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May 31, 2019

Fighting Superstitions to Go Back to School!

Vasu, Beneficiary
Vasu, Beneficiary

Vasu* has an elder brother and sister and one younger sister. Her parents are farmers and have never been to school. Her elder siblings have completed 9th Grade and the younger sister is studying in 1st Grade. Unluckily, Vasu wasn’t able to continue with school. She dropped out after attending 1st Grade and was identified as an out-of-school girl by Educate Girls’ Team Balika (community volunteer), Kamlesh, during a field survey. When he reached out to her parents to speak about Vasu’s re-enrolment, they were not very welcoming and insisted that since she’s sick, she wouldn’t be able to go to school. 

Vasu’s school teacher explained the entire scenario to Kamlesh. He said that Vasu used to attend school regularly but once she developed a slight swelling around her mouth she did not come to school for a week. A few days after she came back to school, the swelling returned and this time she did not attend school for over 15 days. This kept happening at regular intervals and eventually she dropped-out of school. Looking for a cure, her parents believed that Vasu was cast with a spell, so instead of taking her to the doctor, they indulged in sorcery.

“I went to Vasu’s house several times to speak to her parents but they were adamant about not sending her back to school. They told me about her poor health and said that they consult with a local ‘baba’ (Black Magician) who told them that she should be kept at home in order for her illness to be cured. I was not shocked since a lot of villagers still hold these age-old superstitions. These superstitions are fear-induced and due to their ignorance, the villagers often fall prey to it. I tried reasoning with them but it did not help.” Says Kamlesh.

In another attempt, he invited Vasu’s parents to one of the community meetings, where he asked the school teacher and other village influencers to speak on the importance of education. Kamlesh himself spoke about how education can help in improving the well-being of an individual and how it has a cumulative effect on the immediate family as well as the community. He told them about the health facilities provided by the Government and urged everyone to avail it.

After 7 months of consistent efforts, Vasu’s parents finally agreed to send her back to school and she was enrolled in Grade 3. Kamlesh told Vasu’s parents that the swelling could have erupted due to an allergic reaction to dust particles. Vasu has been attending school since the past four months and has not had the swelling on her face since then. He told them that she has been learning about how to keep her surroundings clean which will prevent her allergy to erupt again. She now has the basic awareness of health and hygiene which will not only help her but her entire family’s health.

However, since Vasu had missed many classes, she found it difficult to cope up with the pace of teaching in school. But with extra lessons from the school teacher and Kamlesh, in due time she caught up quickly. She can now read sentences in Hindi, form words in English and do basic addition in Math. Her parents are also happy to see their daughter doing well in school and have promised to go to a real doctor if Vasu falls sick again.

* Name changed to protect the identity of the minor.

Vasu reading out a story to her mother.
Vasu reading out a story to her mother.
Vasu learning at school.
Vasu learning at school.

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Jan 30, 2019

GKP kits: A support to the Teacher as well!

Manjula with children at School
Manjula with children at School

Manjula is the only teacher in the school in her village in Banswara district of Rajasthan, India. She has been working with the school for over 8 years. The school consists of 51 students including 29 girls and 22 boys.

After Educate Girls completed its door-to-door survey in Manjula’s village to identify out-of-school-girls, they conducted community meetings among the villagers to make them understand the importance and benefits of girls’ education. Despite single-handedly taking care of her school and being extremely busy, Manjula made it a point to be a part of all the meetings.

Most of the villagers were against the idea of educating girls and sending them to school and hence did not co-operate initially. Manjula being an influential person in the village advocated Educate Girls’ work in her village which had a positive impact on the rigid mind set of the villagers. She not only worked actively with the field coordinator Vitthal in enrolment of out-of-school-girls but also joined hands with Renuka, our Team Balika (community volunteer) from the village in the implementation of Educate Girls’ learning curriculum called Gyan ka Pitara Kits in her school. Gyan ka Pitara (GKP) kits which translates to 'Repository of Knowledge' is an innovative tool used in school to make learning easier for children.

