be formed so that the group has gender balance, levels of learning, listening while others speak, sorting out differences etc will be evolved. The facilitator (CA) would plan ways of managing time and engaging task to the children. The time on task would be tracked by the facilitator by moving from one group to another.
Building on the prior knowledge of the children, games, stories and activities would be developed which will be essential for the children to connect themselves to the programme.
Varied teaching materials will be used to build and sustain children’s interest and to provide a simulating environment for learning. The whole idea of providing varied sensory experience for children will be reflected in the books, charts, pocket boards, pictures, beads, number cards etc and the activities that will be planned. Workbooks which have already been provided to children will be used and additional worksheets will also be used as children need a space to work on their own. The worksheets will provide children to work at their own pace, seek help from others and also help others to practice the learned skills. The worksheet will also be a primary assessment tools for the CAs. The CA would explain the instruction on how to use the worksheets to the children in groups, evaluate and grade them which in turn would help the CAs to plan further for the respective group.
In the beginning the children would be made to sit in a mixed group environment. The workbooks and the task given to children will help the CA in understanding children’s abilities after which the children would be reorganized into groups based on their abilities. Each group will be assigned with a team leader who would be from the same group but is faster in her / his work and from a higher class i.e. for group of 2 & 3 class the leader would be from class 3 and so on. In the ability wise grouping, management of group learning becomes easier.
The group leader would interact with the CA on a daily basis and help his / her group to complete the task given for the particular day. In short, the ASC will have children sitting in groups, will move around freely, collect materials that they need, help each other and listen to explanations. Reading text would be used everyday for loud reading including oral answer to question which would be treated as an important task before engaging children in using the work sheets thus developing their oral articulation.
The worksheets/workbook would be well designed and the task clearly defined. The sheets would be graded according to difficulty level of complexity. The CA would be well conversant with the design of the worksheets/workbook. This will help the CA to describe in detail the instructions of the worksheet to be used to the lower level group of children, simultaneously the higher level group would proceed with the next task in the respective worksheets / workbook based on the CAs briefing.
The briefing session by the CA becomes the feedback session on each level of children. All session would start with an expected outcome.
The government functionaries will be involved in every step of the intervention. The school teachers will be oriented to the materials and the learning methods.
A separate task force will be formed which will have coordinators working closely with the schools, ASCs and CAs. The task force formed should be able to take classes and they should have direct access to children. Sharing and reflection with the team would be build into the programme. The task force members would have weekly visits to every school. A cluster meeting with the CAs will be held on a weekly basis to begin with and later would meet on a fortnightly basis. These fortnightly meeting would reviews the progress and problems of the CAs. They will be encouraged to share their experiences with each other and the task force members. These reviews will help in fine tuning the programme and understanding issues better and to learn from each other.
Quantitative assessments will be conducted to understand the impact of the programme. The process of assessment and evaluation would be more comprehensive. Apart from the existing Learning assessments carried out by Educational Initiatives (EI), daily evaluation and assessment in-build to the programme would be used. Apart from competency based learning, oral articulation, critical thinking, problem solving and problem attacking skills would be assessed