Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Case Study - Fair

24th April 2018, Tuesday morning the course leaders and group leaders started calling to ask about my arrival since all preparations were done. In assurance all I could say was "I will reach in the time, you need not worry." When I reached the village, I saw that there was a fair atmosphere. Unlike every other day in the village, today felt a little different. People were rather excited and full of energy and cheer. Children were excited yet a little nervous to appear for the test. The course leaders and group leader kept the tables, chairs, doors, mattresses etc. in the right place. At a corner of the village, our mela was being conducted by placing five tables beside each other. All the preparations were done very well. I was very happy to see the arrangements.
Together, we set up the contents related to different types of competencies at each table. Everyone sat down at their predetermined location. Gradually mothers and kids came to the determined location of meeting. On one side, the mothers satin groups, the kids sat on the other side. Some kids were accompanied by other family members too. They too made their own space among the mothers to sit and chat.
The mela began with an introduction session where people were explained the purpose of the fair and the way forward. Knowing this, the parents and the people of the village were rather elated to see our endeavor to work with small kids. This was the first time some organization took the initiative to do something for small child. It was thrilling to see the excitement among the villagers and their support as opposed to our fear of failure. After this, a couple of videos were shown to the mothers. The parents felt our concept is different as compared to the usual style of teaching. Additionally, they stated that with the help of these videos they can read out to their kids at home too. Most of the mothers said, “Teach us also that we will teach our children and take responsibility for teaching our children.” After that the test of the children started to be conducted. Mothers and Parents began to support children's test by applauding and pushing their kids. Young children also got excited to start the test. On the one hand small children were being examined, on the other the kids who were promoted to class 9 were summoned for their departure ceremony.
The level of excitement kept rising with passage of time. The kids and their parents felt honored to be involved in such a good cause for the first time. The children of the group sang songs to greet farewell to their seniors and gave them garlands of flowers. The children moving to a higher grade shared their experience of being a part of H-Learning program. Most of them had the same things to talk about. They said they have learned about bones, blood, colors, solar system, eclipse and English. They were happy to be a part of the program and saddened that it ended so soon! They felt so connected to the tablets that they were sad that they will not be able to study from the tablet anymore. To this, they were told that they can always refer to the tablet to revise the old material and look up for new additions made.
Now, it was time for small kids. Dressed in colorful clothes, under heaps of powder smeared all over the face they came to the mela with their mothers. The existing group members welcomed them by giving flowers, garland, self-made cards and tilak. They were elated to know that they will now be a part of the program that teaches on tablet. Course Leaders and Group Leaders were assigned the responsibility to guide and support the new joining kids.
Mothers were given a Welcome kit and informed about the usage of it. CRLs for the particular area were fixed too. The entire mela was a smooth sail. In the end, parents and mothers were appreciating the effort we at Pratham put to provide education to their children. We at Team Pratham have taken an oath to help the kids daily, since that is our only motivation.
In this way, the mela was done more effectively than expected. There are about 45 houses in LakhanPur village, 6 kilometers away from the Hilloli block office in Unnao district. From this village there were 4 groups, 25 children and 15 mothers and 12 villagers present in the fair.
Some of the picture mela have been attached below -

Fair picture in Lakhanpur village

The girl giving a test during the fair in Lucknow


Mothers watching videos during the fair in Lakhanpur village
The girl giving a test during the fair in Lucknow

Children farewell to older children in Ghalibpur

While giving material training to mothers during the fair

Akbarkeera farewell to older children in the village

Small children are welcomed in Akbarkeera village

Case Study

Sakran, Sitapur village, Odajhar ... ...

