Jun 26, 2019

Support a Rural School in the Himalayas - Updates

Introduction

Aarohi Bal Sansar (ABS) has made accessible quality education to the children from marginalized families, making it possible for these families to live in their own region and not migrate to bigger towns or cities for better education for their children. 

School Performance

In the academic year 2018-19, 162 children from 11 villages (Chapad, Kafuda, Simayal,Diyari, Kumati, Chataula, Satkhol, Peora, Sund, Satoli, Nigran) were part of ABS out of which  85 were boys and 77 were girls.  

The school remained open for 257 days for teachers and 231 days for students. There was 88% student attendance and 77% teachers’ attendance, this year. Teachers’ attendance was low because 11 ABS teachers had enrolled for mandatory D.El.Ed and bridge course this year.

The school has 15 teachers, of these 9 teachers specialise in STEM subjects, 8 in languages and 2 in social sciences. There is one teacher each for Art and Crafts, Music, Sports and Computer respectively. The student-teacher ratio this year has been 1:11. Eleven Aarohi Bal Sansar teachers successfully completed D.El.Ed and bridge course.

Academic Performance of ABS Students

ABS holds half-yearly and annual exams for classes 1 to 8 to assess their academic performance. The exams are both written and oral. Child’s overall performance is assessed through the child’s participation in various co-curricular, extracurricular and sports activities.

Co-Curricular and sports activities

The ‘School Farm Project’ was initiated this year as part of the project ‘Contextualising Rural Education to Agriculture and Ecology’. A greenhouse has been constructed based on a model made by the students of ABS. Two compost pits have been made on school premises. Children collected indigenous varieties of seeds to be propagated in the school nursery with the help of their parents. Preliminary attempts were made to connect language learning with farming. Children learnt Kumaoni, Hindi and English words for farm tools, farm techniques and local vegetables. This allowed the parents to participate in their child’s education since they could connect learning goals with their everyday life of farmers.

Hindustani classical music is being taught at Aarohi Bal Sansar, grooming further the innate talent of the children from the region in singing and dancing. Currently it’s a month-long programme orienting children to music in a more structured way.

A film club introducing students to the best of international cinema, sensitizing them not only to different cultures but also to the art of cinema, was initiated this year. Films such as God’s must be Crazy, Bicycle Thief (Italian film), Songs of Sparrow (Iranian film), The way home (Korean film) were screened through this film club. Swiss Films on Wheels, an initiative by the Swiss Embassy screened ‘Heidi’, a film based on a book by Swiss author Johanna Spyri.

Students of class eight experienced the production of a feature film, to know the science and the art of film making. They interacted with film director, cinematographer, sound designer and art designer of the feature film, 'Limited Story', which was shot in the area. Students could experience the real-life application of what they study in their classrooms.

A day-long visit was organized to the Army Training Center, Ranikhet. Students got a glimpse of rigorous training a soldier from the armed forces goes through. A visit to an all religion site at the training centre with a gurudwara, a mosque, a temple and a church led to a discussion on the concept of secularism and unity in diversity. 

A two-day workshop was organized by London based organization 'Timeless Lifeskills’ on creative thinking, logical and analytical thinking. Using the medium of robotics and animation the children were introduced to various approaches to problem-solving.

A model based on mathematical calculations with which one can tell anyone’s age was developed by ABS students during the Mathematics fair. The fair was organized to demystify mathematics and know its application in everyday life. Students exhibited various models based on mathematical calculations.

Mini sports day for the little champs from pre-primary was held on 27th December 2018. Annual sports day for the students from the primary and upper primary was held on 31st December 2018.

Aarohi Bal Sansar students participated in various sports events at Panchayat, block and State level. ABS team won the Kabaddi and Kho-Kho matches at the district level. Chitra, Sakshi and Ishika from class 8 and 7 were selected at the state level. Girish Kumar, a student of the class of ABS won the district level 100-meter race. He represented the block at state level athletics. ABS girl’s Kabaddi team secured second place at the district level and two of them were selected of the state level Kabaddi team.