GKP kits consists of colourful, activity based tools focused on building micro-competencies in Hindi, English and Math for children in grades 3, 4 and 5. The GKP kits have been created keeping in view, needs of the most marginalised children and uses interactive methods such as games, stories, visual tools, flash cards, etc. The kit also includes multiple worksheets for individual practice which helped the staff and even the school teachers keep track of every child’s progress.

Benjamin Franklin has rightly said, “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.”

Manjula is indeed grateful for the 3,000+ piece activity based pedagogy as she said that, “Being a teacher, I already feel there’s a huge responsibility on my shoulders to shape the minds and future of my students. It often gets difficult and tiresome to effectively manage a strength of 50+ students alone.

However, ever since Educate Girls’ Team Balika Renuka approached me to implement the GKP kits in our school, my work has become much easier. The activities in the kit have drastically improved the learning levels of the children. Even those students in my class who could not comprehend the alphabet earlier are now able to easily recognise letters and form words and sentences. Students have also started taking a renewed interest in studies and are more interactive in class!

I am thankful to Educate Girls' team for introducing such an interactive curriculum in classrooms and taking the initiative to implement the same!"

Educate Girls' learning curriculum tools
Educate Girls' learning curriculum tools
Gyan Ka Pitara in action..!
Gyan Ka Pitara in action..!
Nov 5, 2018

MAKING LEARNING A FUN ACTIVITY!

Manohar using GKP kit in the classroom
Manohar using GKP kit in the classroom

Learning should be an activity which nourishes the child’s intellectual, social and behavioural growth. We at Educate Girls (EG) believe in helping children to receive quality education apart from improving Enrolment and Retention of marginalised children in the educationally backward districts of India. In order to help children learn well and achieve higher learning outcomes, Educate Girls has partnered with a pedagogy and child psychology expert – Sol’s ARC to develop a curriculum which is an activity based pedagogy. The curriculum is implemented through learning kits called as Gyan ka Pitara (GKP) which translates to ‘Repository of Knowledge’. The GKP kit focuses on building micro competencies in English, Hindi and Mathematics for children in grade 3, 4 and 5. These kits are child friendly, context specific and sensitive to the needs of the most marginalised children and under-served children of India. The kit complements the conventional school curriculum and have helped to make the classroom stress free where children learn the basics of literacy and numeracy while having fun through games and group activities.  

For the past twelve years, Mr. Manohar has been teaching at a school in Udaipur district of Rajasthan. As a teacher, he used to notice that the dropout rates were quite high and the children’s interest in learning activities were quite low. He mentioned that the childrens performance was poor in English and Math and eventually the attendance was hitting the lowest mark. Manohar was introduced to Educate Girls when the organisation started their program in the district. With the introduction of EG and its GKP curriculum in the school, he has noticed a tremendous increase in the level of interest towards learning among the children and this has ultimately improved the attendance and retention level of children in the school. Manohar has proven to be a great support to the cause. He actively participates in Educate Girls’ other programmatic activities which are conducted in his village.

Manohar remarks, “I have seen a massive change in the learning levels of the children in my school. Educate Girls’ Gyan Ka Pitara has many interactive tools and activities that help children learn more effectively. The best part about the GKP kit is that it’s very easy to incorporate in the regular curriculum, hence making my job much easier. The kit also contains worksheets that help me trackevery child’s learning level. More than 25 children have scored an A Grade in Hindi and Maths. Earlier, they used to face difficulties in learning English and thus lost interest in the subject. But now they are eager to learn new words every day! This has really helped to maintain regular attendance of children in school and I’d like to thank Educate Girls for their support.”

Like Manohar, many teachers in schools where Educate Girls operate have appreciated the benefits of GKP kits and supported their implementation for better learning outcomes.

Children using the GKP kits in school
Children using the GKP kits in school
 
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