Monday, April 3, 2017

Connecting Schools and Parents through Meetings

Involving parents in their child's education is a challenging task. The Every Child Counts (ECC) team organizes frequent meetings and programmes for parents, at communities and in schools. The objective is creating awareness among parents about education, explaining school admission process to them, and answering their queries and doubts about children and schools.

Initially, ECC team conducted these meetings only on community level. However, with increasing participation and support from school authorities, these meetings are now being conducted inside the schools. This helps parents in knowing the school environment where their children will be going every day and it also helps them interact with teachers directly.

In the Haveli Block of Pune District, ECC team is conducting meetings for parents at Zilla Parishad schools. The Block Education Officer Ms. Jyoti Parihar Madam is personally attending these meetings to interact with parents. She is trying to understand their challenges, whether they are getting proper support from school or not, and also if there are any other requirements. Recently these meetings were conducted at Bakori ZP school and Kesnand ZP School. The meeting at Kesnand school was also attended by Hon. Sarpanch of the village and members of school management committee.

This serves as a platform for the parents to express their experiences and challenges. After talking with the teachers and authorities like BEO, they seem to start feeling positive about school and the entire system. While sharing improvements observed in their children, they felt very excited. Some of them also felt guilty that they are not able to think for their children beyond basic needs due to their struggle for survival. They got very emotional while talking about their children and the help offered by ECC team and school teachers. This has also helped in sensitizing the school teachers about ground level situation and practical challenges before the parents.

The government officer and school teachers appreciated ECC team for their persistent efforts and systematic work. The parents are also thankful to the team for helping their children learn. This kind of experience is a moral booster for the entire team.

Few more meetings will be arranged in this month, to ensure positive turnout from parents and schools in the next academic year.

(Reported by Dattatray Vetal and team, Door Step School, Pune)

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The Picture Is Changing…

In the year 2009-10, Government of India declared free and compulsory elementary education for all children between 6 and 14 years of age, through the Right To Education (RTE) Act. Door Step School (DSS) was already working for education of children in and around Pune city, who were left out of formal schooling system due to various reasons. An opportunity was identified through the RTE Act, to help many out-of-school children in getting enrolled in formal schools. The Every Child Counts (ECC) campaign was thus launched in Pune in year 2011. Surveys were conducted of temporary slums, construction sites, brick kilns, and other such communities where out-of-school children could be found. These children were taken to nearby government schools by creating awareness among their parents. The ECC team also followed up to ensure that these children are attending schools regularly.

Recently, a get-together was organized by Door Step School, for children and parents from migrant communities in Vishrantwadi and Dhanori areas within Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) limits. These children were enrolled in government schools between 2013 and 2015, and they have continued their education through last three years. The team identified 28 such children in this area and approached their parents for the get-together. A total of 18 children and 8 parents attended the programme on Sunday, 5th of March 2017 at Ayyappa Garden, Dhanori. The idea was to appreciate and encourage these children and parents for continuing education despite all odds.

The children spoke about their experience of starting to attend a formal school. Many of them were first generation learners, with no background of education at home. Almost all of them mentioned that they were first afraid of entering a school and did not even know the local language, Marathi, at that time. They were also worried about how other students and teachers would treat them. The new surroundings were daunting and fear of rejection was very real.

One of the children, Renuka, was enrolled in 3rd standard according to her age that time. Initially, she was not at all interested in school as she could not understand anything taught there. However, the teachers helped her overcome the initial hurdles and she has now reached 7th standard. Her parents had to migrate frequently due to nature of their work. But very soon they realized that this is causing disturbance in Renuka’s education. Hence, they took a room in this area on rent so that the family could stay at one place through all these years. Renuka is now very much interested in attending the school and studying various subjects. She wants to become a teacher when she grows up. When asked the reason, she replied that she wants to educate other girls like her and help them become independent!

Gangaram Rathod was also enrolled in 3rd standard in a nearby government school. His parents had migrated from Bihar to Pune in year 2013 in search of employment. Since the family was struggling for survival, education of the child could not be a priority. Even when the ECC team approached these parents for Gangaram’s school admission, they said that we are here only for a short while and will move back to our native place soon. They also kept saying that Marathi is not our language, we will send our children to a school in our village when we move back. The team persistently followed up with the parents and enrolled Gangaram in 3rd standard according to his age that time. The family still lives in Pune and Gangaram is now in 7th standard. This year, we arranged a bicycle for him for commuting to school everyday on his own. His parents are now keen to continue his education. Their job demands them to migrate frequently, but they are now looking for a hostel for Gangaram so that his education is continued. Gangaram aspires to pursue higher education in computer engineering.

There are many other children like Renuka and Gangaram, who needed the initial support to start their education. Now they are fond of school, have learnt and mastered the local language, and have also made local friends. The parents took some time in believing what ECC team was telling them. But eventually they were convinced that only education can bring positive change in their children’s lives. The parents were happy and proud of their children dreaming big and progressing in that direction. They do not want their children to struggle in the same way they have done throughout their life. The parents realize that dreams of their children are too big, but they at least expect them to be skilled workers and get assured jobs instead of being mere labourers on daily wages. The children and parents both are now ready to face any challenges coming in the way.

There were few fun games for the parents at the event. Children were happy to cheer up for their parents, and the parents played and won and fought like children. The get-together also included a storytelling session by Mr. Ajay Dasgupta of The Kahani Project. He gave the children few insights on what they can do today instead of waiting to grow up for doing something. Children and their parents equally enjoyed the story told by Ajay, which taught children how to face and conquer fear. Ajay advised the children to convert their biggest fear into their best friend, so that they can achieve anything in life.