  The work of Pratham Education Foundation is prominent in the village of Odajhar for the last two years especially due to H-Learning program in which children study from tablets.
  Odajhar village is located 8 km from Sakran (Block headquarters). There is a total of 250 houses in the village, and not all of them are well thatched. Located in the village are some primary and upper primary schools in which children access Pratham materials along with regular school curriculum. There is also a small Anganwadi center in the village where the little children study. Most people work in the village are primarily farmers. Rug weaving is also a good source of employment and earning in this area. Some people go to the city to earn better wages. The entire village is divided on the basis of caste and creed.
 In Odajhar village, there are 12 groups in which 6 tablets are handed over to children to share and study. Over the past month the entire village and we at Pratham have been preparing and running programs for 5-to-7-year-old children on the one hand and helping the elder one make videos using Viva Video app. Both the programs are running successfully by the cooperation of our team members at Pratham and the villagers at large. Our work with pre-school kids is a good way to keep them engaged and updated with learning. The kids and their mothers participate equally in the learning process and the cooperation of the mothers helps us keep our programs running.
 During the follow up of pre-school preparation program we had a lot of funny experiences. One such interesting experience to see was that of 5-year-old Ayan. He resides with his parents and siblings. The elder male members of the family work at cloth mills to feed the rest of the family. Ayan's elder brother studies in class 7 and the elder sister studies in class 5. Ayan is yet to go to school. Senior children in pre-school preparations surveyed Ayan’s locality. After 15 days of Survey, the fair was organized in the village and the people of the house attended the fair.
   One hour before the assessment began, our team did a follow up session with all the villagers who had been invited to attend the Mela, to remind them to come to the designated location. Having received the reminder Ayan showed up at the Mela with his grandmother. Initially, there was a fear in him or maybe he was just a little shy, but seeing the other children perform so freely in the test he relaxed himself. By the time his assessment begun, the fear in him was gone and in fact he interacted so freely with our volunteers when he required help during the assessment. During testing on the testing counter, his grandmother was actively supported and encouraged him to answer the questions as required. At the end of assessment, Ayan was asked to stand with his grandmother while she was explained the purpose of our endeavor and the correct usage of our materials.
    When she was being handed over the report card and the material to take home, she was constantly told of how much time and effort Ayan along with his parents would have to make to see the efforts bear fruit. With that in mind they went back home and after 10 days when our team reached Ayan’s village again, we saw him engrossed in studying out loud with the help of the study material while his mother and grandmother sat beside him to support. The moment he saw us, he greeted us and we could see the excitement in his eyes to show us how confident he has grown over such a short period of time and how prepared he is to go to school. In 10 days, he was able to count up to 20 and even recite all the alphabets in order.
     Now Ayan goes to school and is able to recite poems, alphabets with clarity, count till 100 and even draw and color inside patterns as instructed to him during the ECE mela meet. We are looking forward to meeting him during our follow up ECE Mela as we shall be able to witness his enhanced confidence and morale, and add colors to our efforts as a family named Pratham.

Case Study-Moms

In the block of Biswa there is a village named Aspur. This village is a part of the H-Learning program run by Pratham Education Foundation. There are basic facilities in the village to survive but a dearth of education. Due to unstable economic conditions of the families, parents prefer to take their kids to the farms to work than sit at home and study or go to school. Education is not a common practice at Aspur.
 One such family is of Chandrasekhar. He resides outside the village to work at a silk factory and earn for a family of five. Two of his kids dropped out of school at an early age. Only one of the four siblings continue to study and recently moved up to Class 6. The youngest kid is 6-year-old and shall be sent to school soon. The kids and their mother take care of each other while the father continues to be the sole bread winner of the family.
When we started our mobilization work in the village to invite mothers and their kids to attend the ECE Mela Chandrasekhar’s wife, like the other women of the village was reluctant to attend. Owing to their illiteracy and economic condition, the villagers refuse to pay attention to education and rather look for earning avenues sooner than later. We somehow managed to coax her to attend the Mela along with her 6-year-old kid and gave her a reminder on the day of the Mela as well.
 Alas! She arrived at the mela with her kid with eyes full of anticipation and a face of innocence since this was the first time she stepped out of the house to go to a place related to education. She stayed a while as the ongoing activities caught her interest. Finally, it was time for her son’s assessment. He performed at each activity as instructed to while she stood behind him, not blinking till she teared up. After the assessment, our team members took her to the collection booth and explained to her in local accent how she can educate her child at home without books. We even mentioned to her how she can use objects as simple as fruits and vegetables to teach her kid to count. She was impressed to know that sitting at home she can teach her kids the basics of life without books; just by signing to him or reciting local poems and stories.
    During our follow up session, we went to her village to question her and her neighbors of the progress and were elated to learn that she is using the materials provided by Pratham to learn and teach her kids the basics. She even spread the word in the village about us and our work at the village. Now she and her son know to count to 100 and recite the alphabets in order. Such success might sound petty to the rest but to us this was a stepping stone to do good in the rest of the village and nearby villages and also change the mentality of people towards education.

