Tharunya @ After School Life Skills Programme
Dream a Dream empowers young people from vulnerable backgrounds to overcome adversity and flourish in a fast-changing world, using a creative life skills approach. Dream a Dream has crafted a pedagogical method and a process - a science that allows for a re-definition of adverse circumstances by changing the lens through which the past is viewed. Our programmes seek to improve outcomes for students by creating positive learning experiences through a collaborative approach that targets young people, parents, teachers, mentors, and volunteers.
Dream a Dream works through three key programmes, After School Life Skills Programme (ASLSP) and Career Connect Programme (CCP) which directly impacts young people and the Teacher Development Programme (TDP) which indirectly impacts young people through teachers. In ASLSP and CCP, we use a creative life skills approach where young people can make better choices and become more meaningfully engaged. TDP engages teachers to indirectly impact young people and is designed to nurture empathy, expand their creativity, develop listening and validation skills and the ability to share with authenticity while also learning facilitation skills.
Currently, we work with 10,000 young people a year through our two innovation labs – After School Life Skills Programme (ASLSP) and Career Connect Programme (CCP), have trained over 7,700 teachers/educators from 206 partners impacting over 1,92,500 children and have impacted over 1 million children through strategic partnerships with state governments in Delhi and Jharkhand. We work on a strong collaborative approach with local charities, corporates, volunteers, governments, expert consultants and a host of national and international strategic partners.
The impact evaluation of the life skills approach implemented across all the three programmes of Dream a Dream for the year 2018-2019 documents the best practices and innovations to provide inputs and insights for national and international level policies and programmes in life skills education. Dream a Dream has a standardized impact assessment scale for Life Skills – Life Skills Assessment Scale (LSAS) – to measure life skills. The LSAS developed in-house is a first of its kind, published and standardized scale that is being used by NGOs/Schools to assess improvement in life skills - http://globaled.gse.harvard.edu/files/geii/files/dream_life_skills_assessment_scale_final_2.pdf
Dream a Dream has been recognized and awarded for innovation, transparency and accountability over the years by Ashoka, Global Development Network, Harvard, Rockefeller Foundation, Resource Alliance and others. These videos talk about our work - https://vimeo.com/124809296 and https://vimeo.com/124817309
After School Life Skills Programme
In our After School Life Skills Programme, we use creative arts and football as mediums to engage and develop critical life skills among young people between the ages of 8 to 15 years. This programme is an innovation lab where new approaches to life skills development are introduced, demonstrated, documented, evaluated, and fed back into a larger framework for re-imagining learning for young people in the country. To measure the improvements in life skills amongst the young people, we use the Life Skills Assessment Scale (LSAS*).
*The LSAS is the first standardized impact measurement tool in the world to measure improvement in life skills among disadvantaged children.
“Dream a Dream has given me life!”
Tharunya is a bold and confident 13-year-old girl studying in Siri School in Bangalore. This school is situated close to an industrial area and has children of factory workers, manual laborers and garment factory workers attending. These children come from impoverished backgrounds; while their parents are busy at work, trying to make ends meet these children are forced to take care of themselves, their siblings and the household chores.
Tharunya’s story is not very different. Her father works as a manual labourer in a vegetable market while her mother is a tailor in a garment factory putting in long working hours. She is the eldest of the siblings and has to takes care of the household chores, which include cooking, cleaning the house, washing the clothes and helping with her younger brother’s studies, while her parents are at work. Her parents initially had her studying in their village back home as they couldn’t afford two tuitions but brought her to the city close to six years ago, when they realized she could keep her younger brother company and study in the same school as him.
When speaking to one of her teachers, they said, “Tharunya was incredibly shy when she first came to school. She seemed very afraid to give her opinion or answer in class. Even though it’s been a few years since she came to the city and to our school, she remained shy. Unless I called her name, she would never come forward. A good, hardworking and obedient student, Tharunya did what she was told and never took the initiative to do anything more.” Having moved from a Kannada medium school to a school in the city, where the medium of communication was English, Tharunya says that she took some time to adjust and she felt a bit scared to talk to anyone, for fear of being judged. She never mingled with boys and kept to herself and a few girls, she had befriended.
