As per UNICEF, children have a right to an education, a quality education . Gender sensitive education, child centric education as well as basic life and math skills are some of basic requirements for quality education. Milaan – Be The Change, founded in 2007, is the organization which focuses on these thematic areas through its programs like Milaan Outreach Program and Swarachna School (a community school based out of village of Kantain Amberpur nearby the town of Sidhauli in Sitapur district of central Uttar Pradesh). As part of India Fellow program, i am currently contributing towards Milaan’s mission by supporting Swarachna School where I work as teacher as well as supporting few processes in design, development and implementation part. Swarachna school is currently recognized by UP Board upto 12th.
As part of enhancing student’s overall learning experience at school, we have developed a house system under which students from 1st to 12th are divided in 4 groups i.e. Houses. Each house is given responsibility for a themes (discipline, cleaning, health & hygiene and assembly) for a week for which they are being scored on daily basis. Students also participate in inter house events. In addition to this, we have selected few student representatives through a selection process who will be responsible for publishing of monthly newsletter of Swarachna School.
One of challenging tasks that I faced here at first in Swarachna was teaching. It took me a while to understand about learning style of students here. While i cannot say i have completely understood student’s learning style, I have better understanding. Another challenge that I face is in creating a sense of ownership of processes among the stakeholders.
Another challenge that I faced and still facing during implementation of House system is creating a sense of discipline in terms of delegation of work. It is important for people to follow this as I have come to understand is that it is always good to have some kind of systematic delegation in a system to work and disciplining stakeholders of same. It is crucial for stakeholders to feel a sense of contribution to process and crucial for sustenance and evolution of processes themselves for which disciplined delegation of work seems to be one of the answers. We have tried to strengthen this system of delegation of work with documented responsibilities and review meetings to mitigate this issue.
A challenge that I think that we continue to face at Swarachna is learning level of students. Through Student Publication Club and its focus on improvement of student’s reading and writing skills, we hope to get some good output by the end of my fellowship year and beyond.
Parents of most of our students are working very hard for earning their livelihood with very low efficiency in terms of skills and hence wages. It is very hard for them to focus on their child’s studies. This becomes even worse in case of girl students where seemingly ignorance of parents has put them in even worse cases. For example, one of the villager (local Halwaai) does not want to invest much on her daughter’s education as he thinks she needs to be educated till 12th only.
However, it must be noted despite rough situations, some students mostly girls are doing really well in their academics. However, student’s performance at Swarachna very often correlates well with family support. One of the 12th class girl who tops in the class has a really supportive family from my impressions of her family while another girl of same caliber in same class (as per me) seems to be on downside of her academics as her family does not seem to be interested in her education. I at Swarachna try to do my best in encouraging her but I think there is some lack of more effort either on my or her family’s front!
Past 3 months, I have met a some youngsters who have passed out of Swarachna and gone for graduations. They themselves say that just because of Swarachna, children from their villages have become literate with few of them even pursuing their post graduation.
On a personal note, I feel settled in the village life – a sane, peaceful and happening life. As of now, I live in Swarachna School along with our Gatekeeper. It is quite a funny scenario here, when you know that you have to be ready for school before 8:30 am else students may come visit you. Villagers here are just fine while many invite me for feast which I most often go to as food they serve is really good 😊
It was quite a sudden decision last year when I decided not to pursue further studies / research work after engineering but to prepare for civil services examination conducted by UPSC. I was sure about my decision but was quite unsure about my future path. I realized there were several competencies that I needed in order to become a good civil servant, one of these competencies that I lacked and always had a special place in my heart was working at grassroots as well as improving my interpersonal skills. Despite some failures and successes, I finally decided to go for this fellowship. I think it was most probably best choice for me at that time. As it is my first job, i feel quite satisfied with the fact that i get to learn a lot about work and myself here at Swarachna. I also see myself evolving here.
Here I would like to take a pause to show my deepest gratitude to all staffs at Swarachna, Milaan, my friends, my mentors and my dearest parents to help me evolve more and more every day. In the end, I would like to keep faith and hope for things to evolve more and more every day for the best at Swarachna.