Education of opportunity deprived children!

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Respected Hon'ble Minister of Human Resource Development, Shri Prakash Javadekar Ji,

We want to bring to your notice some true stories of the opportunity deprived children and their issues:

1. A rural underprivileged boy gets a seat in a reputed English Medium CBSE school under the RTE quota. But the boy struggles to learn at the expected pace and ends up with an E2 grade in the 5th std. According to the Psychological Assessment Report by All India Institute of Speech & Hearing, Mysuru (AIISH), his IQ is 100, but the academic level is 1st std. Yet, he is promoted to 6th std. as per the RTE rules. His age is 11 years. Without the prerequisite basics, will this child be able to grasp the lessons of 6th std?

What is the future of such children, who are suffering from academic lags?

2. A rural underprivileged boy drops out of the school after 2nd std. At the age of 12 years, he regains an interest for studies.By this time, he has forgotten whatever little he had learned in the school. If he joins age-appropriate 7th std, in the mainstream school, will he be able to follow the lessons? If he is integrated with knowledge-appropriate 2nd std, will it not be a humiliation for him?

Is there a right school for this boy? What is the future of such School-dropouts?

3. Compulsions of life make a poor illiterate widow, to send her 8-year-old daughter to take care of a one-year-old infant. Mother of that infant treats the girl very well and allows the girl to watch TV all the time. So, after a year, the child is happy and refuses to go to any school.

Does our education system cater to such child labourers who are disinterested in studies?

4. A boy belonging to a socially marginalized society attends the school regularly. Due to various factors, the boy cannot learn at the expected pace and suffers from an academic lag of more than 3 years. Clinical psychologist of All India Institute of Speech & Hearing, Mysuru (AIISH) identifies the condition as learning difficulty and advises to teach him as per the learning pace of the child.

For the dyslexic children, there is a film, “Taare Zameen Par”. But is there a school?

All these children are now studying in our free non-formal learning center, Kaliyuva Mane [Home for Learning]. This center is run by a charitable organization, Divya Deepa Charitable Trust.

We are very happy, excited and would like to share with you the success of our new education model. Our non-formal learning center is located in Kenchalagudu village on the outskirts of Mysore. Our center is now home for about 100 opportunity deprived children, like Rural children with academic lag, Rural first generation learners from BPL families, Children from turbulent backgrounds, School drop-outs & Child labourers, Dyslexic children etc..,

Unfortunately, our mainstream education system works on the assumption that all children are like machines who can learn a predetermined textual content, in a predetermined time interval and in a predetermined way. But the truth is, children have varied emotions, varied learning abilities and varied interests. A single educational model doesn't cater to all the categories of children.

Children are happily learning in our non-formal learning center. Alternative education as per the needs of the children is provided to all. We believe in the philosophy, "School for Children, NOT Children for School". Hence we follow child-centric approach and bend the rules that main-stream schools follow, to suit the educational and emotional needs of children.

Here are some of the deviations from the mainstream schools that we follow:

a. Admissions round the year, as a dropped-out child can regain interest at any point in the year.

b. Abolition of grades: Flexible teams of children based on knowledge, emotional acceptability and age.

c. Individualistic curriculum, taking into consideration the academic lag and the learning pace of the child.

d. Evaluation: Regular informal tests rather than memory-testing long duration annual exams.

e. Medium of Instruction: We teach children in both Kannada & English Medium. Core subjects like Maths, Science and Social are used initially as a means to teach the English component in the subject and then the subject component

f. Congenial Environment of utmost importance to emotions. A happy mind learns faster.

Once a child acquires the prerequisite basics in all subjects, he/she appears for the 10th standard board examination as a private candidate. Parents or guardians of the children have given us a written consent for joining their children.

Till date, 45 out of 47 children who have appeared for 10th std board examinations from our center have cleared the examination. 3 dyslexic children have also passed this coveted exam.

But we lack recognition as a 'School' from the Government, as we are following an alternative approach to education.

Officers from education department including BEO, DDPI, Text Book Committee chairman, National Curriculum Framework member, have visited our school and have appreciated our alternative approach. Azim Premji Foundation is bringing Government school headmasters, Cluster Resource Persons, Block Resource Persons, Educational co-ordinators from different places of Karnataka, for an exposure visit. Our center is attracting headmasters of Government schools from Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Our idea ‘Education of rural out of system children’ emerged as ‘runners-up idea’ in the grand finale of the event ‘Spark The Rise’, organized by Mahindra & Mahindra and won the prize of Rs 20 lakhs.

When the Infosys Founder, Dr. N.R. Narayana Murthy visited Kaliyuva Mane in 2011, he remarked, “I’m so happy to see the wonderful work being done by Mr. Ananth and team to empower the ‘forgotten India’. More power to you!” Millions of opportunity deprived children live in this ‘forgotten India’, even after 70 years of political freedom from foreigners.

Please watch the following video for better understanding of our school model:

www.bit.ly/betterindia_video [A video by The Better India]

On the day of assumption of the office you had remarked, “Why do we lack innovation in India? It’s because we don’t allow questioning – Unless you rebel unless you challenge the status quo, how can you innovate anything?”

Respected Sir, you not only have the heart and mind to change the status quo but also the necessary power. We cordially welcome you to visit our non-formal learning center, ‘Kaliyuva Mane’ along with the policymakers. We are sure, your visit to our school prompts you to revisit the RTE Act - 2009, to include the education of these opportunity deprived children and different alternative education models.

Regards,

Divya Deepa Charitable Trust



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