School has just opened in India and we're delighted to share that skills for kids stories are now about to be read in 1,159 secondary government schools in Bihar. It was hot back to back journey of training teachers in 12 districts: 2,825 teachers and head teachers came for three days to read stories, learn skills and play games. We have a new graphic novel story in play this year: One world, many leaves. It's a story of Archana, a real entrepreneur from Karnataka whose leaf plate enterprise has created 85 jobs for women. The challenge for kids and teachers was to make a plate out of leaves they found where they live. The leaf plates were gorgeous (and eco-friendly super to replace plastic). We also released a new story: The riddle of the brown envelope. Exploring the concept of identifying problems as opportunities, over 120,000 children have each been given two maps, one of a village and another of a slum and the challenge it to 'connect the dots' and name as many social enterprises as you possibly can.
With your support this year we printed over 1.2 million books, a set of 15 stories for every child.
For the first time in India, 120,000 girls and boys are learning entrepreneurial skills at school.
The revolution begins with a story.
Thank you for your support.
Make an impact with a story.
Asha (name changed) a student of Grade 9 has been reading stories and learning skills at school. She has read 11 books in the Going to School class and her favourite story out of them is ‘Getting to the bottom of it’. She drew a map of her locality and identified the problems around her.
“I identified the problems in my locality through my project. I saw them around me, in the news and my elders talking about them. The gravest issues are of child marriage, female foeticide and naxal attacks. There are the everyday problems of water and electricity too in my village.”
Connecting every element that was a problem, the cause of it and how it could be solved, her project had a strong message how stories read in classrooms had so much impact on children’s minds.
Asha is reading stories every Saturday in the Going to School class and has learnt entrepreneurial skills. Her teacher, Sujit Kumar Singh says, “I am very proud of the work Going to School has been doing. The skills if incorporated properly can make the top notch of entrepreneurs from amongst these children.”
Asha Kumari goes to her school Lalpari Devi Girls High School on her pink cycle pink bicycle in and out on the bumpy lanes for four kilometers everyday. Her father works in Kolkata and her mother stays with him due to her poor health. While her parents her away, her elder sister is her guardian who is married and lives with her kids.
A proud sister, Sandhya Kumari says, “Asha has always been dedicated to her studies and also does a lot of art and crafts. We want her to excel in the field she is good at.”
She knows the objective behind the Going to School program and has helped her younger sister with identifying problems around her.
Sandhya doesn’t mind her sister going for extra classes to learn skills at school and is glad she is learning so much.
“I want her to grow up to become whatever she wishes to and I will always support my little sister in every step.”
Asha, a happy-go-lucky 14 year old says she loves her village and her home means more fun when her sister and nephews are around. However, she says, “I have the skill to identify problems and taking a risk now. I know the seriousness of the problems in my village. The schools are really far and the smaller schools do not give good education.”
Her elder sister adds, “Lack of public transportation and poor medical centers is another problem. Asha’s project made me realize these things. She is taking the right step. To solve a problem, first we need to identify its root causes.”
She believes her sister and the generation to come can make a huge impact in the development of her village if they study hard and have a comfortable living.
Asha is reading stories and learning skills to make her village develop and make it a better place to live comfortably. She has taken the first step of identifying the problems and her skills will help her solve them ahead. Meanwhile, one story at a time, Kiran is learning great entrepreneurial skills which are already developing a hero entrepreneur in her.
It's been a marvellous year and we wanted to thank you for your incredible support.
For the past year, Be! Schools has been working in 871 secondary government schools in Bihar. Every week, 87,100 children have read stories to learn skills, they have played skills games in the classroom and gone adventuring into their communities to create skills action projects. Children have created children's newspapers about entrepreneurs, and we collected them, and read each one. We noticed for the first time this year that a number of women entrepreneurs featured in children's news. This is a very good change. Usually girls and boys can only find men entrepreneurs because those are the only people working or taking a risk. But there's been a change, this year girls found women who work, and they told us they were heroes. Girls found a woman entrepreneur who makes wedding band toys out of clay with gold paint and sparkles, another little girl discovered her grandmother used to melt orange sweets and then make orange ice-cream, she even sold it from her bicycle.
So the good news at the end of 2013 is that entrepreneurs are everywhere, and there's been a change for the better in Bihar, slowly but surely, more women entrepreneurs are appearing everywhere we look.
Please do watch the movie to see girls on the move learning skills in India.
With our best wishes for the holidays!
Going to School.
In frosty January, Rastriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) Bihar is running book fairs in 38 districts across Bihar in school grounds.The Going to School team in Bihar thought it would be right to show all of our books from the past 10 years, so Going to School in India, Girl Stars and Be! Books were shown to children in nine districts. We decided to not just show the books but to make it interactive, so children were given chart papers to complete their entrepreneurial skills projects. Some children sat on the mats reading books in the cold for three hours because they liked the stories so much. Every child that completed a project won a hero badge. Exceptional kids and projects took home skills backpacks.
What’s happening in Be! Schools in Bihar
We’ve trained teachers, books are delivered to schools, children are learning a skill every week, they are creating stunning skills projects & winning hero badges for excellence!
Going to School’s second academic year in Bihar began with reaching our first milestone: we completed teacher training sessions across nine districts (Patna, Gaya, Nalanda, Bhojpur, Siwan, Saran, West Champaran, East Champaran and Vaishali) by July 2013, so all teachers were trained before the school year began. This meant that Be! Schools could begin in the first weeks of school reopening after the summer holidays.trained before the school year began.
