For many years the main problems facing Indian schools were enrolment levels and attendance, however through a combination of the institution of Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act (2010), improved access, the banning of child labour and a growing middle class the past six years have seen a consistent enrolment level of 96%+.
So if the issues of enrolment and attendance are dwindling problems, what issues face Government Schools in India in 2015? And what can GVI do to alleviate these issues and improve attainment levels?
The single biggest issue confronted by Thamaraparambu school is the number of pupils currently enrolled, twenty students spread across seven standards. The school offers fairly unique perks; free auto-rickshaw pick up from two separate slum settlements (funded by school staff), free breakfast every day (funded by GVI), Native English speakers delivering English lessons, a beautiful school environment, and a central location attached to the District Educational Authority’s headquarters meaning school staff don’t miss lessons when training or resource distribution occur. These excellent features combined with low enrolment encouraged further research into the situation.
All research quickly seemed to identify the rising proliferation of private, fee-paying schools across India, particularly here in Kerala. Across the board on all measured indicators children in government schools perform worse than their direct counterparts in private schools, this despite the fact that in government schools 85.9% of teachers have received formal training as opposed to only 43.8% of teachers in private schools and consistently earn more. So while private schools outperform government schools the need remains for a raising of standards in ‘free’ schools.
So what are GVI doing to address this gap?
In collaboration with the teachers GVI have instituted a clear and thorough English curriculum, enabling volunteers to come in and pick up directly where previous volunteers finished, preventing repetition and enabling better opportunities for monitoring and evaluation of students’ progress and continued to modernise and beautify the school environment, with development of a large-scale educational game and construction of library carts. Other commonly held causes for the ‘flight of the middle classes’ from government institutions are teacher absenteeism, indifference and/or use of corporeal punishment. Collectively with the school GVI have overseen the abolition of corporal punishment within Thamaraparambu, and through demonstration of effective teaching methodologies and good practise have begun to provoke interest and desire to develop and deliver lessons which are stimulating for both the teacher and the student.
Thank you for continuing support and helping us bridge this gap in the educational system in Kerala.
All the best.
The year is almost over and so, we all wanted to thank you for your support this year. It's been a fantastic year and this is all thanks to you. Here are some of the things we've been able to achieve this year!
These are just some examples of what we have achieved in 2014. We hope to continue more great work with your support in 2015!
Happy New Year
All the best
The last month on our new project at Thamaraparambhu School has been amazing. In line with the objectives set out for this project lessons have been meticulously planned, carried out and evaluated. A new syllabus was designed, the classrooms supplied with up to date resources and communication channels and training is being developed for the local teachers. Progress is very evidently being made, both with the students, and with the teachers.
Elsewhere in the school, one of our volunteers took it upon herself to completely redesign the playground. Though not finished yet, she and everyone involved (all of the staff team, volunteers, local teachers and students) have shown incredible enthusiasm, determination and team work, especially in the Indian heat. The walls have been completely repainted, going from a dirty yellow to a range of vibrant colours, complete with various different themes including the jungle, outer space and a tropical island. One of the walls has been covered in blackboard paint, allowing for the children to go outside to enjoy their lessons. The redesign not only offers a stimulating play experience for the teaching but encourages learning through fun: numbers, letters and interactive wall games make learning accessible for all ages. The latest development is the acquisition of a traditional Keralan fishing boat, the idea is to turn it into a sandpit for the kids to play in. The development of Thamaraparambhu school has been astounding, considering how different it was when we first arrived almost two months ago. We are now looking forward to the initiation of our community outreach and training programme here that will link in with our women’s empowerment and vocation training projects that are now up and running. What an exciting month!
Due to recent donations and support, we have been able to offer more assistance to Auxillum School in Kochi. Auxilium English Medium School ISCE serves children from KG to 9th standard.
Whilst primary education is free in India, there simply is not enough space in government schools to provide a decent education for all children. In the extended metropolitan area of Kochi, where we work, the population is 2.3million. It is difficult to work out how many children are in the area, as per the last census in 2011, only children up to the age of 6 were counted. Up to the age of 6 alone, there were 190,000 children in the area.
However, there are only 34 government schools in the area, meaning there could be over 5,500 students per primary school. As such, many families send their children to private-aided and unaided schools to give them a better quality of education.
At Auxilium, the school does its hardest to keep school fees as low as possible. They focus on trying to provide better teachers and smaller numbers in the classrooms. This does mean that the school is short of funds to run. As such, recent donations have helped to kit out the school hall to enhance teaching experiences for all years. A projector screen was installed to help the students to study online classes & also make presentations clearly. We also installed a podium and amplifier so the school can host functions and gatherings. This will enhance lessons and presentations done in the hall but also allows the school hall to be booked for external functions to bring in some much needed funds.
With the left donations, we assisted with tuition fees for 25 children, where it was well known to the school that their parents were finding it very difficult to make both ends meet and may have had to pull their children from the school. It has been a big relief for them that their children will get knowledge without the financial constraints.
None of this could be possible without your support. We are looking to continue offer these tuition fee scholarships as well as more services and features to support local schools in the area trying to offer children a decent education.
Thank you again
Through our healthcare projects, we aim to better the lives of children facing various difficulties in the communities we work in. Our donors and supporters enable this through their support and sometimes, things come together in such a way that a group of people from one side of the world can positively change the life for someone elsewhere.
One such child is 14 year old Nikhil, a student attending Cottolengo Special Needs School in Fort Kochi, Kerala, India. Nikhil has advanced Cerebral Palsy and is currently facing many challenges. He is physically handicapped and has extreme difficulty moving from one place to another. Nikhil was being placed in an improvised plastic chair with the legs cut short, crudely attached to a metal frame that sits on two mis-matched tyres. Nikhil has extremely limited muscle control, and as a result was constantly falling or slipping out of his chair. He needs constant supervision to be readjusted and pulled into an upright position to remain even slightly secured. In terms of safety, the chair presents many problems & makes his posture extremely harmful to his neck & spine which is critical to anyone suffering from Nikhil's condition.
On the other side of the world, a group of people came together to fundraise for Nikhil, in memory of their beloved friend and daughter who tragically passed away far too young and had volunteered in India with Nikhil. Their funds along with the support of the Charitable Trust enabled us to buy a proper wheelchair for Nikhil.
The Cottolengo Sisters made a good effort to visit the orthopaedist for Nikhil, got a consultation for the new wheelchair with specifications immediately after receiving the funds. They went in a van with the help of 2 drivers. Now the modern wheelchair with a chest belt and foot-rest, makes him conveniently settled & he is happy with smiles. He has a plastic table to have food as well. A fully functioning wheelchair has now improved Nikhil's personal comfort, health and safety in numerous ways. It perks up his spinal and neck support, scheduled physiotherapy, enhanced transportation around the school, enabled pressure area care, and greatly increased hygiene levels. Feeding has become easier, as Nikhil is better supported with his upgraded modern wheelchair. The long term impact of Nikhil who obtained a new wheelchair is undoubtedly & overwhelmingly a positive gesture to this poor boy.
Thank you for supporting this project.
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