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 Education  India Project #14762

Support a Rural School in the Himalayas

by Aarohi
Support a Rural School in the Himalayas
Support a Rural School in the Himalayas
Support a Rural School in the Himalayas
Support a Rural School in the Himalayas
Support a Rural School in the Himalayas
Support a Rural School in the Himalayas
Support a Rural School in the Himalayas
Support a Rural School in the Himalayas
Support a Rural School in the Himalayas
Support a Rural School in the Himalayas
Support a Rural School in the Himalayas
Support a Rural School in the Himalayas
Support a Rural School in the Himalayas
Support a Rural School in the Himalayas
Support a Rural School in the Himalayas
Support a Rural School in the Himalayas
Support a Rural School in the Himalayas
Support a Rural School in the Himalayas
Deepak, our Sports Teacher
Deepak, our Sports Teacher

In the last report, we shared with you, the annual review, which detailed the progress of Aarohi Bal Sansar and the Scholarships Program for the year ending 31st March 2015. The goals outlined for the short-term included building teacher capacities, laying greater emphasis on sports and outdoor activities, continuing to focus on music, dance and art as an important part of the curriculum and improving interaction with the families of the students and community at large. We also planned to introduce an individual monitoring mechanism for students and teachers. In the medium term, we identified five areas to improve on our learning outcomes, namely effective lesson planning by teachers, differentiation in order to address multiple learning levels in each class, developing better reading habits of children and teachers, inclusion of creative teaching methods and continuously improving infrastructure to aid academic and extracurricular learning. We also planned to explore opportunities to integrate vocational learning as a discipline within the curriculum. Finally, we sought to introduce a structured mentoring program for teachers.

 

Progress Highlights (April to June 2015)

The progress made in the last quarter, against the short-term and medium term goals is as follows:

Short term: 

Sports and Outdoor Activities

The 2nd annual Aarohi Kumaon Himalaya Ride took place between 3rd and 5th April 2015,

through which riders from around the world raised over INR 260,000 (approx. GBP 2,600). The funds help Aarohi pay better salaries to their teachers, bring e-learning curriculum to a rural school like Aarohi Bal Sansar, hire a dedicated sports teacher and much more. We hired a new sports coach Deepak, who joined us in April this year. Deepak has successfully carried out intensive sports training of students from Class 3 to 8 in athletics (long jump, running, javelin etc.), Kho-Kho, Kabaddi, Volley Ball, and Cycling. Awareness on diet has been given special emphasis, as a result of which children are now bringing more wholesome carbohydrate and protein rich food in their tiffin boxes. Monthly sports rallies (intra-school sporting competitions) are being organised to prepare children to part-take in sports at the State level. In addition, we have also been working closely with youth in the region, as a result of which the strength of the youth group has grown from 120 to 170 in a short span of three months. Of these, 80 boys and 60 girls have been successfully trained in cycling in preparation for next years Kumaon Himalaya Ride.

Music, Dance and Culture

In addition to Kumaoni folk dance, the teachers have also been introducing folk dance and music from other parts of India. Rajasthani folk dance was taught to Classes 3, 4 and 5. For Class 6, the curriculum focused on drama as majority of the children were interested in theatre. ‘Bihu’ which is an Assamese folk dance, as well as Bhangra (Punjab), and Dandiya (Gujarat) were taught to class 7 and 8. In theory, topics of Kumaoni traditional architecture, food, and attire were introduced wherein traditional practices and their practical value were discussed with the children. In Music, children learnt and performed Kumaoni and Garwali folk dance forms such as Jhoda Chapali, Hudkiya, Bol, Chaiti, Choliya, Tandi, Jhumelo etc.

Student and Teacher Monitoring

While we are still working on consolidating our databases for individual student monitoring, we have made good head way in laying down the foundation for monitoring and nurturing teacher progress and growth. Together with our mentors we have prepared a detailed evaluation form which will be used from now on for half yearly appraisals. The form comprises a comprehensive list of categories including lesson plan, materials used, methodology, remedial work, self-development etc. Further, each category is scored separately. This has been done to ensure that the evaluation process is as transparent and as objective as possible. This is one small step towards our commitment to invest in teacher capacity building and how we are proud that ALL our teachers are local. 

Medium term: 

The Reading initiative

 We are now instituting processes where reading or 'engaging with text' is a pivotal element of pedagogy at ABS. The aim is to expose the children to as much English reading (and as a result better vocabulary and comprehension) this academic year. Some steps taken towards this end were:

 

  • Revamping the Library: Three wonderful volunteers helped us revamp our library. Madhu Upadrasta, an experienced librarian in a school in Mumbai, volunteered to be Beena’s mentor, our new librarian, and nurtured this young local lady into learning all about managing and maintaining a school library during her visit to Satoli in April. Gina Ali Khan, the English subject mentor, brought us a big suitcase, full of books donated by her school in Pune, MBIS. Another volunteer, Asmita Joshi, worked tirelessly with Beena and Gina to help catalogue all the books. We now, also have class libraries in addition to the main library since we have this elaborate catalogued collection of books! Thanks to the help and guidance from Madhu, Gina and Asmita and the on-going efforts of Beena, Aarohi school can now boast of a wonderful library, one of its kind in the area.