The children continuing their education throughout these years were felicitated along with their parents. The ECC team believes that this kind of interaction helps strengthen the trust and build up the confidence, bringing positive change in parents’ approach towards children’s education.

A similar get-together was organized for another group of children enrolled from Bhosari, Dighi, and Moshi areas in Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) limits. This programme was held on 26th of March 2017 at Bhosari Garden on Pune-Nashik Highway. Around 70 parents and 107 children from 15 locations participated in this event. The parents are daily wage labourers, mostly coming from other states. After persistent efforts by the ECC-PCMC team, the parents have realized importance of education in their children’s lives. In spite of uncertain nature of work, they are now staying at one location since last couple of years, so that their children can continue attending the school they were enrolled into. Even children from highly migrant communities in Phuge Vasti and other areas are now seen regularly going to schools.

Volunteers from Wipro and few other individuals helped the ECC team in organizing games for children and parents at this get-together.

We hope to see many more children get into mainstream of formal education and continue attending schools by overcoming the challenges thrown at them by life. Door Step School is all geared up to help them progress towards achieving their dreams.

(Events organized and reported by: Ravindra Thakare, Gauri Katkar, Sadashiv Satpute, Manjiri Diwe, Sanika Patwardhan, Ankita Yadav, Door Step School, Pune team.)

Friday, March 24, 2017

Get-together of Children in PCMC area

The 'Every Child Counts' (ECC) team is working in Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad (PCMC) cities since year 2011, for survey and enrollment of out-of-school children. We are in touch with children enrolled from Bhosari, Dighi, and Moshi areas between year 2013 and 2015 by ECC PCMC team. A get-together has been organized for these children still continuing their education, and their parents. They will share their experiences and challenges faced by them.​

​​Date:  Sunday, 26th of March 2017
​​Time: 9:30am to 1:00pm
Venue: Bhosari Sahal Kendra, Behind Ankush Landge Sabhagruh, Bhosari, Pune - 18

​Contact Person​s:
Sadashiv: 9921970796 / 8856830884
Manjiri tai: 8600217598 / 7248915899

Do join us in felicitating and encouraging them.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Get-together of ECC Children and Parents

This Sunday, 5th of March 2017,
join us at Dhanori, Pune for
‘Every Child Counts’ Get-together of Children and Parents. 
(The children were enrolled in schools between 2013-2015 and are still continuing their education.)

When: 5th of March 2017, from 10am to 12noon 
Where: Ayyappa Garden, Maharana Pratap Chowk, Bhairav Nagar, Dhanori, Pune 
Contact: Gauritai 9156184776; Ravindra: 9561699464 / 8483815139

Please join us in appreciating and encouraging the children and their parents!

- Door Step School, Pune

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Fun Fair for Children and Parents

Children from migrant families are often seen left out of schools, mainly due to their frequently changing living conditions. We, at Door Step School, try to identify practical difficulties of this section in the society. Different solutions are offered to handle community-specific challenges. It takes considerable time to gain trust of the parents. But once it is achieved, the results are very satisfactory and motivating.

One of our projects focuses on parents' participation in their child's education. We have been working in Baner-Balewadi area with certain groups of migrant families. After repeated visits to their houses and rigorous follow-up meetings, we could convince and help most of the parents in sending their children to schools. But the job is not over just with school admissions. A bigger challenge is to retain the children in schools despite language differences, daily commuting issues, mixed responses from the schools, and such other barriers. We are happy with the results so far in case of these families from Baner-Balewadi area. We decided to arrange a gathering for these people as a follow-up meet on larger scale.

A fun-fair was thus organized on 15th of January 2017, at an open ground in Baner. A small stage was set up for children to dance and play. Door Step School team presented street play on importance of education. Basic sanitation points were discussed with parents and children under WASH activity. All the attendees enjoyed fun activities as well as special snacks items arranged at the fair.

Our team was very well supported by enthusiastic group of volunteers from Wipro, Hinjawadi. They helped us in conducting various activities for parents and children. Local Municipal Corporator Mr. Baburao Chandere and social worker Mr. Lahu Balwadkar helped us in arranging the venue. They visited the fun fair for inauguration.

Around 80 parents and 180 children attended the fun fair. These parents have come to Pune in search of employment, from remote villages in Maharashtra as well as other states like Bihar, Karnataka, and Chhattisgarh. They live around Baner, Balewadi, Pimple Nilakh areas and work on construction sites or other such places on daily wages. The team has been working with them since almost an year now. Most of the children have been enrolled in nearby government schools and all efforts are being taken to retain them there until the families migrate to another location within or outside the city.

(Reported by Harish Phadke, Door Step School)

Monday, December 12, 2016

Connecting the dots...

Over the years, we have come across many self-motivated individuals and groups that are contributing to the cause of education for underprivileged children in the society. Some of them are helping the children learn through classes conducted at community level, some are creating awareness among the parents about importance of education, while some are actually taking the children to nearby formal schools and trying to retain them there. Although all of them are determined and motivated, it is a fact that they are facing many challenges due to limited physical and knowledge resources.

Door Step School is trying to connect the dots by offering knowledge support to such volunteers and groups. As an organization with 25 years of presence in the field of education, Door Step School can provide training and monitoring support, guidance in preparing and using innovative teaching tools, insights on community-level issues, and methods of pulling in other resources.

If you are part of (or know about) any such volunteer groups working (or willing to work) for education of underprivileged children in their area, do connect with us. We would be happy to help for optimum utilization of volunteering resources towards the larger objective of ‘Education for All’…

Write to or call 986-000-8070 for more details.