Teacher’s Training and Exposure

Aarohi Bal Sansar teachers received training in project based learning and contextualized teaching. A two-day workshop was held at Madhuban, in Ramgarh, on project based learning. Through various projects, teachers were oriented to teaching methodology with an emphasis on learning by doing.

As part of their annual exposure visit, the teachers visited field area of ‘Eklavya’, a Bhopal based NGO doing pioneering work in the area of education. It exposed the teachers of ABS to various approaches to rural education and innovative educational programmes designed by Eklavya.

The principal of Aarohi Bal Sansar attended a workshop organized by Avishkar, an NGO from Himachal Pradesh, on current education policies and its impact of education.

 

Support us by donating on the Global Giving link: http://www.globalgiving.org/projects/aarohi-bal-sansar/      

Sep 10, 2018

Creating Opportunities for Better Education

 BACKGROUND

Upholding the vision of holistic personality development in a joyful environment, Aarohi Bal Sansar(ABS), a middle-level school, was started in the year 1994. ABS is a vibrant learning space which is sensitively designed, nurturing children through quality education using the appropriate curriculum, creative teaching methodologies and sufficient infrastructural resources. ABS today is a model school, providing education which is sensitive to the changing aspirations of the people from the rural and remote parts of the Kumaon hills in Uttarakhand,  Northern India.  

SUMMARY

Starting with the visit by the members of Aarohi Schweiz, in January, the new year at ABS began with a colourful cultural event presented by the children of Aarohi Bal Sansar.  Honing their skills in folk dance and music, through this event, the children were also introduced to the folk dance from the Alps.

Rising from one-month long winter hibernation, ABS once again got into action in February, with the beginning of the summer session. Keeping low on co-curricular activities, these months were more about revising and preparing for the annual exams. 

Sandeep Marmi, the Principal of ABS resigned from his position as the principal ABS, in April 2018. Brijesh Kumar, a young and an enthusiastic education profession with seven years of intensive work experience with Pratham (a premier NGO spearheading the quality education in India), joined in as the new principal at Aarohi Bal Sansar.

With the aim of making education relevant to the children from the rural mountain communities, we started our efforts to contextualise the national curriculum framework to the rural mountain realities. We initiated the School Farm Project and with the help of a volunteer, Nischal introduced the concept of contextualising of education to the teachers. The aim is to connect the learning goals as defined by the National Curriculum Framework of India to the aspects of farming and ecology. Teachers were also sent for training on ‘project-based learning approach’.

Considering the transition at the senior leadership level, in Aarohi, including the school, it will take some time to bring in that much-needed stability prerequisite for growth. We are slowly moving in the direction, sailing through these times of transition and uncertainty.

 

 PROGRAMME OVERVIEW

 This year we have 167 students from 14 villages.  Thirty-one new students joined ABS in this term.  Of the total students, 85 are girls and 82 are boys.

We continue maintaining a healthy student-teacher ratio of 9:1.  There are 18 teachers, with 2 teachers for the pre-primary section and 16 teachers teaching in the primary and the upper primary sections.

ABS has a beautiful combination of academics as well as co-curricular activities. Arts, Crafts, Music, sports are given equal importance along with the academics. Life skill programme further prepares them for the challenges of the modern world.  

 

  Academic Performance – Annual Exams

 Students in classes 1 to 5 are performing well in languages (English and Hindi.  49% of students from classes 1 to 5 scored above 80% (A Grade) in Hindi, with 43% scoring above 80% in English. In Mathematics 24% of the students scored above 80%.  Majority of the students in these classes fall in grades B and C ( between 50% to 79% ), which is average to good performance.

 

Academic performance of students in classes 6 to 8 in Yearly Exams

On an average, 13% students have scored above 80% in Hindi, English, Mathematics and  Science in classes 6 to 8. While the majority of the students fall in B, C and D grades (50% to 79%), the number of those performing below 50% of marks in these classes is also considerably high. 

33% of the students have scored less than 50% of marks in English and almost 31% and 29% of the students have scored less than 50% in Maths and Science. The students seem to be performing better in Hindi with only 12% students scoring less than 50% in this subject.

