Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Achievement of Education for all

It’s a known fact that peasants in the country are facing many problems since ages, they are in debts, can’t repay the loans, interest on the taken loans growing day by day and much more. Hopeless peasants are committing suicide and others are migrating in search of work. The migrant labours are mostly employed in construction work. According to 2010 census, there are 29.8% population living with less than $1.25 wage per day.
Children of laborers:
There is a saying - ‘doctor child becomes a doctor, actor child becomes an actor and a labor child will become a labor’. The kid of a laborer is exposed to sand and cement at an early age, as their parents accompany their children to the work place. As a result, these kids get used to construction work environment, which in turn leads them to future labours at early teens. Some elder kids stay at home to take care of their younger siblings and doing household chores.

Considering some sample families of migrant labours - a 2 dozen families live in a tin shed dwelling near Hitech city, Hyderabad. The sheds were laid by a construction group as temporary shelter for the labourers. People in this community range from North to South of India who came to Hyderabad in search of work. Kids of these people are out of school; they’re spending their childhood on the roads or doing household chores. When I approached their parents, I realised that some parents want their children to support the family by doing the same labour work.
Last from right is Bittu of 10 years old. 
They are migrants from MP state. Bittu’s parents are labours, they go to work at 8am and return at 5pm. Meanwhile, he looks after his two siblings of age 5 years and 2 years. He also cooks, washes utensils, cleans the house etc. However, he never been to school; his parents are not interested to send him school.

 But there are some parents want to send their kids to school; they want to give their children good quality of living. It’s really good to see a positive mindset in few parents though.
 From first left is Yasmine, age 10 years. 
She is a school dropout and a single parent. I urged and guided her mother to give her child good education she deserves. She came forward to join her girl in the school.
The New Blue Dress’, a beautiful story of a pretty girl who inspires everyone in her community. Similarly, Yasmine, inspired other kids in the neighbourhood. Two more kids have joined the school with little guidance and information provided by us.

Government is pumping a lot funds through a number of schemes for educating the kids under RTE. Most the people in the country are unaware of the benefits they deserve. It’s the duty of every responsible citizen, that if they encounter any boy or girl out of school approach their parents and tell them the benefits of going to school. With little research give some list of schools nearby. It might inspire them; perhaps they will send the child to school. It’ll cost some productive time of your daily schedule, but you can make a difference in the lives of the little buds of our nation. 
We need to inspire and stimulate the parents of  so many Bittu's in this world. I agree, there are some NGO's working towards it. But it's the part of every citizen to work towards the achievement of Education for all*

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Learning strategies

What is learning?
“Learning is change in behavioral process” – Psychology

“Learning is acquisition of knowledge or skills through experience, practice, or study, or by being taught” – Wikipedia dictionary

Everyone processes and learns new information in different ways. There are three main cognitive learning styles: visual, auditory and kinesthetic. The common characteristic of each learning style is listed below –

Visual:


  • Uses visual objects such as graphs, charts, pictures and seeing information
  • Can read body language well and has  a good perception of aesthetics
  • Able to memorize and recall various information
  • Tends to remember things that are written down
  • Learns better in lecture by watching them

Auditory:


  • Retains information through hearing and speaking
  • Often prefers to be told how  to do things and then summarizes the main points out loud to help with memorization
  • Notices different aspects of speaking
  • Often has talents in music and may concentrate better with soft music playing in the background

Kinesthetic:


  • Likes to use  the hands-on use in learning new material
  • Is generally good in math and science
  • Would rather demonstrate how to do something rather than verbally explain it
  • Usually prefers group work more than others

General Learning strategies menu:

Task based strategies: USE WHAT YOU KNOW
Strategy
Description
Use background knowledge
I know


àthink about and use what you already know to help you do the task

àmake associations
Make inferences
Use clues
àUse context and what you know to figure out meaning.

