Mumbai's education non-profits need expertise

 
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Sep 25, 2014

When children learn how to question!

research questions made by students
research questions made by students

It took us, Atma volunteers, some time to locate the municipal school in Mumbai in which our partner organization Apni Shala was to conduct a workshop on life skills for children. And finally when we did locate it, we had to pass a garbage dump and carefully jump over an open sewage.

Founded by Amrita, Anukriti and Swetha, Mumbai-based education non-profit Apni Shala ‘leverages the power of stories, drama, games and art in schools to engage children in social and emotional learning’. And this is why Apni Shala is one of the 13 organizations currently enrolled into Atma’s Accelerator Program - it has a unique concept and it makes a huge difference in these lives! The founders, all young and bright women, could have done anything else, yet they chose to do something that adds value to the society they live in.

As soon as the children saw Amrita and Swetha, the co-founders of Apni Shala, they brightened up. It appeared that the children looked forward to this class. And why not? Students were encouraged to ask anything they wanted without being judged. Also, there were several fun exercises for children to loosen up – singing, dancing, drawing and collaborating to work together on specially designed tasks. But what was most interesting was that children were actually opening up, being themselves, sharing their doubts and learning how to communicate. 

Amrita had been teaching children about how to frame research questions and to think scientifically through her many workshops. The discussion that day was fun in many ways. But also gave an insight into the minds of children and know what bothers them about the society. Apni Shala has been conducting these sessions for several weeks in municipal schools and it has helped many children.

Soon after our visit to their workshop, we heard from Swetha, one of the founders of Apni Shala. She had got back to us with a set of ‘research questions’ which children, aged 6-12 years, had framed in their mother tongue Marathi. It was a fascinating list!  

Here are few translated in English.

(1)  Why can’t we see air?

(2)  Why does it rain?

(3)  Why do people leave water taps open?

(4)  What creates traffic?

(5)  How were verbal abuses/profanities created?

(6)  Why do women get raped?

(7)  Why do humans drink alchocol?

(8)  Why do people throw garbage in a gutter?

(9)  Why do human beings remove trees?

(10) What came first – chicken or egg?

Atma’s Accelerator program has been providing expertise to Apni Shala for the last one year. In one year, it has become a non-profit which has hired three new staff members and was able to fundraise on its own. Apni Shala is much clearer about its vision, mission and work culture that it must adopt so that it influences even more children and local schools.

Atma, as a non-profit, provides expertise to education non-profits that promise innovation and on-ground impact, and Apni Shala encompasses the values and dedication we look for in an education non-profit. For us, only one thing matters – quality education for all.

Apni Shala Co-Founder, Amrita with children
Apni Shala Co-Founder, Amrita with children
Children are made to play games to open up
Children are made to play games to open up
Children encouraged to speak their minds
Children encouraged to speak their minds
Children collaborate on a task
Children collaborate on a task

Links:

Jun 27, 2014

Atma Quarterly Update- June 2014

Atma
Atma 's growing portfolio

Breaking Ground

Transforming the way education is delivered in India has been Atma's long-standing aspiration. With the addition of new organisations to our portfolio we find ourselves closer to this dream than ever before. While Adhyayan works closely with school leadership to change the way learning occurs in schools, St.Willibrord offers international level schooling to children from marginalised communities on the outskirts of Mumbai.

We are excited to see how this year unfolds for our ground breaking education non-profits and social enterprises!

Making History!

Mimaansa, a pioneering non-profit for learning-disabled students has received a grant from the Bombay Community Public Trust, to expand their remedial education program to a Marathi medium municipal school in Thane.  

 "We are really excited because this expansion means growth for Mimaansa and could be a game changer for students from vernacular medium schools in the State!" ~Poojaa Joshi, Founder- Mimaansa

Towards a brighter future

Atma Portfolio organisation, Bright Future, a non-profit organisation that supports empowerment and employability of economically disadvantaged young adults has opened its doors in a new community!

Funded by Tech Mahindra, this new community centre in Kurla will deliver soft skills, vocational training and job placements to over 200 disadvantaged youth over the next year.

Mimaansa works with learning disabled students
Mimaansa works with learning disabled students
Bright Future opens a centre with Tech Mahindra
Bright Future opens a centre with Tech Mahindra

Links:

Mar 28, 2014

Atma trains community women to become teachers

Last day of English training with Ms. Sunifa
Last day of English training with Ms. Sunifa

Atma in partnership with the Canadian Government conducted training for community women to learn English and management skills to help them become more informed individuals. By helping women from low-income communities gain specific employable skills Atma increased their actual and perceived economic and social value, thereby equalizing their role in the family and community and further advancing their human rights and ability to participate in a democratic society.

Atma equipped 20 at risk young women with the required skills to become high quality community based teachers or librarians. This will help them to increase their household’s income and allow them to gain a leadership position in their families and communities. To do this Atma offered two teacher training packages that address India's most pressing learning issues: literacy and maths.

  • Hippo Campus Growby Reading Model- 10 women to be trained

 Training in this program will allow women to run simple community based libraries or gain employment with local NGOs who are administering libraries.

