Vibha – DSS Workshop – Day 2 – Field visits and more

Vibha-DSS Outreach Workshop was a 3 day event being organized by Vibha in collaboration with Door Step School in Pune, India from Dec 6 – Dec 8 2012. This post summarizes the second day of the event.

The first half of the second day was reserved for field trips by the participating teams to various DSS sites across the city.

Generally, these schools are set up at small centers provided by the builders next to the construction site. While some of these centers have facilities like plastered rooms, attached washrooms, water supply and electricity connection; other might be based out of make-shift rooms, constructed out of tin-foils, which lack even the very basic requirements. These schools are run based on a cost-sharing model between DSS and the builder. The participants got to experience the nitty-gritty’s of running a school at such locations. Each group of participants was accompanied by a member of DSS to inform them about various on the ground realities and respond to their queries.

The children, as expected, were elated to see visitors. DSS representatives began by briefing the participants about the methodology adopted to recruit teachers and train them. DSS has developed specific teacher training and soft-skills development modules for this purpose. Teaching these kids is a daunting task, given the educational background and varied cultures of the students. The school we visited had children from Karnataka, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh. The teachers need to take special care that different students might have different educational backgrounds and they customize their lessons in accordance to that. It is worth noticing that these children get no more than 6 months to be at one site. Post that, they move along with their families to newer locations. Not only does this makes it tough for DSS to track each child, but also presents the challenge of imparting the very basic skill-sets within a frame of six months. After introductions, the teachers showed participants various educational aids developed by DSS. These aids covered various topics – including Hindi or Marathi alphabets, grammar, sentence construction, science, basic arithmetic and general knowledge. The participants were left with enough time to spend some quality time with the kids.

All of us headed back to YMCA for the post-lunch session. The next two sessions revolved around the quintessential topic of Right to Education. Under this scheme, the Government of India has described the modalities of the importance of free and compulsory education for children aged 6 to 14. However, it also lays down specific guidelines – with regard to infrastructure, teacher-to-student ratio, teacher training, timings, etc – for institutions which are imparting education. Post its implementation, it is feared that many NGO run schools across the country might be deemed illegal owing to the fact that not all requirements, as laid down by the law, will be met by them. The first session was conducted by Maneesh Pandey, Chief Functionary – GSK. Though fairly technical, the talk revolved around various clauses of the law and how each of them might impact on-the-ground educational activities conducted by the participating organizations. Next, Rajani Tai took a session on how NGOs could find a middle path and work along with the respective local governments in helping improve the educational scenario at grassroots. She correctly pointed out that the public infrastructure, in its current form, will be insufficient to cater to the rise in demand for educational facilities, if NGO run schools were to close down.

The last session of the day was conducted by Jayshree Joglekar [Director – DSS], during which she talked about various initiatives taken by DSS. This included – Project Foundation [ Balwadi, Study classes, Non-formal education, Child care center, School transport and School on wheels], Project Grow With Books [Reading class program and Home lending program] and Community learning centers. She also presented certain statistics regarding the current status of DSS schools – the number of associated builders, operational sites, other upcoming sites, etc.

The participants were looking forward to the last day of the workshop, during which, various members of the DSS core committee would share different aspects of the EAC model.

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