Anandshala, a whole school approach for holistic development of child has emerged as a solution to deal with the issue. Addressing the issue of migration, Anandshala approach developed by CEE in 2003, has been adapted as 'Swapnilshala' and was implemented with support of Ashiana Housing Limited at Govt. UPS, in Ghatal, Bhiwadi, which is industrial hub of Rajasthan and suffers with problem of migration. With a child specific intervention to mainstream him/her, 'Swapnilshala' project entailed process of development of a model that can be replicated by education department and government for achieving goal of education to all.
The model pulls together a comprehensive range of quality interventions in education at national and international level. In accordance with National Curriculum Framework (NCF) 2005, and RTE, Swapnilshala emphasized a holistic approach of learning, enabling construction of knowledge by actively engaging students in process of observation, exploration, discovery and analysis. The model is a testimony correlating formal education with life skill activities and thus reorienting education for sustainable development.
Swapnilshala underpinned the concept Anandshala, a unique concept that doesn't see school in isolation; rather it takes an overarching participatory approach through common visioning exercises, local capacity building and provision of support in terms of financial and technical resources. Building on the learnings from Anandshala, a comprehensive and multipronged strategy was adopted in Swapnilshala to cater non-school going children and achieve the goal of quality primary education for all. On one hand enabling mechanism made sure that all children gets enrolled and are mainstreamed through child specific intervention. On the other hand, its ensuring mechanisms fortified quality education to all the children. This strategy also entailed quality assurance of processes and results in development of a model for achieving goal of education to all.
Step towards dream school of children and community: The journey of Swapnilshala began with participatory visualisation exercise to create a common vision for school. This was a key step for involvement of various stake holders of the school in planning and implementation of the physical infrastructure and its upkeep of the school, defining every ones roles and assuming shared and individual responsibility. Formal and informal discussion with these stakeholders were held on different purviews on quality education and allied open ended issues. This lead to brainstorming and sharing of thoughts on quality education, its linkages with school infrastructure, management and practices and perspective of community for quality education. Participants came forward with views of learner centric activity based learning process which lead to holistic development of child and that environment of school should not create fear, but should be like home, at the same time provide student with opportunities to explore and learn with fun. To clear the role of hardware in quality education, experiences of previous Anandshala was shared with a discussion on locale specificity and innovations in hardware and its linkages with education process of school. This kindled a thinking process among the participants on the parameter, which they see essential for quality education and role of hardware for achieving it. An exposure visit to a school in their area, which the participant ranked best for education of their children supported them to understand need of the observed things/practices and its relation to quality education along with the other alternatives for it. This helped participants to prevent copying of these things/practices while drawing school development plan of their dreams and ideas for an ideal good school.
Quality education for all : Analysis of door to door survey carried out in the project area concluded with 7% non school going children of 6-14 years. A conversation was held with the parents to convince and motivate them for their child enrollment to the school. But these efforts were not sucessful. A special training programme(STP) was started with these children in community. STP involved approaches of joyful learning via a variety of teaching learning approaches like game, performing arts, art and crafts, etc. In few activities, nearby community members were also involved. Extending the STP to community helped to solve the issue of enrolment of non- school going children as they realised the role of education for the development. More than 50 % students got enrolled to school through special training programme and continuous follow-up.
Teachers as facilitator of education: Teacher empowerment is critical element in the success of the present educational system. In education, to be just bookish is not important, but how best a teacher puts a simple idea into practice is important. The creativity and the innovation of the teachers play an important role in deciding the quality outcome. In order to make teacher critically think about their subjects and how can they utilize the available resources and space in the school to engage students, training programmes and exposure tours was organized for teachers focusing communication and management, subject specific skills and teaching learning methodologies. Benefits from exposure programmes are endless, the most important of them are exchange information, drawing principles and lessons that can be adapted and adopted for creating learning environments that are more interactive, the significance of collaborative learning strategies and motivation. Following are the major outcomes of various activities carried out with teachers for enhancing their capacity for improving quality of education and facilitating learning among children:
Child to child approach of learning: A child-friendly school requires not just getting all children into schools but making sure that all schools work in the best interest of children. Children are curious from the moment they are born. They want to learn about and understand their world. Children's early experiences shape how their brains develop. The more work the brain does, the more it is capable of doing. When children play, their brains work hard. Playing is how children learn. Play comes naturally to children. They play during daily routines. They play during learning experiences we provide. Sometimes it look like not much is happening. But play is filled with opportunities for children to learn and develop new skills. When children play, they use all their senses such as hearing, seeing, tasting, touching, smelling and moving to gather information about their world. Later they gather information through language. Many such activities were conducted at Ghatal UPS that facilitated inclusive education via peer learning. For eg. student led school level newsletter. The newsletter served as a nice platform to have voice and views of students. The article of newsletter covered issues on likes and dislikes, their problems, observation and experiences inside and outside school, activities and learnings, information, etc. These activities helped to inculcate following skills among the students
The experience and response from students was overwhelming and they always looked forward for next class to take place. Students are blamed for not bringing their homework, but in this case students were responsive and completed all the assignments given to them. In these activities students were not taken directly towards the answers but they were made to think of the answers by themselves. Asking questions without hesitation, working in groups, sharing things can be seen as the positive outcome of these activities.
Community stewardship for school development and management: Schools do not exist in isolation, they reside within communities and hence it becomes important to cultivate and serve relationships with them. Children are engaged in a continuous, dynamic process of bridging the world of school and world of home and community. Since one of the objectives of 'Swapnilshala' was to develop a 'Child Centred and Child Friendly School' special attention was given in involving communities for school and children development. From the inception, each activity under Swapnilshala focussed on creating proactive linkages among school system and community. School management committee (SMC) is perceived as one who would own the project. Various activities like visualisation workshop, formal SMC orientation, involving community in special training programme for students, informal interaction during mid-day meal and celebration of important days at school served as important opportunity to initiate a dialogue between school and community defining every ones roles and assuming shared and individual responsibility for school.
Community participation played a key role in each juncture of the project. They had their active participation in bringing non-school going children in the special training programme, Bal mela, other developmental works like making swings from tyres, building periscope, painting, gardening etc. Involving community in such activities developed a sense of responsibility that they owned this school and any harm to this would be harm to their children and create interference in their developmental process and also to promote school as knowledge resource centre.
Learning for the environment, by the environment, of the environment: The physical environment that encompasses us or a child at any point of time provides varied opportunities and potential to interact with it and learn. Using building as learning tool is about developing and using the physical space and infrastructure around the child as a learning resource in a child friendly manner. Swapnilshala emphasized on how the physical settings and learning elements can be used across various subjects and concepts across grade which in turn would establish interface between pedagogy and physical space. Swapnilshala managed the dynamics between flexibility to accommodate change/development and incorporate sustainability within the design of building and ground as one entity. While developing the teaching learning material (TLM), children from all grades were given a platform to voice their inputs regarding topics they found difficult and would like them integrated in the school building. Accordingly the curriculum was analysed and materials were developed class wise. Also inputs from teachers were taken for developing the learning aids. For making the TLM's interactive, a space was provided for the children to replicate some of the TLM's, complete the TLM's and write their own thoughts on the TLM's. Positioning of TLM's at appropriate place was given a due consideration like TLM's related to vegetable and medicinal garden were positioned near to it etc.
Thus as a child friendly school system, Swapnilshala promises a participatory and comprehensive approach to plan quality education for all and aims to revamp schools and institutional systems through the adoption of child friendly principles in planning, teacher support system, teaching learning material, pedagogical processes as well protective learning environment.
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