  • Zaya Lab Maths Tutorial Franchisees- 10 women to be trained

 The Zaya lab allows for students to receive education through technology based platforms in any environment.

  • Additionally, all 20 women will  receive the following trainings:

 English Training, and

 Entrepreneurship Training: This will allow the women to gain the knowledge and skills required to start their own community based project, such as a library or tuition classes.

 

Outcomes Achieved through this training:

  •      English Training: All the women will receive intensive 20 hours of professional training in English, which will helpto increase their confidence in speaking and increase their overall earning potential.

Outcome:  30 women received 26 hours of intensive English training from a specialised language trainer- Ms. Sunifa Gonsalvez. The training module was based on the Cambridge curriculum tailored to match the learning levels of the beneficiaries. Through her sessions, Ms. Gonsalvez worked with the girls to not only improve their spoken English skills but to also build their confidence. The training covered basics of grammar and vocabulary with an emphasis on public speaking through presentations and other speaking related activities. A comparative analysis of tests conducted before and after the training has revealed a considerable improvement in the learning levels of beneficiaries. The average test scores increased by 11% after the 1.5 months training.

 

Based on survey of beneficiaries:

o   100% of the beneficiaries feel an improvement in their English language skills

o   96% of the beneficiaries feel they are now able to communicate more confidently in English

o   16% of the beneficiaries have developed an increased interest in reading English books

 

“After attending this training, I have started speaking to everyone at home in English. I have also been able to tutor my younger brother to improve his English skills.” -Minaz Sadruddin

 

  •      Entrepreneurship Training: This is a basic training session that will be conducted by specialized instructors. The course will help the women with basic marketing and financial management techniques.

Outcome:  Atma tailored its own module to suit the needs of the young women.  Beneficiaries were introduced to basic concepts like entrepreneurship, vision and mission, target markets, demand assessment, marketing, administration, budgeting, etc. During the training the girls were assessed on their skills and interests and were made aware of potential opportunities available to them. On the second day of training, they were required to develop their own business ideas and present a detailed business plan.

 

Based on written beneficiary feedback:

  •         73% of the beneficiaries have felt an increase in their business knowledge and skills
  •         30% of the beneficiaries have more clarity about career opportunities available to them.

 

“After this entrepreneurship training, I feel that anything is possible.”- Manju Vishwakarma

 

  •      Teacher Training: Atma will be piloting two teacher training packages that address India’s most pressing learning issues: literacy and maths, and deliver essential high quality education to slum communities.

 

o      Maths Teaching (Zaya lab maths tutorial franchisees): Training will be provided for teachers in using technology enabled classrooms, including classroom set up, hardware use and software use. The training session will be two days long.

Outcome: The two day training was conducted as per the proposed schedule. The key components of this training were lesson planning, classroom management and use of technology in the classroom such as blended learning and rotational model. At the end of the training, the beneficaries were taken on a field trip to a school that uses Zaya lab kits in classrooms. As a result, they were able to observe how theory could be implemented in practice.

 

 

o      Community Library Management (Hippo Campus Growby Reading Model): Training will be provided on how to use the Growby Reading model, its tools and library set up. The Growby Reading program is easy to set up and follows book cataloguing systems. Training in this program will allow women to run simple community based libraries.

Outcome: Through this 3 day training, beneficiaries were introduced to the Hippo Campus Growby reading model and learnt how to catalogue and organise books as per difficulty levels; assess children's reading levels and conduct book based activities. On the last day of the course the trainer assessed each of the beneficiaries on  their ability to apply their learnings through a practical test followed by individual feedback sessions.

 

Based on written beneficiary feedback:

o   70% of the beneficiaries felt that they developed their professional skills as teachers

 

“I have always dreamt about being a teacher and after this course I feel I will be able to fulfill this dream.” - Gulafsha Shaikh

Ruchi conducts a two day Entrepreneurship training
Ruchi conducts a two day Entrepreneurship training
A group of women working on their business plans
A group of women working on their business plans
A group presents their business plans
A group presents their business plans
Mary presents a graduation certificate to Minaz
Mary presents a graduation certificate to Minaz
Graduation day!
Graduation day!

Links:

Jan 2, 2014

Atma snapshot in 2013

Bring in the Holiday Season with Atma !

We would also like to wish all of our supporters, friends and well-wishers Happy Holidays! See a snapshot through images - https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10151793450420740.1073741835.139172455739&type=1

We are excited to share that Atma will be launching two new projects with some of our portfolio organisations in the upcoming months!

Sustainable employment for vulnerable young women: Atma recently received a grant from the Government of Canada as part of the Canadian Fund for Local Initiatives in India. Thanks to their generous support we will be able to reach out to young women from low-income communities. In collaboration with Zaya and Sahyog, Atma will train and equip them to become high quality community based teachers and librarians. The trainings will include:

English Training

Entrepreneurship Training

Teacher Training :

  • Community Library Management (for 10 women)- participants will learn about the Hippocampus Grow by Reading Programme.
  • Maths Teaching (for 10 women)- participants will learn how to use the Zaya Lab technology including classroom set-up and teaching methodologies. 