 

  • Staff Volunteering:The office staff have started volunteering by taking reading sessions twice a week with classes 3 to 5. A record of the books read and new words learnt are being maintained and shared with teachers, so that they can be practiced in their regular classes. “I have been reading to class five for a little over six weeks now and it has been great fun! The kids and I both look forward to the class. Many a time, I drift off from the story into other discussions, and I find that the activity is a fun way of familiarising children with English and sustaining their interest in the language.”  Dr. Puneet Singh

 

‘Gift a Smile’ collaboration with Amazon

 Aarohi Bal Sansar received its first package of books, DVDs, paints and stuffed toys as part of Amazon’s ‘gift a smile’ campaign’.

 These are being used to make classroom activities more interesting for the children. The books are also serving as a useful resource for teachers to help improve their English language skills.

 

Staff Mentoring Programme

The biannual Steering Committee Meeting was held in June 2015, in which teachers presented the progress made on various fronts and sought feedback from the committee members. A major outcome of the meeting was the decision to expand the staff mentoring program from English to include subjects of Hindi and Mathematics as well. Mr. Mohan Kabadwal, a retired state school Hindi teacher based in our village was appointed as the Hindi mentor, while Ms. Smriti Sharma, an experienced educationist based in Delhi has been appointed as the mentor for Mathematics. Mentors are approachable and experienced individuals who play an important role in guiding ABS teachers in day-to-day challenges they face

 

Scholarships

We now have consolidated data for scholarships (for students and teachers) offered by Aarohi since the inception of the program in 1997. A total of INR 8,211,568 has been invested in 925 students between 1997 and 2015.

 

Once again, we thank all of you donors for having faith in our capabilities to bring quality education to the young children of rural Kumaon.

Asmita Joshi, a volunteer, with ABS teachers
Asmita Joshi, a volunteer, with ABS teachers
New Library
New Library
Kamla, Vimla and Deepa with books from Amazon
Kamla, Vimla and Deepa with books from Amazon
Kamla being mentored by Mohan Masterji
Kamla being mentored by Mohan Masterji

Dear All, 

I present to you our Annual Review for the year 2014-2015. In addition to the education initiative, you'll read about our other initiatives in health and livelihoods as well. All your donations for year have been utilised for our school and related expenses. In the report you'll also get more information about our finances and learn that our education initiavte experienced the largest rise in expenses!! No wonder the year just flew by and so much has happened. The coming year will see more focus on teacher capacity building and exposure, and strengthening of our volunteering program. 

I hope you enjoy reading the review. Should you have any questions or suggestions please do not hesitate to write to me directly at sheeba@aarohi.org. 

On behalf of all of us at Aarohi, I thank you for your continued support in bringing quality education to the children of rural Kumaon Himalayas. 

with gratitude,

Sheeba


Attachments:
Rachana, our new Education Coordinator
Rachana, our new Education Coordinator

About Aarohi Bal Sansar (ABS)

Since its inception in 1994, ABS has been growing steadily and continues to work at raising the standard of education of the local children in the area. ABS has been functioning with the aim to institute the process of social change at an early age in order to help children become responsible citizens of society. There are currently 174 students (80 girls and 94 boys) studying in ABS. The school manages to maintain the teacher-student ratio of 1:11, which is far better than national standards, which can be as high as 1:50.

 ABS Vision

The vision of ABS is ‘Holistic development of personality in a joyful environment’. Towards this end, ABS is an inclusive school where admission is granted to all children from the area devoid of any discrimination. We charge a nominal monthly fee of (INR 250, CHF) and for those families who are unable to afford this, we provide scholarships. Nearly 80% of students at ABS are sponsored through a scholarship.

 Academic Performance

High academic performance remains a challenge for us at ABS as most of our students are first generation learners and have little support for their studies at home. Working in these conditions, our focus now is to institute systems that enable our teachers to work around these challenges.

 Recording and Analyzing Test Results: We studied Maths performance for classes 1-8 by looking at monthly class tests and half yearly exams. It was apparent that most students who are not performing well in math are actually bright but need assistance with some aspects of the subject- like multiplication or division. It emerged that with slight changes in teaching methodology these problems could be dealt with. This information will now be used by our class teachers and remedial teachers to address their performance.

 Extra-Curricular Activities: Highlights

  • First prize in Kho Kho for Primary category at Cluster, Block and District Level.
  • Independence Day, Teacher’s Day and Children’s Day were celebrated with usual enthusiasm. They were dance performances, art competitions and poem recitations.

 Bal Sansar Scholarship

Those children whose parents cannot afford the monthly fee at ABS are eligible for this scholarship. These children can study at neighbouring government schools at no cost but their families aspire for them to be able to study at a school like ABS. This puts in perspective the significance of this scholarship scheme. This scholarship scheme is reviewed every year in June. As per this year’s figures so far (June 2014), there are 55 students benefitting from this scholarship scheme. Next batch of scholarships will be reviewed in June 2015.