“When Dream a Dream first came to our school, close to three years ago, I was scared again. I kept wondering how I would interact with a new teacher. But, when the sessions started, I found the facilitators to be very friendly. They were not like our teachers. They didn’t scold us. They listened to us.”
Shruthi, who has been a facilitator for the After School Life Skills Programme in Siri School for the past two years expressed how Tharunya was very silent and seemed very cautious during the first few sessions. Having noticed that their batch always sat in separate groups of boys and girls, she ensured that she mixed them up, making them form groups with a good gender balance. The school was very strict about boys and girls interacting and it was very hard for the facilitator to explain to the students that these sessions would have them interacting and engaging with each other, in a friendly manner.
Tharunya says that this was the first time she realized that girls were not very different from the boys in her class. With interesting check-in questions and other activities, where they all had to think on the spot, Tharunya was being exposed to a new version of herself, which was outside her comfort zone. She began to pay attention to what the others were saying and feels she learnt so much from observing them and soon realized that this was a space where nobody would judge her. The facilitator held space for everyone, including Tharunya as she slowly worked up the courage to explore her talents, one step at a time. From becoming bolder and confident, while she spoke, she also started taking initiatives in ensuring that their groups always had a mixture of boys and girls.
Over a period of time her teachers in class found her volunteering to answer questions, on her own and slowly, was participating in all extra-curricular activities as well. Tharunya speaks boldly and confidently with everyone now and she communicates freely with the boys, as her peers. When speaking to her parents, they have also noticed a change and were very supportive of her decision to join Karate classes. They are very proud of how she has transformed into a responsible and bold child.
Tharunya says that she remembered one day when the facilitator conducted an activity where they all had to write down their dreams and talk about it. During that session, Tharunya watched and listened to her classmates talk about becoming a doctor, engineer etc. and she wondered why nobody was thinking creatively and out-of-the-box. A few days later, she came forward and told the facilitator that she wanted to become a Karate Coach. All this while, during the sessions, her mind was stuck on gender equality. She was thinking deeply about how girls are unsafe and need to protect themselves and she felt that if she learnt this herself and could teach others, she would be helping other girls defend themselves. Inspired by how the facilitators from Dream a Dream were helping students like herself be empowered with life skills, she wanted to make a difference as well.
From a shy, quiet girl who was making herself invisible, Tharunya has come a long way in pushing herself out of her comfort zone. Thriving for Tharunya is her wanting to give back to the community by ensuring that girls like her are empowered and feel safe. Thriving for Tharunya is ensuring gender balance wherever she goes.
Thriving for Tharunya is empowering herself so that she can in turn, empower others.
One of the teachers said, “I see Tharunya as a completely different student now and everything she does, even when explaining what I have taught in class, she does it in her own way and in her own style. The attendance in my class has increased and now nearly every one of them is present and I know that this is because of the After School Life Skill sessions. They keep telling me how the facilitators are teaching them so many new things and I am learning from them as well.”
Principal of Siri School: “Dream a Dream is making our dreams come true. I have seen tremendous changes in the students like Tharunya after Dream a Dream started their After School Life Skills Program through the medium of Arts in our school. The behavior of our students with their parents, teachers and society is very different than students in other schools. If you ask them to speak about any topic, they will come forward without any hesitation. They have developed confidence in their own abilities. When they are home, they take up the responsibility of taking care of household chores and help their parents. All of this is due to the life skills they have learnt in these sessions.”
Impact of our After-School Life Skills Programme:
- Overall enrolment in the programme for the FY2018-19 was 5,658 students.
- Total of 3,275 students opted for Creative Arts and 2,383 opted for Football.
- The programme achieved a healthy balance in terms of gender participation where 48.63% participants were female.
- The average attendance rate was 89% and the average retention rate was 94%.
- 96.8% of the tracked participants were more focused and willing to complete studies and achieve their Dream goals.
- 96.9 % of the participants had an end line score above norms and thus improved their skills to deal with challenges.
- 96% of the participants have seen a positive change after 2 years of reengagement.
Young People at "LEARN BY ART" event
Magazines released by the young people
Young People @ Life Skills Day 2019 event