 

Leveraging Technology for Education: Thanks to the support of our International Fundraising Chapter- Atma Netherlands, Atma has received a grant from ING Foundation as part of the ING Charity Fund for Employee. This grant will fund our project, " Leveraging Technology for Education." Through this project, Atma in collaboration with Zaya will help select portfolio organisations to integrate Zaya labs in their classrooms.  Zaya lab uses tablet devices, teachers, and peer learning to create a blended learning experience that integrates technology with the traditional teaching-learning process!

Read our latest blurb inspired by an article from ASER Centre on "When and how English should be taught in schools". - http://atma.org.in/uncategorized/the-language-of-success

Atma Soles

With the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon 2014 around the corner, all the Atma Soles have been training hard and going the extra mile to raise funds for Atma's cause of Quality education.

Says Danique Lodewijks, "I've been passionate about Atma since June 2006 when I arrived in Mumbai for the first time. Back then I had the opportunity to meet Lee and see the great work Atma is doing, the difference it makes and the passion of the people have been an inspiration ever since. I am excited to finally be able to join the Atma Marathon team and after months of training I will run the Marathon on 19th January 2014!"

You can follow Danique's marathon journey on her blog here: www.runningmumbai.tumblr.com

Join us: Do you have experience in designing and developing websites? Do you want to use your skills to help further the cause of education? If yes, then Atma is looking for You! Take this opportunity to join our fantastic cohort of volunteers. Read more here - http://atma.org.in/volunteer/volunteer-vacancies

Links:


Attachments:
Oct 17, 2013

Atma's Most Significant Stage

Atma Partner - Sahyog
Atma Partner - Sahyog

What is our impact? How has our work made a difference? Development organisations often ask themselves these questions. Over the years Atma has been assessing its work and impact through internally developed tools.  However, in a bid to dig deeper, Atma recently piloted an impact assessment tool called Most Significant Change (MSC). This process involves collecting stories of change experienced by beneficiaries through interviews or discussions.

To pilot this technique Atma chose one partner organisation -Bright Future. With the help of an external MSC consultant- Ms. Andrea Farley, Atma interviewed the various stakeholders involved in the Atma- Bright Future partnership- Bright Future founder, program director, program officer, Atma partnership manager. The stories of change collected were then evaluated by an external panel to choose the Most Significant Change story. This story represents all the changes that Atma has helped bring about in Bright Future.

Nilofer Jailor (Program Officer, Bright Future - Atma portfolio)

“I completed my M.A in psychology in 2009 and I came to NRI (Bright Future)* in 2011- Kishor selected me to work on their school program which was called Bright Future. At that point of time we had only a vague idea about what we wanted to do -something in the area of career guidance and support. We planned our program accordingly, but at that time we only did career awareness sessions with students.IMG_3081

There were no real processes or structures in place before Atma. After Atma began to work with us in July 2012 we realised the importance of processes, documentation, reporting- Atma gave us a clear direction, more structure and helped with planning. Our program is now whole and strong and aimed at well-rounded development of children.

Now we are not just working with students- but also their teachers, parents, principals and the community. We are much more focused on outcomes now- for me quality of our programs is very important- no matter how many students I work with- 500 or 900 the quality of delivery should remain the same.

I have a lot of tasks at Bright Future- conducting life skills sessions, counselling, career guidance sessions, coordinating mentor meetings, parents meeting etc. which I found difficult to manage earlier. But I have now learnt how to manage my time and tasks. I have started prioritizing my work which has helped me to cope with my workload.

All the Atma volunteers who have come to Bright Future have been wonderful- they have been very involved in not only their work but have also taken the effort to interact with our students.

Maude was one such volunteer who came to work with us. She took all of our inputs and then creatively put together a great module. In fact both- the bright future and mentoring- modules have made my life very easy.

Today we can confidently speak about our programs to schools and parents. We just got permission to work with a school called Shivaji Vidyalaya where we will be working with 180 students from 9th standard. Hopefully by the end of this year we will have added two more schools. Last week we also launched our mentorship program with 40 engineering students and 7 mentors which is a major achievement for us.

The biggest change for me personally has been the improvement in my communication skills. When Atma sent its first volunteer to us- Tom- all of us had to work on our language because he obviously could not understand Hindi. I am so thankful to Atma for this as these interactions with foreign volunteers have helped me gain my self- confidence. All the changes that Atma has brought- the monthly planning, progress reports, documentation- have brought so much more structure to Bright Future.

All of this together has brought about a change in me- I find myself becoming stronger every day. Now wherever I go I ask people- friends, family or acquaintances to engage with Bright Future- whether as mentors or through funding. I don’t hesitate to speak to anyone about us. I can now wake up from my sleep even and talk about Bright Future. This organisation is in my head, my heart and just about everywhere.”

*Bright Future was previously called New Resolution India (NRI).

IMG_3858 IMG_3992

(L-R: Nilofer with Atma Volunteer and with Bright Future student at their Independence day celebration)

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Organization

Atma

Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
http://www.atma.org.in

Project Leader

Kinjal Shah

Mumbai, Maharashtra India

Where is this project located?

Map of Mumbai's education non-profits need expertise