Salaam Baalak Trust endeavours to provide a comprehensive package of services to children rescued from the streets viz, education, skill building, health and nutrition, latent talent development and exposure visits. An important component of SBT’s work remains education and skill building of children. While SBT’s comprehensive education programme is both flexible and pliable to take into account the varied of demands of working and street children. Many of these children have learning gaps and find it difficult to keep pace with the school curricular demands, in such a scenario the children are provided formal and non-formal education through participatory and play way methods. Similarly the children at SBT are also given adequate exposure to use technology in their studies, school and home assignments and know about the world around them. For this purpose SBT has been striving to establish fully functional computer labs in all its residential centres.
With the support of Ciena CSR division this year, SBT has successfully established a fully functional computer lab at Arushi Girls Residential Centre located in Gurgaon. The centre has a total capacity of 60 girls. Presently, the girls in the age group of 5-18 years stay at the centre. It is heartening to see that both young and older children are using computer lab with a keen interest. The following section details out the specific activities being conducted at the computer lab of Arushi.
The setting up of computer lab has brought in a new zeal among girls to use various MS office package tools as also the internet to see educational videos and learn about the world around. Some of the elder girls also use internet to connect with their friends in other residential centres of SBT online.
Some specific steps taken to ensure meaningful use of computer lab includes:
- Adequate technological infrastructure: The staff and children have fully functional computer labs with five functional computers which are not only maintained by staff but children also use them with caution.
- Set time table: A time table has been framed to optimise the use of computer lab by the girls. The non-school going girls use the lab from 11 AM to 1 PM and school going girls use the lab from 3 PM to 5 PM.
- Educational support: The computers are acting as a boon to children and their studies. Many school going children watch educational videos, prepare their school assignments with the help of information gathered through internet and the teachers at the centre try to establish the link between real and virtual information. Children have reported that internet has specifically been useful for them in understanding various concepts of science such as solar systems, laws of physics and daily life examples of chemical reactions. The younger children like to paint and learn in a play way method about colours and shapes. Those girls who are on the verge of completing their higher studies search about the various institutions offering courses of their choice online.
- Entertainment and communication: The children especially younger children like to watch rhymes and other e-stories on the computers while the older children are learning the use of GMAIL, Facebook and other networking sites. The staff also explains them both the virtues and vices of internet and how the children should not be addicted to it and follow safe cyber practices.
- Specialised computer training: On weekends a volunteer comes to teach children the use of computers including MS word, power point and excel. The classes have shown visible results in terms of increasing children’s technological capacities.
- Monitoring and supervision: The staff realises the importance of adopting safe cyber surfing practice and they supervise and monitor the use of computer, sites surfed and web content viewed by children.
Impact and Benefits
The access of computers on a regular basis has had two-fold benefits for the girls, first access of information and second building computer skills. Many girls have reported that they feel more confident in use of computers and they describe computer use as a specific and useful skill which would help them in their studies as well as their professional lives. The younger children also look forward to computer classes and enjoy them thoroughly. Further, the staff members have shared that young children not only get a chance of expressing their creative side on to the computer system but they seem to constructively use the enormous amount of energy they have by sitting together in groups and learning with each other. Another benefit of computer classes has been inculcation a sense of discipline among children wherein they adhere to rules of the class sit quietly, handle computer and other equipment with caution and use computer as per the fixed time slots.
This year an annual tour presentation was prepared by girls from Arushi where they employed their skills of making a power point presentation (ppt). (The snap shots of the ppt are attached below)
In future the SBT Arushi team plans to continue computer classes and design specific content and plan for these classes wherein the teachers at the centre would be able to teach children relevant topics from their formal education curriculum and non-formal education modules through use of educational videos, power points and web content. This would make teaching and learning more interesting and effective.