Following the end of final exams and the Indian school year, the AIC Education Outreach Program children were thrilled to hear that we would be running the traditional AIC summer camp again this year. This summer's program, however, was even more ambitious than ever before, and was planned and executed in its entirety by M.K. Didi, AIC volunteer extraordinaire.
During the summer program, the children and staff participated in a plethora of cool, educational (but also fun!) projects:
The following week, we went for a picnic to Sambhaji Park, where children and staff alike enjoyed games, an obstacle course, toy train rides, ropes climbing and of course, some picnic treats like mango juice and chips!
Finally, to wrap up the summer camp, we held an end-of-year function, complete with dancing, singing, camp participation certificates, attendance awards (cash prizes for students with the best attendance all year, and small gifts for the students with perfect attendance for the month of March), and appreciation and acknowledgment to our local supporters. Of course, no function at the Education Outreach Program is complete without snacks, so all of the parents and children were treated to samosas and kulfi (ice cream) on their way out.
The AIC summer camp, picnic and end-of-year function were the perfect way to wrap up the 2012-2013 school year and celebrate our students’ successful academic progression as they move one step closer to becoming the first graduates in their families!
This fall has been busy as usual at the Education Outreach Program!
In October, six members of the teaching staff attended the much-anticipated inspirED 2012 conference in Pune, a coming-together of visionaries, professionals, government actors and educators committed to the transformation of education in India. The conference was hosted by Teach for India and even included a featured session by Wendy Kopp, founder of Teach for America. It was truly an inspirational event for the AIC teachers, who returned from the workshop invigorated and ready to bring about change in the field of education. Three teachers also attended a workshop about special education practices, as we have many students in the Education Outreach Program who have additional educational needs to be met. We can't wait to see how the teachers put to use what they learned in their own classrooms at AIC!
October and November were busy study months for the students at AIC, with midterm exams rapidly approaching in the first week of November. Once miderms were over, everyone could breathe a sigh of relief and enjoy the festivities associated with Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights. Students attended the annual Diwali party, one of their favorite events of the year, at the Education Outreach Centre! Following the party, the Centre was closed for two weeks for Diwali holidays, and everyone enjoyed the opportunity for relaxation and festivities.
In December, a new Education Outreach Program Director was brought on board! Mrs. Bunty Pai comes to us with years of teaching experience and will take over for current Program Director Claudia in January. She brings a desire to inculcate the love of learning in our children and a commitment to effectively manage of those who directly influence our children: our teachers. We also hired a new On-Site Programs Administrator, Manali Kulkarni, in December. Manali will be liaising with our directors onsite and our CEO in the US to take care of volunteers, our administrative needs, and our Education Outreach Child Sponsorship program. Manali brings an award-winning work ethic and a much-needed attention to important details, and we are very happy that she and Bunty have joined Team AIC!
And as the final hurrah of 2012, a group of fabulous local supporters threw a holiday party for the children of the Education Outreach Program! Dancing, food, individual gifts for each and every child, and meeting Santa Claus were the highlights of the day, and we are very grateful for the joy that these supporters brought to our children.
Thank you for giving us so much to be thankful for this year. Here's to a promising 2013 of continuing to change lives together!
Six-year-old Arjun, one of our new students in the AIC Education Outreach Program, is having an eventful start to the new school year...
Arjun's parents are masala (spice) sellers from the Waghri community, earning about 2,000 rupees ($40) per month to support him and his four older siblings. Last year, his oldest brother Umesh was the only one in his family who was granted admission into the AIC Education Outreach Program, due to limited space. Umesh worked hard as a 10th standard student, and, with the guidance and support of his teachers at AIC, has now graduated from secondary school and moved on to college (11th standard). This spring, his four younger siblings, including Arjun, were excited to be offered spots in the Education Outreach Program as well.
Shortly after his admission into the program, it quickly became apparent that Arjun has a problem with his right eye, and after some initial medical investigation, we scheduled a cataract surgery to correct the condition. As is often the case in these particular slum communities, Arjun had never previously attended school at the time of his enrollment in the Education Outreach Program. This means that in the span of three months, he started school for the first time (1st standard, English-medium), began attending the AIC Education Outreach Program for daily meals and tutoring, and - last but definitely not least - will be having cataract surgery later this week!
It has truly been a busy three months for this little guy, and we can't wait to see how he continues to grow and develop once his eyesight improves and he settles into his new school and tutoring routine!
It's that time of year again! After a 2 month break from school, all of the children at the Education Outreach Centre are now back in school. To ensure that they didn't forget everything they learned last year (and since so many kids rely on AIC for their meals and medical treatment), we only gave them a 2 week holiday at the Centre. So despite the fact that school is just starting again now, the AIC Education Outreach kids spent the month of May attending their daily tutoring classes.
New admissions to the Education Outreach Program took place over a week in April and included the following new additions to the program: 16 nursery students, 2 children into the kindergarten program, 4 English-medium children in upper standards (1st standard and above) and 12 Marathi-medium students in upper standards (1st standard and above). All in all, 34 new students were admitted to the program through the April admissions process. While it is hard to leave so many names on the waiting list, we at AIC have to be realistic about our ability to offer the highest quality of education and care to those in our Education Outreach Program, and must make admissions decisions based on that ultimate goal. Furthermore, even though we moved into a new (bigger) building just one year ago, space continues to be a limiting factor for the program, and classes run non-stop from 7am until 8pm every day to maximize our use of the facilities!
Before classes started again in May, On-Site Director Claudia held a "painting party" at the Education Outreach Program, and the classrooms were completely scrubbed from top to bottom and repainted in bright, cheerful colors. We are so grateful that many local supporters and friends of AIC (as well as the Residential Program children) came and devoted their entire day to the painting party - the end result is great! It is quite a fresh, welcome change from the whitewashed walls that we had been living with since last year when we moved in. In addition, the nursery classroom walls were partially tiled to allow for easier clean-up, and many necessary repairs and improvements were made to the facilities over this short 2 week break from classes. Thank you to all who helped with the painting and improvements!
With more than a month of tutoring and preparatory studies under their belts, the AIC students were excited to go back to school in the middle of June. They have received all of their school supplies and books and are now being outfitted for new uniforms, school bags and everything else that they need to get off to the best possible start to the new year.
We also received our 10th standard students' Board Examination results in June, and are thrilled to report that we had a 100% pass rate! In a country where only 15% of Indians reach high school, and a mere 7% actually pass 10th standard, this is a huge accomplishment for our students. Some of these students have been with us since the Education Outreach Program started in 2006 and we are excited to help them continue on their journey as they begin the college admissions process.
Watching the new nursery students settle slowly into the AIC school routine, and the older kids covering their books and preparing for another school year like old pros, we feel confident that these children are on their way to brighter futures and look forward to the day when we will be helping them explore their college options and post-graduate opportunities as well.
Thank you for your ongoing support of the AIC children and community!
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