At a time when the nation is waiting for the New Education Policy (NEP), it makes sense to re imagine the role of communities and families in supporting learning among children. It goes without saying, in a country where education infrastructure is still in the making and public schools are struggling to maintain the right quality of education, community involvement is the only way to fast-track a child’s journey towards self-development.
Shiksha Sarthi, a partnership between Coastal Gujarat Power Ltd (CGPL) and Pratham Foundation has been working in the area of education relentlessly. Under this partnership, Lakhon Mein Ek is a unique program that brings an entire community on a common platform to assess the status of education. The first phase of the program was kick-started by identifying village/community leaders – who worked as the point of contact – across Mandvi and Mundra blocks of Kutch District. With the objective of understanding the challenges and opportunities in education, 147 village leaders spent quality time with government school teachers, parents, students and government officials across 121 villages.
Says a village volunteer, “Today everyone wants to fix India’s education system. What people fail to understand is how it is equally important to see what kind of environment a child comes to after school. Since in many villages all parents are not educated, group learning activities can be highly effective in fulfilling learning requirements of children. This also builds unity among members of a community.”
In second phase of the campaign, village volunteers demonstrated simple activities that can be conducted by children and parents to build basic skills in reading and writing. For example, as part of a ‘Reading week’ in the Mandvi and Mundra Blocks of Kutch District, children were divided into small groups in each mohalla. These groups included children in the age group of 6-14 years, parents and teachers. Besides reading, various groups also engaged in basic mathematical problem solving.
Eventually, village leaders were happy to see this one-day activity – which saw participation of 1,900 children – turn into a daily affair as parents started spending one hour every evening helping their children learn. Also, the material provided by Pratham foundation was of great help in nurturing the learning abilities of the children.