Infrastructure Development of Zilha Parishad High School in Anwir, Patilpada, Talasari, Palghar District
Away from home, schools become a second home for children, as they spend most of their time there. From laying the foundation of learning, boosting their confidence to making them learn the importance of team work and socialization, schools do it all. The infrastructure of aschool forms a crucial part of the learning experience. Unfortunately, the infrastructure of many ZillaParishad schools of Maharashtra is dilapidated. Many schools do not have basic amenities like toilets, electricity, water facility, etc. The students and teachers are left struggling due to this situation. Even without having essential facilities, enrolled students are enthusiastic just to come to school and learn. However, the poor condition of the school prevails to become one of the causes of poor attendance.
The ZillaParishad School in Anwir (Patilpada) is a second home to 432 students and 10 teachers currently. Most of the students are from tribal communities and are economically underprivileged. Concern India Foundation believes that schools should create an environment that not only assures learning, but also pays special attention to the mental and physical well-being of the students.Thus, the role of basic infrastructure becomes imperative.
Concern India Foundation undertook the refurbishment of all the classrooms, construction of the toilet facility with a solar connection, construction of the kitchen shed, drainage line work and construction of an open stage on the school grounds.Leveling of the playground, provision of play equipment for the children and installation of a water tank and a bicycle parking shed were also undertaken.
While so many students in our country have the luxury of studying in air-conditioned classrooms, students on the other end of the spectrum, like the ones in the ZillaParishad School in Anwir,didn’t even have access to electricity in the classroom. As part of the project, solar electrification of the school was undertaken. This will ensure year-round electricity supply which will enhance the learning experience as well as thecomfort level of the students.
To access potable water, the students had to walk about 2 kms to a bore well and fill water in their own bottles or steel utensils. The installation of a drinking water system with RO filter in the school premises ensured safe and hygienic drinking water for the students and teachers. A hand wash station with 12 taps was also constructed to promote hygiene practices. In addition, rain water harvesting was introduced to conserve and reuse water. This will result in the increase in ground water level due to which students will have access to drinking water throughout the year.
Given the need of the hour, an e-learning unit was set up in the school, which will enhance the understanding of various subjects. Thematic painting was undertaken for the primary classrooms to enhance the appearance and create a cheerful atmosphere for learning. A new school gate was also installed for the safety of the school as well as the children.
Good and sturdy infrastructure coupled with essential amenities will further motivate students to attend school and also assure parents of the safety and comfort of their children. A school as good as new awaits the children when they return to it after the lockdown.
Improving Experiential Science Learning For Underprivileged Children
The current education system is designed based on the needs of the industry which arose after the industrial revolution. With the continuous advancement in technology, the industry requirements have evolved considerably over the years. On the other hand, the education system did not evolve at the same rate and is still lagging behind, leading to the creation of a gulf between demand and supply. The skills currently required for the industry are expert thinking and complex communication skills as compared to routine jobs. But this is not reflected in the education system, further increasing the gap between the real world and school education.
Some of the major educational challenges faced in India include:
Children exhibit rote learning, lacking in understanding, thinking or application.
Many children fail to achieve the Minimum Levels of Learning in any of the grades.
Many teachers are unable to effectively include co-scholastic activities relevant for building self-confidence, self-control, solidarity, health and so onalong with theoretical learning.
In India there have been ground breaking initiativesto address these aspects.One suchinitiative is of Arvind Gupta, who introduced Science learning using models with the most underprivileged children. The simple design and materials make it possible for every child to make, play and experiment with these models. This approach opens the doors for a way of learning which is tactile, engaging and also triggers thinking.
The project by Concern India Foundation aims to introduce the concept of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) using these science models.The children attempt to make scientific models with simple materials to gain conceptual clarity. The science models are largely based on the broader curriculum for each class. Involving teachers in this process iskey to enable this participatory learning process to become the methodology. This needs a paradigm shift in the attitude of teachers towards the pedagogy. To bring readiness among teachers to make this shift, they should be motivated and empowered. The teachers generally put forth the challenge of lack of resources and time. The project addresses these challenges in its approach. This project works with low-cost material resources and invests in existing human resources within the system to develop sustainable learning processes for the future.This approach will give impetus to the new methodology to become the norm of teaching-learning within 1-3 years of supporting and mentoring a school.
In many cases, children from underprivileged backgrounds feel intimidated to pursue learning Math or Science. The Mini Science Centres (MSC) set up by Concern India Foundation aim to stimulate curiosity, provide practical opportunities to explore the concept in easy ways and develop appropriate hands-on experience in understanding science and its concepts.This is sadly absent today across our education syllabus and more so with the burden of limited teaching staff in rural, municipal schools, which are primarily depended on for the education of underprivileged children.The MSC consists of 80 models covering topics from syllabus of classes 5-10. The models can be set up in a room or can be carried to the classroom by the teacher when the particular topic is discussed.
Concern India Foundation sets up Mini Science Centers in two ways. Where space allows, an individual STEM lab is set up and in schools with space constraint, the lab can be easily set up in a classroom as well. Such Mini Science Centres are set up in schools in Pune, Delhi and Bangalore, making tactile learning more accessible to the students from underprivileged background in these cities.
Educating the Girl Child - Bangalore Project
Concern India Foundation has been supported the Project since December 2017 which was designed to bring education and all-round-development to girls from the underprivileged sections of society who have been socially and financially marginalized. The project supported the components of Sponsorship, Afterschool tuition, Counselling and Life skills training and Self-defense. Total of 209 girls from underprivileged backgrounds were supported through partnership with four grass-root NGOs for two years. Due to COVID 19 and subsequent lockdown other learning sources like adoption of digital learning were explored. All the 10th STD students are provided with Tabs, internet connectivity and additional support through digital learning platform to improve the learning with specific focus on math and science. All the students who appeared for the annual examination 2020-21 under the project passed the examination. Average 65% percentage scored by all the students, out of which 2 students secured 90% and above.
Rise high and touch the skies - Bharati
This year after the 10th Pre University-Board results of Karnataka were declared, there was joyous celebration in Bharati’s house, a student of Government Higher Primary school located in Hanumapura village of Ranebennur block, Haveri district. Bharati had scored 91.7% with A plus grade in four out of six subjects.
Third among four siblings, Bharathi is daughter of daily wage workers Jayamma and Hanumanthappa. Though good in studies, the year of pandemic had posed a lot of challenges for this 15-year-old girl. With school shut down, classes being conducted online, no access to smart phone and parents’ financial woos, Bharathi had been worried about her performance in the Boards from the beginning. She knew this was a crucial year that would decide her future course. Bharati’s mother proudly talks about her daughter, “Bharati was doing her best to manage her studies and also help at home.”
From 8th standard onwards Bharati was part of “Educating the Girl Child” project of Concern India Foundation that supported evening tuitions for students from economically backward background. As part of this, CONCERN supported Bharati by connecting her with classes on online platform and to supplement this, also gave her a tab. In addition, she also attended evening tuitions conducted in her village by teachers recruited under this project. Weekends, she traveled 20kms to attend tuitions conducted at Ranebennur VRDS (Vanashree Rural Development Society) study center. All this support along with her sincere efforts paid off.
Bharati is encouraged by her results and plans to do much better in future. She plans to pursue Science in her 11th and 12th and aspires to become an Engineer and make her parents proud.