àRead and listen between the lines

Make predictions
Crystal ball

àAnticipate information to come

àMake logical guesses about what will happen
Personalize
Me

àRelate new concepts to your own life, that is, to your experiences, knowledge, beliefs and feelings
Transfer / use cognates
Telephone/

Telepfono/
Telefon
Telefon

àapply your linguistic knowledge of other languages (including your native language) to the target knowledge

àRecognize cognates
Substitute paraphrase
Spare tire

àThink of a similar word or descriptive phrase of words you do not know in the target language

Monday, September 30, 2013

Seasonal visit with new volunteers

We, EFF team, visit our distant schools once in 3 months, to check the progress of our virtual classroom teaching. This year, the first visit was paid on 21st Sep’13. The trip was wonderful with our new set of volunteers from different backgrounds. Here is the list:
  • Sai Sudher - Sr.Software Engg.
  • Santosh  - Graphic designer
  • Basha - Works with Telecommunications
  • Azeez - Works with Telecommunications
  • Bharadwaj - Graphic desinger
  • Anupama - a BTech student
Probably, students won’t get a chance to meet people from various work fields in the school. It’s our privilege to offer guidance of these techies to the students at least once a while. The students and volunteers, gained knowledge and had fun together.
Bharadwaj, with class-7TM students. He was so attached to the students that he continued the class from morning to evening.

Sai Sudheer, interacting with 8EM students about careers guidance.

Basha, with 9EM students, engaged in a classroom activity – “What will you do if you become the C.M.?”

Santosh, with 8TM - introducing 2D art with simple cylinders, cones and circles.

Anupama, engaged in a classroom activity with 8TM. 

Sudha, teacher, with 6EM students; giving rating for their speaking skills.

Me with 6TM students; pupils giving a speech on self introduction!

The students of 6th std are lagging too far behind in comprehending English. It’s obvious, they are from vernacular medium. We make our teaching child-centered which enhance their speaking skills in English. I am sure that these students will pick up English communication by the end of the year.

 EFF team conveys a big THANKS to all the volunteers for spending their valuable time and sharing knowledge with the students.

Abbreviations:
TM – Telugu medium
EM – English medium

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Fear of Public Speaking

Veena is a girl of class VI. Her mind is no less than an active volcano-her ideas flow out like hot magma, , she has creative thoughts and comes up with numerous solutions to the problems in the society.  She is a courageous girl but there is something which is holding her back-her nervousness! She is afraid of speaking in public, raising her voice against the odds in the community.   There was an occasion in the school; pupils from each class were invited to give a speech at a school function. Veena wanted to take part in it, but her stage fear kept her from it.


There are so many Veenas in each school, who are willing to be a speaker, however, their nervousness is a thing of major concern. Need of the hour is to motivate and inspire the pupils. After all, it’s the duty of the teachers and parents to make their children overcome social anxiety. Teachers can share some great inspiring stories, videos of famous speakers, does and don’ts in a speech etc.

Elocution competition @ Red Cross Govt Girls High School
Whenever, I announce ‘elocution’ competition in the school, just two or three pupils sign up for it, or they convert it to essay writing. But for this Independence Day, I was seriously committed to draw more students to speak up. We’d taken a session prior to the competition, on ‘what is elocution?’ with does and don’ts. The YouTube videos shown to them were inspiring and made 35 students sign up for the competition (Link for the video). 

Common mistakes in elocution:

