While every child in India has the Right to Education, in reality illiteracy is still high among the poorest communities in India. The reasons for this range from poor school infrastructure, lack of teachers to non-availability of functional schools in remote areas.
In many communities, a school is no more than a classroom in which children of multiple ages study and at best they gain functional literacy. Born to poor parents who are illiterate, they do not get the home support to build on their learning.The classroom itself is dull and learning is repetitive and tedious for children in rural India.
Many children drop out of school early because of poor learning outcomes, or because the school is too far or because they have to work in the fields to help their families earn wages to feed themselves.
Girls lag boys in education because they are not seen as productive members of the community due to generations of gender bias. Often they are not sent to school, and even if they are they drop out by puberty.
We work in communities by creating awareness for the need for better education at the primary level itself, and by bringing educational non-profits to these villages so they can use innovative tools and methods to teach the children. Some of this can be through small basic learning groups that help deliver rural child education.
Our work also includes helping rural teachers find ways to keep their class engaged and stay motivated. Our volunteers work with the community to encourage parents to be involved with the school, so that better education for their children is led by community desire for the schools to function regularly.
We also work with the government agencies to improve the school structure and facilitate better teaching. A lot of our effort goes to making primary education (6-14 year olds) accessible and joyful in rural communities.
At TRIF, this idea forms the core of our efforts in the sphere of spreading education within communities. Since we began work, we have seen better outcomes in school attendance, greater parent-teacher engagement, higher teacher motivation, and a deeper community understanding about the benefits of education. School attendance has shot up by almost 70 percent.
Rekha was from one of the poorest families in the village but she opted to become an education change vector. She is the torchbearer for learning in her village because she has personally motivated at least thirty students to turn up at the learning centre everyday to augment their classroom learning. She also manages a library at the learning centre and around forty five students regularly attend the centre. She is a super mobiliser and motivator and has come a long way from being a school dropout to leading a community driven learning initiative.
Priyanka has finished high school and she is so committed to ensuring education for all that she routinely comes to the learning centre run by our partners to teach younger children . She supports the library at the centre and she feels strongly that everyone should have the right to education. Her contributions have been especially useful during the pandemic when schools closed and children lost access to learning. Priyanka makes sure they stay in touch with learning everyday.
Our Mohalla learning centres are hyper-local learning hubs in which the education vectors gather the children from the villages and teach them in the neighborhood or corner around their homes. These encourage peer-to-peer learning. It’s there in every neighbourhood.
The emphasis here is on collective and interactive learning for small groups of children so they get equal attention and it is delivered by a community member they love and trust, making it a joyful experience.
Some of this is unstructured, so there are continuous new learning modules each month, and it can be tweaked to the learning levels of the local group. This could be something as simple as learning numbers through interesting games and role play. Similarly, we teach languages through poems and limericks that the children themselves compose so the experience is more participative.
Jhola, is a Hindi word for a small cloth bag. Almost everyone in the rural community has a Jhola for carrying their goods.
In this instance we support the education vectors with jholas filled with books.
Our education volunteers go from household to household to offer books to children so they may enjoy uninterrupted learning at their own pace. Mostly these are first generation learners and having story-rich material at their homes endears them to learning and even gets parents involved.
It’s like a mobile library in a bag. It helps the parents engage in the child’s learning process despite their own lack of literacy.
This has proved very useful during the Covid-19 pandemic-induced lockdown.