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A class apart

Poor kids get enriched through endeavour to impart quality education.

Written by Srinath Rao |
October 14, 2012 2:35:42 am

Poor kids get enriched through endeavour to impart quality education

Celebrations were in place for students of Class V in a Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) English medium school recently. The entire class mastering ‘fractions’ in the mathematics class was the reason. “We celebrate milestones in learning,” explained teacher Trupti Abhyanakar.

For the past three academic years,Teach for India (TFI) fellows have been teaching children at Gumpha Road English Medium School,a BMC school in Jogeshwari East. Before beginning the class,the fellows learn about their students and teach accordingly.

Children from the poorer sections of society in areas around Meghwadi are thriving on the dynamism the fellows from TFI,an NGO,have brought to the classroom.

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The fellow are trained in Pune and then assigned a school in Mumbai. Sahil Sood,who is now the TFI City Director for Hyderabad,first took over a class of 56 in 2009. “Sahil bhaiya used to teach us spelling using sounds,like ba – a – t for bat. He was a really good teacher,” said Jayesh (12) of his former instructor.

Sood was followed in 2011 by Vatsala Deora and Radhika Kamat . While Deora is completing the second year of her fellowship in Delhi,Kamat (21) now shares her class with Abhyankar (22). “I like Radhika didi. She goes home and reads about social reformers each night and tells us stories about them in class the next day,” says 10-year-old Shruti. “I want to be a teacher when I grow up,” she adds shyly.

Headmistress Kalpana Verma said the fellows have made decent progress,although she does not term it a turnaround for students. “We have to understand that some of our children come from single parents and abusive families. Parents often causally admit to having severely hit their children. For us,it is important to make the children forget what they endure at home before they enter the classroom and the TFI fellows have been good at this. We need the kind of enthusiasm they bring into the classroom,” she said.

Verma insists that having not done a conventional BEd course is not a hindrance for the young teachers. “They are not raw when they come in. I think they are aware of and sensitized to the challenges they would face when beginning work at a BMC school. They are pretty polished in that sense,” she says.

According to her,their biggest achievement is that they have managed to turn children into fluent speakers of English. Other children around them are beginning to follow their example,she said.

The key lies in getting to know the children before plunging into classes. This period of acclimatization and familiarity is backed by a plan. “We prepare a plan for each unit that includes what we will do in class each day,going down how each half-hour session will be broken down into,” said Abhyankar.

The emphasis according to Kamat has to be on getting to know the children. “I spent six months getting to know my children. There are children with behavioural and learning disabilities in my class and my first year was very difficult. They have definitely calmed down this year. And just because these are kids from poor backgrounds and are labelled backbenchers and difficult,we can’t set low academic standards,” she said.

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