  • By-heart - Pupils often mug up the content of the speech, which leads to pauses in between in efforts to recollect.
  • Middle drop - Some pupils forget the content and drop the speech midway.
  • Appealing - some folks start to speak with full promise but fail to end the speech on a high note.
  • Voice – Non audible voice leads to poor grades, especially in rooms without a microphone.
  • Body language – pupils lean to the table with slightly crossed legs, fold their hands, which gives a poor gesture. Eye contact – pupils stare at pillars, windows, doors or some students will close their eyes, these show poor confidence levels of speakers.
  • Hesitation – when we call a pupil’s name, they request the teacher to postpone their number after two students. It shows their lack of readiness as a speaker.
  • Anxiety – Inspired students come with full enthusiasm, they start the speech with high pitch, however, the anxiety develops in them more than required, which leads to sweating and nervousness that makes them drop the speech abruptly.
  • Irrelevant – over confident students come without any preparation. Initially the speech may seem to be good, but later, they resort to irrelevant points in an attempt to make up for lack of ideas.
  • Imitate – some pupils have tried to imitate the girl shown in the video. However, it didn’t work after 30 seconds. They had to fall back on their individual styles. To learn from a motivational speech is good but we shouldn’t attempt to blindly copy and go against our unique approaches.
  • Statistics – gathering information about a topic needs a lot of homework. Statistical data, though difficult to remember at times, are important while substantiating a claim.
  • Time-limit – some students prepare so well that they go on speaking with no regards to the time limit. This causes the audience to get bored and lose interest.
  • Stage fear* –Stage Fear is common irrespective of whether it’s an LKG or a Ph.D student. It is quite prevalent in famous personalities as well. Even we teachers feel anxious while addressing a school gathering. There is no ointment for this fear, but practice and presence of mind.

Here are some snaps of the elocution competition:

Faseeha Noor, class-7; she is the first girl to come forward and initiate the competition.

Nikitha Bai, Class-X. She started her speech with high pitch and good diction. However, she dropped off in the middle owing to anxiety and nervousness.

Sony, Class-IX.

Shaima, Class-VIII. She gave a brief speech with good data.

Related posts:


Thursday, July 11, 2013

Child marriage

Summer vacation is a long rest for teachers as everyone says, but it is not so. As a teacher, it’s a really boring phase of the year as teachers are always concerned about their students – teaching, interacting and conducting activities etc. All the summer vacation I was waiting for the month of June to meet my students… went to the school on a Saturday with lots of enthusiasm. However, the visit made me sad and disheartened. I heard that five of our students from ninth and tenth standards got married in summer. “It’s all due to parental pressure that they had to agree for the wedding” explained their classmates sadly.

One of the girls has got married before board exams; however, she fought with her in-laws and wrote the exams. It shows how challenging it is for these girls to pursue higher studies in the future.
 Most of the students belong to families where the parents are illiterates and slum dwellers. In a typical Indian lower middle-class family, girl children are seen as “bojh” (burdens) on the parents’ shoulders. They want to get off their girl child by making them tie the knot with a person who would give them security. Parents hardly care about the opinions of girls about marriage, thus they often have to sacrifice their happiness to satisfy their parents and be a good, obedient daughter.

 Parental views on girl child marriage –
  • We are worried about the society. They point fingers at us if we do not marry off our girl child even after her schooling.
  • I have five children, my daughter is the oldest, and we have to perform her wedding immediately after seventh standard. We have four more daughters lined up for wedding.
  • We really want to send our girl child to pursue higher studies, but we are afraid that she might side-track, fall in love or marry against our wishes etc. To be on safer side it would be good to perform her wedding after tenth standard. If her in-laws agree, she will continue her studies.
  • My daughter got a nice match (groom). So though she is in tenth standard, we are ready to perform her wedding. She might not get a guy like this, and they are asking nominal (two – three lakhs cash+ home appliances + a motorbike) dowry.

Majority of Indians belong to the above-mentioned category. Child marriage is still prevalent in every corner of the state and this is the reason we are seeing constant child mortality rate from past many years (for more info). Also Indian women are more anemic compared to other countries. 

These all are known facts and are being debated since ages, but the reformation of perception is very slow. The only missile to dismantle these social evils is education. If every parent is educated, we wouldn’t see such cases. Here’s hoping the future generation, being more educated, would take an active role in doing away with such practices.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Toilets are a must for every school


Recently, the Supreme Court has ordered all the schools to provide basic infrastructure in less than 6 months. For more info - Toilets must in all govt schools.

It means that we still have no proper basic infrastructure in our schools or educational institutes even after 66 years of independence. Central and state governments are pumping money through several schemes every year; but where is the fund going (into scams)?