While systematic efforts are being made to reduce the variance between high performing and low performing students, bridging this gap in the higher classes has always remained a constant challenge. 

 

CO-CURRICULAR AND EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES

Maths Workshop/ Fair

Maths Workshop was organized for the students of 6th, 7th and 8th classes from  May 30 to June 2, 2118.

In this workshop, students formed groups and prepared Mathematics Models around the concepts referred to in their textbooks. After designing their models, students discussed the concepts in groups and presented their models to the entire group.

On June 2, the students organized a Bal Ganit Mela on ABS campus. The fair was visited by students of classes 3rd, 4th and 5th, all the teachers and the staff of Aarohi. A major learning for everyone from the Mela was that Mathematics is everywhere.

The models titled as ‘Aao Bazar Lagayen’( lets set up a market),  ‘Khelen Jee Bharke’ (Lets play), ‘Ham Aapki Umar Bata Sakate Hain’ (We can tell your age) and ‘Har Mod Par Nayi Kahani Kagaj Ki Jubani’(a new story on every turn) were set up which were received very well by all. .

 

CAREER COUNSELING SESSION

Aarohi conducted a career counselling session on June 14,  for a group of about 115 students in Peoda Inter College. While most of the attendees were the current 12-grade students of the college, there were a few students who graduated from the school last year. The session lasted for about 2 hours.

The session was anchored and delivered by Nischal, Archana, Neha and Brijesh. Nischal started with a presentation on various categories of skills – Language Skills, People Skills, Logic Skills, Design Skills and Body Skills. The focus was on helping students reflect on, understand and explore their own strengths and interests. Various job opportunities available for each of the skills were discussed. Later, Archana dwelled into Entrepreneurship as a possible career option. She exhorted students to consider problems around them as opportunities and explained to them what makes a successful entrepreneur.

In the second half of the session, counsellors took questions from students and dived into the specific career options available for specific interest areas. In the end, students were given numbers to reach out to Aarohi in case they needed any further information.

 

 SCHOOL FARM PROJECT

School Farm Project was initiated in this term with the aim of contextualising education to farming and ecology to make education relevant for the students from the rural areas. The levelling of the land (20 ft x 30 ft) is complete. A compost pit of length 15 ft, breadth 6 ft and depth 1.5 ft has been dug entirely by the students. Compost required for the plants in the greenhouse will be created in this pit. The design of the greenhouse is also complete. Tools for the project were purchased in the middle of the May.

  Apart from contributing to the construction work of the greenhouse, students were shown the design of the greenhouse and they built a model replica using it. Through the process,  the children learnt about dimensions and measurements. Students were also taught the English names of the tools and their uses. Tools were then labelled in English. They also have been taught about the budget estimation.

6th-grade students did a survey in their villages to figure out which vegetables could be grown in which months and to find out how long would they take to grow. Then students collected seeds and put them in pits filled with compost. The pots were also labelled.

Students have been divided into teams and each team is made responsible for recording various details of the project. They are taught how to use Excel and PPT to enter data and make presentations. By the end of the project, students would be making a presentation.

 

 A VISIT TO ARMY TRAINING CENTER – RANIKHET

On 9th June 2018, 16 students of 8th grade were taken for a visit to the army training centre in Ranikhet. Students were taken through the entire training centre and explained how the soldiers are trained for recruitment in the Army.  Students also saw the war memorial, gymnasium, drill, firing, and trap setting. Later, students were taken to a bunker and detailed about the ways in which soldiers fight from them.

They also saw the museum exhibiting the photographs, weapons and uniforms of the deceased soldiers. They then visited the all religion site.

 

PERSONNEL

We were joined by Brijesh Kumar as the new Principal of ABS on 1st May 2018. He has with him seven years of experience of working with Pratham, a premier organisation revolutionising education in India. Passionate about teaching, Brijesh has interesting ways of teaching Mathematics, which we hope will contribute immensely to the academic performance of our students in Mathematics.    

 

CONCLUSION

Owing to the succession plan, there has been constant change at the senior leadership in the school and at the organisational level. While we are trying our best to cope with this transition, it is difficult to sustain any long-term plan unless we achieve a certain level of stability.