Number of schools in the program 871
Number of teachers trained 1,742
Number of head teachers (Principals) trained 632
Total number of teachers trained 2,372
In 2013-14, 87,000 children will read 21 design-driven skills stories and create projects over the weekend, for one academic year in Bihar, India. After the first year, we received excellent insight from teachers, children and trainers about what needed to change in our stories, projects and teacher training. In response, we made our stories shorter so that they could be read in a two hour session, we re-wrote children’s activities so each step was clear and we included local stories in the skills books, for instance, in My Family Tree, a child told us that his grandfather taught local young people martial arts so they would learn about focus and perhaps stop causing trouble. You’ll see new stories within our first generation stories this year, and six new skills stories have been introduced to the program. We changed the order of the skills, to move from simple to more challenging and, we published the best children’s art projects from last year in the stories to encourage children this year to do even better. Teachers and our team were keen that children should receive recognition for their projects, so we developed 16 iconic skills badges that five children in every school can win each week for exceptional projects that show they learned the skill. Once children have collected five badges, we’ve delivered Skills Hero Backpacks for ‘super skills heroes’. And for the best performing teachers, we built and delivered on Teacher’s Day, 12 Little Free Libraries for the 12 highest performing teachers from last year. Be! Books will now be housed in classrooms, and without locks on the door, available for children at anytime they’d like to read the stories.
We’re into our second year with our partnership with the Government of Bihar and we’re excited about the extension of our MOU until 2017 to complete a five year commitment. As we understood the way the Government school system functions, we decided to experiment with technology that would help us monitor and evaluate our programme, equipping each of our team members with a mobile phone to log the number of projects completed by children every time they visit a school. This has proved to be exceptional in terms of on-time monitoring and we’re able to take swift action reporting to Government about schools’ progress or the need to encourage teachers to work just that little bit harder. Addressing how the program can be sustained within the Government system, we are exploring associations between our skills content and the mainstream curriculum and continue to meet and plan with the Government as to how this program can be taken to scale, and sustained within the system. With so many developments to our programme, we are excited to see our plans, ideas and efforts in action and continue to understand the impact of our new approaches. To crystallise and communicate what we know, we have brought together an in-house qualitative research team who constantly evaluates children’s skills projects, the skills they learn, efficacy of our content and games, and based on what they’re learning, develop new skills content and share public skills reports. The academic year for 2013 has started so well, yet we know, there is still so much more to do.
“Every child has talent. I know its hidden inside of them. But how do I tap each child’s
potential? I tried, but I just couldn’t seem to make it happen. Now, through Be! Stories I’ve found a way to help children discover the skills hidden inside of them.”
Prerna Kumari, teacher, Be! Schools, Sarvodaya High School, Nalanda District, Bihar
Teachers began the Be! programme in their classrooms in July. Over the last three months most of the participating schools completed reading the first six books and playing their skill activities. One school in Siwan distract completed reading 10 books! Here is a look at some of the skills projects that our field officers have been grading.
Julie Kumari of D.P. Rai Higher Secondary School in Nalanda made this adorable social network chart on a page from her notebook. All she had was one black colour pen and her imagination and creativity ran wild. She included her family, her friends and neighbours and even what looked like her dog in her expanding social network. We don’t ask for big chart papers and sketch pens. Understanding of the skill and creativity to communicate that understanding is a full score.
This neatly made Family Tree project is by Abhishikha Sarshaf of Raj Sampochit Kanya Uchh Vidyalaya, Betiya. She has written that her father is a driver who started his work out of sheer necessity to earn for his family. However, he does not enjoy his work
because he does not get any free time to spend with his family.
Anita Kumari from Raj Sampochit Kanya Uchh Vidyalaya, Betiya created a masterpiece without colours. Using only pencil, she shaded a beautiful family tree with each family member flowing into a branch. She has written about her hero, her uncle who sells fruit on a pushcart to support his family.
Kiran Kumari from Raj Sampochit Kanya Uchh Vidyalaya, Betiya, went into the details of every leaf of her family tree. She wrote about her father who is a electricity meter-reader. He enjoys his work because he gets to visit people in their houses, meet different kinds of people and make new friends.
Naveen Kumar showed that girls were not alone when it came to producing project masterpeices. He created an intricate border for his project with a pen, and added beautiful artwork, parrots and flowers to his super family tree.
Last year we received outstanding skills projects from children in Bihar. We did not expect such beautiful work – understanding of skills, their application and their presentation. This year we decided to reward not only the best performing children from last year, but also introduce immediate rewards so kids knew they had done really well. We began with Hero Badges. 16 iconic designed collectable badges. The children with the best project after completing each skills activity will receive the Hero Badge for that book. Once each child has collected five Hero Badges they will receive a red or purple hero backpack. But the ‘prettiest of them all’ are Little Free Libraries – beautiful handmade structures, with no locks, made from old wood by carpenters in villages in Uttar Pradesh. The Little Free Libraries was given to 12 best performing teachers from last year on Teachers’ Day. The libraries will be kept in classrooms and the books inside them will be easily accessible by all children.
The Little Free Library movie on You Tube :
The girls of Dhaneshwari Girls Highr School in Patna couldn’t wait to stack up their old and new books inside their Little Library.
16 HERO Badges - one for each book. You have slippers and cows, pickle labels and maps. They’re amazing. You collect 10 and do you know what happens then? You get a smart back-pack to pin your colourful badges on to your bag!
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