Well, here I would like to jot down some experiences since my childhood –
Being a student of a government institution, I can explain the conditions first hand. The school which I studied in was an aided school, but the standards were equal to any other govt school. I can’t find words to explain the condition of our washrooms. It was more horrific than any horror movie I have seen. We used to consume less water in order to avoid going to the toilets. We never dared to complain about the situation to our school management (as they already knew). For them, all that mattered were taking classes and completing the syllabus which, in themselves, were big challenges.

Coming to some local private schools - they collect five to six hundred rupees as fee from each student per month, but the basic amenities are not up to the mark. I worked as a teacher in a private school; the school has a big building but devoid of  playgrounds or campus area. The school has good strength with four hundred plus students. Pupils often fight among themselves during intervals or break times. If you say it is quite common for fights to break out over petty issues in every school, you would be surprised to know the reason here. They fight for toilets! The school has constructed just three washrooms for 400+ students. Being a co-ed school, there’s only one toilet for boys, one for girls and the third is for the staff. 

Private schools have at least three washrooms with 200:1 ratio, but there are some govt schools which are running successfully without toilets in the school campus. Here, I draw the example from one of my friend, Mrs.Shyamala, an SGT (Secondary Grade Teacher) at a Govt Primary school, near LB Nagar, a few kilometers from Hyderabad. “Children are sent to their homes to answer nature’s calls, but students, especially girls, coming from faraway places have to reign in their bladders till evening.  Though we repeatedly asked the area MEO (Mandal Revenue Officer) and sent letters to DEO (District Education Officer) to sanction funds to construct toilets, the response is not satisfying”, she sadly explained.
Well, it's ridiculous that we teachers have to train girl children on how to control their bladders in order to avoid nature's calls. I appeal to actress, Vidya Balan , to produce an ad to show the importance of sanitation not only at home but also in the school.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

A school on the foot path


It seems strange when we hear about schools on the footpaths; but there are some schools running successfully this way, educating the kids of poor families. One such school is ‘Alpha school’, located near Jubilee Hills. The school caters to the underprivileged children with primary school education for free of cost. Parents of these children work as maids in the nearby bungalows and some work as laborers at construction sites.
The school has no pucca roof but a small shed on the footpath to shelter the kids from sun and rain.

The school emerged from the thought of a woman, Ms.Shoba Rani. The school is running successfully with good number of students and teachers for 12 long years.

An age old saying, “Helping hands are better than praying lips”; truly implemented by Ms.Shoba Rani. Daily we pass by so many kids on the roadside, feel pity for them or blame the government, but hardly think of any instant solution. This is a live example to solve things in possible ways…  

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Invigilation duty


I have got a chance to invigilate annual examinations for high school. The most boring job in the world is invigilation. It’s a big pain in the knees, neck and eyes- we need to stand and roam around the exam hall continuously for 2 and a half hours; keep eye on every student and turn both directions frequently. I have been seeing this stereotypical practice since my childhood.
Its physical science exam, pupils are literally bewildered at questions given in the paper.


Absolute silence in the school can be seen only during exams!


Discussing the questions with their peers, in front of a hawk eye invigilator! 

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Exam Season


February, March and April are peak months for educational institutions in a country like India. Students, teachers, institutions from secondary to university level will gear up in preparing for the final assessments. The litmus test is not only for students but also for teachers and institutions.

Practical exams:

From junior to senior intermediate and under graduates to post graduates have to undergo practical exams before they appear for final exams. Usually these practical exams will be held in mid-February. Whereas, schools don’t have such kind of exams since practical exams are not required for elementary level- a written assessment as a  final exam is the mandate, though it has many loopholes.

Pre-finals:

Prior to the final exams the students have to undergo some mock tests which are named ‘pre-finals’. It is a compulsory exam which is held in the school campus itself. These exams are about pupils practicing the model test papers, revising the things learnt and removing the fear of exams.
However, it has some drawbacks as well- many schools finish their syllabi before the New Year and conduct as many as five to six mock tests. