Tag: Education

Swechha

After thinking, discussing, deliberating for almost two years over the fact that I should somehow contribute to the society by joining some NGO, I took the first step today and visited the Malviya Nagar office of Swechha. I and 6 of my colleagues were hosted there by Amrita Anand, who has been associated with Sweccha for more than an year now. I and the 4 of us were grouped for this sessions by Abhinandan, who had participated in the recent Flash Mob for Please Mend the Gap, which is an initiative for promoting gender equality in public space.

Amrita took us through the history of Swechha, the different programs it runs, the partnerships and related things in quite detail. We signed up a one pager form for one of their intiatives, Pagdandi, a volunteer based program to supplement education in children from marginalized society (resettlement and slum colonies).

Amrita then asked us to join for an evening session, where the children from nearby Jagdamba camp, were going to be told about “Right to Information” and then was to be play-acted. This was to be followed by a Karate class by one of the volunteers. We reached the park and there were around 40-50 kids and 5 volunteers. We were told that some of the kids have gone back to their villages so the number was expected to be around 50.

The Children were first told about Right to Information What it is, how and where to use it, why is it needed. They were then split in small groups of 5 each and all volunteers were assigned a group. Some of the groups were more than 5 too. The volunteers were asked to think of situations where the children could use the RTI, and then the same had to enacted. We sat with the kids and then thought of situations, roles and then practiced. After that, they were supposed to enact their acts before all groups, but time did not permit every group to do so. I reckon that they are supposed to perform at a festival next week (as far as I remember).

The Karate class followed that, and we witnessed that too. Half way in that, we left.

What I observed during all this is – the string sense of determination you need to be part of such activities. Believe me, children can be very very tough to manage. You can’t a group of 40-50 odd kids to listen to you, to maintain decorum. Never, period. I noticed that the volunteers (who have been part of this from long) had a lot of determination and cool. It’s not that I felt loosing my cool, but I felt loosing my determination in keeping the kids at one place, in asking to sit, in trying to have their attention and a lot more. At a time, I felt that I don’t have that much determination to be able to conduct such workshops/activities. May be all of the current volunteers started like me, but I don’t know that as of this moment.

Another interesting thing and a really good thing, was seeing how much determined Amrita was towards this cause and her job. She was speaking back at the office how she and others at her office are going to try to go to each household in Jagdamba camp, and check that they are accounting for all children there. When we were going to the park, where the activities were supposed to take place, I noticed that at two instances she stopped the car, when she spotted some kids, whom she knew, and where from the camp. Now that is what is called honest determination towards your duty. Not boasting her in any ways, but seriously hats off Amrita for the great work you’re doing. Keep it up! I’ll try to help in any possible way I can.

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Weird Assignment in School!

These days, I am in my hometown on a short vacation. Yesterday, while visiting my grand-father (in-law)’s place, I happened to look into the school books and school diary of my cousin who is in 5th grade. He studies in D.A.V. Public School, Anisabad branch. Let me tell you that DAV comes into the best schools in the city and this particular branch “used” to be very good for primary education. I studied there in my childhood.

Anways, so while asking him  about what all he learned on Friday in School, he was telling me what happened in each class. Then I asked him about the homework. On which, I was shocked when he told me what was his homework in Sanskrit! The Sanskrit teacher has asked the students to “draw the picture present in the book of a specified lesson”. Now this is shocking as it shows the absurdity of the teacher in giving assignments. I am also forced to question his ability to teach the students. I am seriously not able to understand how drawing a picture (and that is also a complex one which has crow, trees and something else) is related to learning Sanskrit! Maybe, this absurd and idiotic assignment idea came to the teacher as they MUST give something to the students in homework every day. But still, how come you ask students to draw pictures in Sanskrit or English or Hindi class? Isn’t that supposed to be work of the drwaing or arts teacher? What are they giving in the homework – are they asking students to learn a poem and then recite it in the drawing class?

These things raise serious questions on how teachers are assessed by the school authorities. I am not sure if they are even assessed. But, today when parents are paying huge amount of fee to the schools and sending their kids to good schools, thinking that they might learn better, there’s something else which is going on. In India, there should be a district education council type of body which should time and again assess schools and all teachers. The process may be cumbersome and lengthy but it must be incorporated. The body should be given authority over all schools – public as well as private. It is the responsibility of the government to make sure that private schools are complying and are imparting proper education and values to the students who are attending those schools. Being privately funded does not mean that a school can do whatever it wants to!

Education is still a serious issue which needs more attention from the central and state government.