Madhya Pradesh: Rural learning centres help kids in Barwani stay in touch with education
In a bid to ensure that kids in rural households of Barwani district do not drop out of their schools or lose their touch with education, community-driven 'learning centres' are acting as a bridge. Details here.
Ashish Anand 3 Nov 2022 1:30 PM GMT
Jaytal Ekwale, a farmer from Madhya Pradesh's Barwani district is happy to see his two children take interest in learning their school lessons — a sight that he hardly ever witnessed before sending them to the shiksha kendra [learning centre].
"My two sons — Anu Raj and Anshu Raj study in class second and class fourth. Despite being enrolled in the local government school, they took little interest in their studies. I have been sending them to the shiksha kendra for the last one year and I am glad to see them studying regularly. They can read fluently now and their ganit [maths] skills are also improving," Ekwale, a resident of Pukliya Khedi village in Barwani district's Rajpur block.
"Earlier, upon seeing them loiter around in the village aimlessly used to make me anxious for their future. I don't want them to end up like me. Seeing them study well gladdens me now. I am thankful to the people who are running these tuition classes," he added.
Mansa Ram, another farmer from the same village stated that his kids' grades have improved at school after sending them to the learning centre.
"If they continue like this, I am sure that they will themselves understand the importance of education and will never drop out of school," Ram told Gaon Connection.
The centre in village is amongst 40 such learning centres in the Rajpur block which are jointly set up by Transform Rural India Foundation (TRIF), a Delhi-based non-governmental organisation (NGO) working to enhance the living standards in rural areas across the country and Eklavya Foundation, a Bhopal-based NGO working for better access to education for the underprivileged sections of the society.
The two NGOs came together to set up these learning centres in 2018 upon realising that many households in the region prefer getting their kids to work as early as possible which is often at the expense of tiny tots having to drop out of school.
Abhishek Gupta, block manager of the TRIF told Gaon Connection, "In this area, students' dropout for daily wages are huge after they reach the age of 11-12 years. The urgency to get more people in the household to contribute to earnings is a major reason. Also, poor farmers here often migrate to other states along with their families. These learning centres are trying to make the classroom experience interesting so that kids themselves look forward to learning".
TRIF has distributed a learning kit worth Rs 10,000 to each of these 40 centres. The kits are packed with attractive educational tools and games. Also, the expenses for books and stationery of the students at the centre are funded by TRIF.
Local youth take up the role of teachers
The teachers at these centres are the local youth who voluntarily take up the responsibility of teaching the kids from their villages.
"We are also working on capacity building for volunteers by giving them training on how to teach kids with tool kits. In every centre, 30 to 35 students are learning. More than 1,500 students have benefited from these centres so far," Gupta added.
Padam Singh Chauhan, a guest teacher in the government's primary school at Nihali Jorai village in the Rajpur block began teaching students in a community learning centre during the lockdown imposed to check COVID-19 outbreak when schools were closed.
"When school reopened I continued teaching in the learning centre because in school I have to go through a syllabus which is very theoretical but in centre I teach students in my way as per the needs of the students. They are promoted annually but their knowledge is not up to the mark," Chauhan told Gaon Connection.
"I teach them through different methods including board games. After coming from school I have nothing much to do so rather than wasting my time on setting here and there and doing unproductive things I enjoy teaching kids. My little one also studies in my learning centre. I get self satisfaction from contributing to society," the teacher added.
Learning centres helped curb disruption in education post COVID-19
Meanwhile, Suresh Pal, academic field support person employed with the Eklavya Foundation said, "We want every student to be at least aware of basic maths, identify the alphabet and read small sentences. We trained volunteers to teach kids with the help of poems, stories and games and encouraged those students coming in the centres to go school regularly".
"We started with 10 centres but during COVID-19 period, we saw many students working in the agricultural fields and after the lockdown when schools were reopened, failed to return to their classes at schools. At that time our volunteers went door to door and convinced them to come to the learning centre and so far it's been a very positive experience," he added.
These centres have also helped rural women who had to drop out of school feel a sense of empowerment by training them to teach at these centres.
Sarita, a daily-wage labourer has studied upto class 8th. She teaches at a centre located in the Bhagsur village and tries her best to convince parents not to stop the education of their children.
"People in my village do not understand the value of education. They involve their 10-12 year old children in earning money so I teach them for an hour every day. For me, the purpose of education is not getting a job only. I think every child must have at least basic knowledge of maths and reading and they know what is good for them or what is not," Sarita told Gaon Connection.
This story has been done as part of a partnership with Transform Rural India Foundation.