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Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Games to stories: Campaign helps kids in care centres learn

CCIs house ‘children in need of care and protection’ between the ages of 6 and 18, referred to them by Child Welfare Committees and Juvenile Justice Boards.

Written by Sukrita Baruah | New Delhi |
September 17, 2021 1:51:56 am
The reading campaign is underway at 30 CCIs. (Express Photo: Sukrita Baruah)

For children in 30 Child Care Institutions (CCIs) in Delhi, every afternoon is now devoted to words and numbers through games and activities as part of a reading campaign to build their foundational literacy and numerical abilities.

CCIs house ‘children in need of care and protection’ between the ages of 6 and 18, referred to them by Child Welfare Committees and Juvenile Justice Boards. A baseline assessment conducted across all the CCIs in July found that only 52% of children were able to read words in Hindi and 55% were able to identify two-digit numbers.

The campaign was launched by the Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights, along the lines of the Delhi government’s Mission Buniyaad. Instructors have been trained by NGO Pratham.

At Khushi Rainbow Home for Girls, 41 of the 58 girls were found to be at the beginner level. Within this, they have been divided into three levels each for Hindi and Maths — those who cannot identify letters, cannot build words, cannot read a paragraph or story; and those who cannot identify numbers, who cannot add and subtract numbers, and cannot multiply and divide them. Through a 40-day intervention, instructors are to create weekly plans and work on weekly goals.

Last week, the goal for those who cannot build words was to help them differentiate between similar-looking and sounding letters. In the colourful resource room, on the day The Indian Express visited, the teacher was teaching the girls to differentiate between ‘sh’ and ‘s’ letters. In the next room, one of the dormitories, the teacher had drawn out a detailed storyboard for five students, to help them with basic addition through storytelling. These five students are children with special needs, who are a separate group of their own for this campaign.

“In the beginning, there was no separate group for special needs children. But in the first few days of implementing the campaign, we found that if the point is to work with children at different learning levels and address different learning abilities, the five children’s needs will also have to be addressed separately,” said Shalu Sharma, support person for the campaign at the centre.

According to centre supervisor Arti Sharma, children residing there include those rescued from life on the street, orphans, children of a single parent who could not support them, and victims of child sexual abuse.

A 14-year-old girl was found to be of beginner level, having difficulty in forming words. “I do my school online classes on the computers in the morning. But I like these afternoon classes, I like playing the games,” she said, adding that she really wants to work on her English.

“The campaign is currently being run in South and Southeast districts with over 500 children. It will be scaled up to other districts too,” said Sanskriti Shree, a fellow with the DCPCR.

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