Working with Urban Poor Children Go Back
The general feeling in the department of education is that children of marginalized background are also poorer in learning capacities and perhaps not appropriate to be in the school. We have been struggling with this notion and have been interacting with the functionaries to emphasize respect for diversity. In a small way we have been working with the Sukher orphanage, the Bastis of Udaipur and in partnership with Seva Mandir with the communities living in adjoining areas. All this gives us confidence in our ability to work with groups of children from underprivileged communities. It may be also pointed out that a large proportion of children to Vidya Bhawan Schools are also from disadvantage communities.
The work with children has to be multi pronged. The first prong is to try and interact with them outside the school environment. This has been tried through the mobile library and activity van that includes books as well as indoor and outdoor games for children. Games not only act as an initial attraction for children but also provide them opportunities for healthy interaction with other children of their age. The children who engage with this include both the school children and those who have attended school at some point in their life. The idea is to increase the exposure of children to both scholastic and non scholastic activities and games.
Activity centers linked with the school or/and situated in the community can provide support to school going children. This could be through books that children enjoy looking at and reading, through educational games and activities. Free access to quality learning materials will encourage self learning in children
Another way is to work jointly with schools in these areas and open channels of interactions for providing children better education. In all these approaches it is important to interact with the community as well. This is aimed to share that their children can also learn well and ensure support and appreciation at home.
We have introduced the idea of a Support Centre to continue learning in the evening. The focus of these centres is to try and help children struggling in the schools by providing them opportunity to learn in a different kind of environment and develop their confidence in themselves. Teachers identified for these centres would be specifically trained and materials that are attractive and relevant to the context would be developed to work with children and engage them meaningfully. We used the existing material initially and then develop and evolve more material.
It is envisioned that students and teachers from Vidya Bhawan would also work in these Centers after school or college hours. Once these processes get initiated it would be possible to interact with the government officers and start exposing the Govt. School teachers to the concept and help them modify their classroom process. For the Vidya Bhawan teachers and students as well it would be a process of sensitization.
We have also interacted with the Education Department and are in touch with the DIETs and SSA to use the Resource Center to establish a dialogue on educational needs of children with deprived backgrounds.
Presently we are working with 14 Bastis and 56 schools in Udaipur area and now we are starting work in Rajsamand district also.