 Volunteers: A few select Volunteers…

 Gina Ali Khan (English teacher specialized in phonics from Mercedez Benz International School in Pune).

  • Conducted sessions with teachers about learning goals and gaps observed in the teaching of English.
  • Created strategies to improve phonics of both children and teachers.
  • Introduced the practice of collaborative meeting of English teachers at the primary level introducing the use of music and art/ craft when teaching English.

 Elizabeth Bramston and Fiona McCutcheon (Trained teachers from University of Cambridge).

  • Helped teachers in English language teaching and building tools for vocabulary learning.

 Neha Jacob (CA and Company Secretar with Ernst & Young)

  • Helped develop a format to analyze exam results enabling teachers to identify and address weak student performances more efficiently.

 Other news

 ABS has a 2nd floor

On 17th August, the new second floor of ABS building was inaugurated. The floor has one spacious art and craft room; one computer lab with 15 computers and internet; and finally a private office for our Principal. The new rooms shall allow for more space for primary school children.

 Education Steering Committee Meeting

Aarohi Education Steering Committee is an informal body of 10 members. It convenes twice year. On 8th November 2014, the 2nd Steering Committee Meeting for 2014 was held at Aarohi offices.

Main points of discussion and action points:

  • Revisit the ‘vision’ and ‘mission’ of ABS. Keeping up with its growth pattern and overall development issues in the region, a need was felt to revisit the founding guidelines for this initiative.
  • Shape and conceptualize Aarohi’s overall education initiative with respect to the needs of the region. Four main points were discussed-

-Streamline processes and effect better academic performance of students at ABS.

-Collaborate with government and other private schools in the region in order to provide quality education to more children in the region. The focus of this intervention shall be early learning and primary education.

-To increase community involvement in the education of their children.

- Finally, to continue expanding ABS infrastructure in order to make available facilities for use by other schools and community at large, in the region.

 New Appointments

 Education Co-coordinator

Rachana RK joined Aarohi as the new Education Coordinator in June 2014. She holds a Masters degree in Social Work. She will be responsible for overall management of ABS and time to time will also assist in our education expansion efforts.

 Primary School Principal

In an effort to restructure ABS administration, in addition to the Principal and Vice Principal, we now have a separate Principal for Kindergarten and Primary School. Neema Rajput has been teaching class 2 at ABS for many years now and has also recently qualified professionally as a teacher by attaining her B.Ed (this a professional qualification granted by the government of India). In addition to teaching class 2 students, Neema shall be responsible for overall management of teacher and student performances at Kindergarten and Primary School.

Neema- our new Primary School Principal
Neema- our new Primary School Principal
The students at ABS
The students at ABS
Art Festival on Children
Art Festival on Children's Day- 14 November
Independence Day celebrations
Independence Day celebrations
Sports Day at ABS
Sports Day at ABS

 Hello again everyone! 

Summer is a very busy time at Aarohi Bal Sansar (ABS) with volunteers. Our school welcomes volunteers from several backgrounds ranging from trained teachers and educationists to artists, musicians and sports professionals.

One such volunteer this summer was Gina Ali Khan. Gina is head of English Language Acquisition at the Mercedes Benz School in Pune, India. Gina spent most of her time in working with our Primary School teachers in curriculum development and lesson planning. Attached is a note from Gina about her time in ABS. Attached is also a poignant letter from Dharampal, an ABS teacher, to Gina. He talks about the importance of dedicated volunteers at ABS and how interacting with professional teachers gives teachers in a remote place like Satoli, an invaluable learning opportunity.

 In all this time, we also added a new computer room to our existing facilities. Now the students have access to better machines and broadband at school. The principal too, Taraduttji, finally has a room to himself. You will see him proudly sitting in his new office in the photos attached.

 I would also like to introduce our new education coordinator, Rachana. Rachana joined us in June and is responsible for managing our education interventions. Soon, she will be connecting with you all for future reporting.

 As always, should you want any more information about our work, utilization of donations or have any suggestions or feedback, please do not hesitate to write to Rachana at edu@aarohi.org or me at sheeba@aarohi.org.

With much gratitude, 

On behalf of everyone at Aarohi, 

Sheeba


Attachments:

Hello to you all!

It has been two months since I was in touch with you last. I hope wherever in the world you are, the summer sun is shining bright, unless if you are in Delhi where it is a scorching 47 degrees!! 

Last time I had reported about the charity bike ride and sent you all the annual budget for our school. This time you will see attached our Annual Review for the past year. It will also give details of all the donations we have recieved through Global Giving till March 31 2014. If you find a moment then do have a look- it will give you a complete picture of all our work done in the past year towards development in rural Kumaon. 

Should you have any questions/suggestions/queries please do not hesitate to contact me on sheeba@aarohi.org. 

with warmest regards, 

Sheeba Sen


Attachments:
 

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Organization Information

Aarohi

Location: District Nainital, Uttarakhand - India
Website:
Project Leader:
Neha Jacob
District Nainital, Uttarakhand India
$48,299 raised of $60,000 goal
 
395 donations
$11,701 to go
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