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Linkages to strengthen Primary Education

It is not an unknown fact that primary education forms a base for the overall development of a community. As a country, we are poised to achieve universal primary education and in doing so, it is receiving the attention it needs from various Governments as well as Non-government organizations. 


With a school every 5 kilometers, access to schooling is not an issue, but retention sure is. Many efforts have been made already to focus on how to get children enrolled in schools but the focus is never enough to ensure retention of the children in schooling.  


Since education is essential for building a self-sustainable community, the Project Anandi Activity Centre by Huntsman India Private Limited in collaboration with ARCH Development Foundation aimed to focus on the essential elements meeting the primary education need. 


Umraya formulates one of the clusters of villages in Padra District of Gujarat with a population of 4115 people. Having a rapport with the community members and the village level workers and key informants, intervention in the area was planned to bring about the desired change. Since primary schools seem to be most neglected, owing to their condition, planned work intervention was sought. A baseline assessment highlighted that while Umraya being close to Padra, an industrial belt, the school could not achieve the targets of meeting the learning requirement of the children. 


What plagued the schools included a set of socio-cultural factors like irregular/low attendance of children in schools, indiscipline, and low level of learning of the students. It is not uncommon to find children who are in school but are functionally illiterate.  


Varied factors are involved in ensuring that children attend schools and in doing so, they retain that attendance to learn. Once children are in school, many factors determine whether they will continue or drop out, whether adequate learning and interest in education will take place and whether their interest will be sustained. 


Linkages with the main stakeholders of the schools like the teachers, students, and the parents of the children indirectly are built to enhance the learning experience of the children in the schools. 


To tackle these issues, various interventions through project Anandi were undertaken in Umraya Primary School. The major ones included:  

  1. Provision of Remedial Classes: students from low-income backgrounds often fall behind in their journey towards quality education. It is important to identify the gap where the children fall back. Learning once again the content that was taught is not the answer and so at Anandi, the approach of remedial learning was different from the conventional remedial learning which not only included the play way method of learning but laid equal emphasis on the use of integrated approaches to teaching and learning that kept the children engaged and ensured retention of the knowledge disseminated. 

 

  1. Various competitions to enhance the competitive spirit among students: it was found that the children did not have a sense of being competitive and thus this was taken up as a forefront activity to instill that competition, healthy competition that too, is necessary to improvise one's capacities. Competitions enhancing the fine as well as gross motor skills of the children, setting a creative platform to challenge their imagination, and at the same time take up activities that boost their mental confidence was taken up. This not only prepared the children for polishing their skills but also made sure that the children enjoy the scholastic and co-scholastic activities which in turn helped in increasing the level of retention in the schools. 

 

  1. School Sansad program to develop leadership and a sense of responsibility among children: children learn being submissive at an early age, if positive leadership qualities are not taught to them at the right time, it can result in skewed development of the children. The School Sansad program or the School Parliament Program gives hands-on experience to the children to understand democracy and learn to solve issues locally through rationalization and consensus for the greater common good. 

 

  1. Team building program for teachers: to enhance group work and collective engagement of teachers to take interest in experiential teaching and learning methods at schools. The team building program for teachers focuses on the collective sharing of teaching responsibilities and usage of skills that teachers possess to meet the learning objectives for the children. This team-building program helps teachers know collectively, the skills that need upgrading and helps to synergize their competencies to create a conducive learning environment for the children. 

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