Going to School Fund

Going to School creates design-driven stories to teach India's poorest children skills at school. We're an award-winning nonprofit trust with a 10-year track record of inspiring millions of children in India to stay in school, learn skills, use their education to transform their lives and create their own opportunities. Our journey began in 2003 when we created Going to School in India, a children's book that tells 25 stories of what school can be, from going to school in a tent in a desert to going to school in the dark with solar lanterns. We made the book into a pioneering TV series that aired on India's leading television networks reaching 65 million children. Our next se...
Mar 15, 2016

A letter

Sudha is 15 and she goes to school in Bihar, she wrote a letter to her brother Ravi, to tell him about how a story inspired her to start a school under a tree for other children. Dear Ravi, I hope you are studying well. I am waiting for you to come back and teach me how to use a computer. Can I learn how to use one even if we don't have one? Yesterday, our teacher read a very moving story about a girl named Mishti called My Second Hand Shoes. Not everyone owns shoes. Some people are rich and they buy a new pair after wearing a pair for a few days. After reading the story, I decided that I wanted to help children just like Mishti. I don't know who Mishti is. I don't know if I will get to meet her. But I want to do something for people. But what? Just like how you have gone to Punjab to learn computer skills, I am learning new skills at school too - how to do something well, how to identify something you have a passion/talent for and how to do things on time. My skill is to teach children. Our teacher, Rajeev, is very encouraging. He asked us to make something new out of old, unused materials. He gave several examples in class. But I wasn't able to come up with something original. What is old that can be used again? And how can it be used to help people? Then I connected the dots and discovered what I must do for my project! 'I get immense pleasure in teaching kids. If I teach children who are unable to go to school in our village or children who do not get good education in the schools they already go to, then that is an art. That means creating something new with children. This is such a great opportunity! At first, I just wrote down my idea and submitted it to my teacher, but then I decided to make it real. I called 10 children - the youngest one is 6, the oldest is 11.' After my board exams, I will build a room near our house and the fields which will be used to teach kids at a fixed time, and the classes will be more regular. Wouldn't that be a beautiful place to study? That would be just like my dream school. My dream school would be in our village, amidst the orchards and fields. Children would study, in the middle of magical natural beauty. Gardens, orchards, rivers, ponds and pools would surround the place. When they study geography or about plants, they will understand better looking at the green. It will cost Rs 50,000 to build the room. Father says he will get the room built for me. He is very proud of me. He says that there is no value of money these days. One person has it today, another will have it tomorrow. So my school will be a free school. He says that if my students become SP or DM in the future, he will be very happy. I want to make him happy. With the money that Pita ji gives me, I will buy pens and notebooks for other kids as well. Some people use a few pages and throw their notebooks in the garbage or sell them to the thelawaalas (recycling). When the thela crosses our house, I pick the ones that have only a few used pages. I can save these for my students. Right now, I use these notebooks to do my rough work after coaching classes. I have to study hard and do well in my exams. Since I want to become a teacher when I grow up, I keep asking questions to my teachers right now in order to plan ahead. You always teach me to plan ahead. I will work hard and when I do that Mum and Dad will be willing to teach me further. Looking at me, other people in the village will also encourage their children to study. I will work hard and become an Udyami (entrepreneur) in the future. Do you know what an 'Udyami' is? An Udyami is (defined as) a business person in text books. According to the Hindi meaning, 'Udyami' is 'hard-working' like farmers or labourers. But I believe that an 'Udyami' is someone who has courage, they don't think whether a task entails profit or loss, they do it fearlessly, anyway. And then they are also able to face the outcome.' I believe that the universe is made of opposites. There is night because there is day. Happiness is followed by sorrow. Similarly, initially in any big task, there will be losses, however, later on good things will come too. No one has to lead a life without education. No one must be illiterate. Girls, who can't go far to study, can come to my home, my school. The next time you visit home, you can take a computer class with my students! Though, right now, I am focussing on teaching alphabets. But they will get there. Lots of love (Wish me luck for my board exams), Sudha