Lalita and Her Siblings

   Her eyes gaunt like a martlet in ramshackle whose pinions have been tethered by the burden of family life as she stood there rapt in attention, yet lips pursed shut. If I were to look for a colloquial term for her expressions I would surely term it “exam jitters”. But the irony of the story is, she was just a 15-year-old sister who brought in two of her 5-year-old siblings for their assessment before they were handed over the kit to brush up their existing knowledge.
            Our team at Pratham had arranged for a small gathering at I.T Kendra in Dausa to conduct the assessment of kids studying in LKG. to class 1. A box shaped room, with collapsible iron gates at three corners of the room and no electricity, sweat trickling from every corner of the body would feel rather life threatening had it not been for the never dying cacophony of the villagers expressing their excitement to see their kids perform to be rewarded.
            The assessment was taking time to be conducted on each student, I took the liberty to interact with the parents of the kids to ask them the reason behind their motivation to come over leaving their work behind. Most of them said they were somehow coaxed to attend a short assessment followed by “material collection”. They were told that their children would be rewarded at the completion of the assessment.
            Leaning against one of the collapsible gates like a lost soul in a crowd I saw her for the first time. Lalita Rajbalai brought her siblings Poonam and Shankar for the assessment and kit collection and stood there crouching and barely blinking in a pensive state. I thought she was absorbing the nitty gritty of the assessment but turns out she was rather lost in her thoughts of the many work she was yet to attend after getting home. Since the loss of their father, Lalita took over household chores while their mother became the sole breadwinner of the family.
       Her siblings on the other hand were the most innocent faces I had come across all day long. Brother Shankar dressed up in his best attire, would not open his mouth while his sister Poonam would not stop talking! The bond of a sibling reflected so well during every test where Poonam would not stand in a queue for her turn, rather kept prompting answers to Shankar or repeating the instructions in a baby tone to her brother so he would answer. Sometimes she even held his hand to make him feel comfortable in the crowd, but he refused to answer the questions and poor Lalita’s pupils dilated a little more to almost burst out in tears. She felt her efforts to educate her siblings are not enough. While the other parents kept pushing and patting their kids to answer correctly she stood there rock solid, contemplating where she had gone wrong.
        Gradually it was sister Poonam’s turn to appear for her assessment. She was a kid full of zeal and confidence to answer and was determined to answer all questions correctly. That was the point where Lalita’s facial expression seemed to change. Her eyebrows arched back to where they should be and for once did I see her lips struggle to crack a smile. She wiped her sweat with her dupatta and let out a gasp of air that she had been holding back too. As the assessment proceeded and they reached the final counter for the last test, she finally breathed an air of finality and smiled as wide as her mouth could stretch. Her anxiety seemed to have flapped wings and take off alas.  
        Well for sometime, the smile could have been a sign of relief that it was all over and she could finally get back to her chores without wasting anymore time. To her it was much more than that. When I finally managed to talk to her for a few seconds before she vanished in thin air, pacing to pick up her chores from where she left them she told me, she was rather elated that her siblings had been chosen to receive the gift of education that could probably not be possible considering their economic status. She mentioned how education is hard to impart without the apt materials. Being educated has helped Lalita realize the importance of the material that was being distributed. While the others were there for the material as a symbol of a gift, she was there to see where her siblings stand and how she can teach them later when left to face them alone. If I were to translate and quote her exact words they would be as “One needs to know where to start. With Pratham materials, Now I know what to teach my siblings when I’m done with my work and my studies."
(प्रथम मटेरियल के साथ कहा से शुरु करने की आवश्यकता होती है. मैं अब जानती हूँ की बच्चो को मुझे क्या सीखना है. जब मैं मेरा काम और अध्ययन पूर्ण होगा)

                                                  Prithusha Sikdar

Village case

  In the block of Sakaran there is a village named Kamariya Khunkhun. This village is located about 8 kms away from the Biswa district. Education in this district is not booming but some people are educated. On the first visit to the village, we realized that education in the village is directly related to the economic status of the family. The families with lower income have almost zero educated members while the families with higher status due to higher earning have at least all educated male members. Most of the kids of lower income status families are to be found in the fields working as farmers or grazing cattle. Though there are primary and secondary schools in abundance in the village, the kids prefer to stay home and work in the fields.
    The preparation for Pratham ECE Mela started from the month of April 2018. Our programs with the usage of tablet has been going on in this village for two years now. We at Pratham have been performing various activities like painting walls of the villages, creating rallies and walking all over the villages, arranging parent-teacher meetings etc. all over the village to spread the word about us and our endeavor to provide quality education. Our efforts have paid back as the entire village is aware of us now and is more actively in support of us as compared to the time we first set foot in the village with our activities and objectives. This active support is much more visible through the participation rate of the villagers in our recent ECE Mela program. ECE was the first time someone made an effort to educate kids before they enter school.
      Initially the villagers were reluctant to attend this gathering as they thought it would be a waste of time since education at any level costs money. They thought we would make a onetime effort and leave. Later, they would not know how to continue to teach their kids or maybe we would ask the parents to buy materials to support education of the kids. When explained the entire procedure in local language with lots of assurance, the parents finally signed up for this program and made time to attend. When they finally attended the Mela they were glad to see our assessment methods. They saw how we use locally available objects to make kids guess their answers. When the mothers along with their kids were being handed over study material, they were given a brief on how to use the material and teach their kids they were rather relieved and could not wait to thank us for teaching them such simple methods of educating their kids and learn from the materials provided. During our follow up session we spoke to almost all the kids who appeared for the ECE Mela and seeing their progress we believe the kids are ready to go to school now.

Case Study - Fair

24th April 2018 , Tuesday morning the course leaders and group leaders started calling to ask about my arrival since all preparation...