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.
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.
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.
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.
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.