Dec 16, 2015

Gaming for change

It's the end of the year and we're still going. We created three digital games to teach kids entrepreneurial skills at school and we realised that while content is imperative, it's not just about content. As we visited a selection of the 1,500 high schools we work in, in Bihar, India - we discovered that making great games for kids was not enough. The computer rooms where we wanted to install these games were locked. Or, there was no computer teacher. Or, there was no electricity or the key to the generator was missing in action. So while technology is wonderful, where we work in India, it's still going to mean 100 people need to go there, turn up every day to a different school with 100 tablets. Hardware + software :) And that's just what the intrepid team has been doing. It's cold, frosty, misty (not to mention, Patna is the seocnd most pollluted city after Delhi, which is the world's number one). Sometimes the fog is so thick you can't see your hand in front of your face. But still, in this, there are children going to school and teachers too, and when we've made it with our games, we've had as many as 140 kids playing at one time. What are these games? Maya and the Storm. Maya and the Night. Maya and the Banyan. Maya is a naughty, curious girl in jeans and checked shirt who is trying to manage her time to protect her village before the storm hits. Then, she's building all different kinds of renewable energy to get lights back on where she lives. And Maya and the Banyan - well, you'll have to visit the all play stores in 2016 to be able to download and play it. It's a lot of fun.

We know this is working because we ask our teams to take selfies in front of the school. We then get to GPS tag the school and kids game scores get uploaded to the server.

Our lesson of 2016: digital games are great for kids, but it still takes the human interface of turning up each day to ensure kids get a chance to play.

Game on Going to School Bihar, we're very proud.

2016 we aim to have 100,000 kids gaming. Stay tuned and thanks for your support this year!

Going to School.

Sep 22, 2015

Design-thinking with kids in India

Design-thinking is a wonderful set of words. It's human-centered design, designing with and for kids, so that it reaches them, so that when the story arrives, it connects with their emotions, their potential, their innate ability to change their lives and the world around them. We've been design-thinking since 2003 when Going to School in India began. We just didn't know it had a name. 2015 has been a year of completely creating anew. We received a report on our teacher training that said it was good, but could we do better? We responded to the challenge by doing what we know best - we created all new stories. With teachers as customers, creators, co-creators and collaborators we dropped the words 'teacher-training' and found a new voice: The Sound & Light Show. As you read this, this show has been on the road, to 10 districts in Bihar, India, sometimes playing in four locations at one time. It's a three-screen adventure, three laptops, movies and images surrounding you - screens made of bamboo and white cotton (our Indian invention at work - it was too expensive to buy and move ready made screens). We did this in 5 weeks - the redesign that is, and it's been playing now for 10 weeks. And the good news is very good. We've had 100% attendance from teachers in far-flung districts, words have spread like wild fire from teacher to teacher: there are movies, there's music, leaf plates serve lunch, feedback after every session and a chance to teach, to re-create and co-create. We've never had 100% attendance. I think we'll call this this Sound & Light show from now on.

 

Then, as the show makes it's way through Bihar and Jharkhand, the Delhi teams have been creating new skills stories. We have our all-star stories that teachers and kids love: Bijali brings the carnival to her village, Seher's Bolt of Lightening business, My Secondhand shoes. We're thankful they are all-star-stories. But even those things we love we have to remake a new - so new kids and new teachers recognize stories that reflect their lives in this changing world in which we live. There are six new stories. Kids can now open bank accounts in India - so there's a story about how to make that happen. A second story about a young woman with a bicycle repair shop and how she figures out the right price, just like prices are set in giant vegetable markets and stock markets. There's a story about taking a risk - just daring to speak up and do what you dream. Another about how a coin, one rupee, travels from you to me, adding and losing value, connecting us all. Climate change. Sustainability. Entrepreneurial skills. Getting started.

 

The Sound & Light show Part 2 will role out again in early December with six new stories. Come on down, this is what design-thinking is in India.

 
   

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