Knowing the growing variance in urban and rural learning we now want to work towards making the curriculum relevant to the rural children from the mountains by contextualising it to their immediate environment and realities.

Investing in teacher resource is extremely important to maintain the quality of education, reduce attrition and motivating teachers. Our teachers are as qualified as any government teacher and far more motivated to teach. Their salaries, however, are less than half of what the government teachers who are mostly absent from duty, draw. Sourcing institutional funding for salaries is getting difficult by the day. This year we would like to encourage individual donors to adopt one ABS teacher as a patron and mentor, at least for a year.

Sep 4, 2018

Contextualizing Education

 BACKGROUND

Upholding the vision of holistic personality development in a joyful environment, Aarohi Bal Sansar(ABS), a middle-level school, was started in the year 1994. ABS is a vibrant learning space which is sensitively designed, nurturing children through quality education using an appropriate curriculum, creative teaching methodologies and sufficient infrastructural resources. ABS today is a model school, providing education which is sensitive to the changing aspirations of the people from the rural and remote parts of the Kumaon hills in Uttarakhand,  Northern India.  

SUMMARY

Basic education is a critical part of rural development, devoid of which one cannot expect to bridge the rural-urban divide. The Indian National Curriculum Framework is designed for the masses and unless contextualised to the local and rural realities cannot be relevant for large population constituting the rural India. 

In a country as vast and as diverse as India can a standard national curriculum framework be sufficient? The rural-urban learning variance is ever increasing, with a bulk of the so-called educated mass we are churning out every year being unemployable, unskilled and unadoptable. They are misfits in the true sense of the word where they often lack even the basic skills for survival. Rural children struggle with a syllabus they cannot relate to. Their context, their realties and point of references are much different than that of their urban counter parts. The medium of instruction is in a language which is not their mother tongue.

The contextualisation of teaching and learning using immediate environmental experiences of the children offers encouraging options to make education more relevant for the rural children. Natural resource management practices can be used as media for contextualisation and enable learners to cope more effectively with the general subject matter, whilst contributing to the skills formation process at the same time. Examples from different parts of the world show that teachers can use natural resources as a learning aid in various subjects and topics as this provides real life examples from the local environment and gives a practical touch to theory.

Agriculture is the most important aspect of rural life. Using agricultural and natural resources as a medium for contextualising the curriculum could, therefore, provide an avenue through which children can have repeated experiences to develop their cognitive, physical and social skills.

PROGRAMME OVERVIEW

 This year we have 167 students from 14 villages.  Thirty-one new students joined ABS in this term.  Of the total students 85 are girls and 82 are boys.

We continue maintaining a healthy student-teacher ratio of 9:1.  There are 18 teachers, with 2 teachers for the pre-primary section and 16 teachers teaching in the primary and the upper primary sections.

ABS has a beautiful combination of academics as well as co-curricular activities. Arts, Crafts, Music, sports are given equal importance along with the academics. Life skill programme further prepares them for the challenges of the modern world.  

SCHOOL FARM PROJECT

School Farm Project was initiated in this term with the aim of contextualising education to farming and ecology to make education relevant for the students from the rural areas. The levelling of the land (20 ft x 30 ft) is complete. A compost pit of length 15 ft, breadth 6 ft and depth 1.5 ft has been dug entirely by the students. Compost required for the plants in the greenhouse will be created in this pit. The design of the greenhouse is also complete. Tools for the project were purchased in the middle of the May.

 Apart from contributing to the construction work of the greenhouse, students were shown the design of the greenhouse and they built a model replica using it. Through the process,  the children learnt about dimensions and measurements. Students were also taught the English names of the tools and their uses. Tools were then labelled in English. They also have been taught about the budget estimation.

6th-grade students did a survey in their villages to figure out which vegetables could be grown in which months and to find out how long would they take to grow. Then students collected seeds and put them in pits filled with compost. The pots were also labeled.

Students have been divided into teams and each team is made responsible for recording various details of the project. They are taught how to use Excel and PPT to enter data and make presentations. By the end of the project, students would be making a presentation.

Funds are required for the construction of the green house. 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 
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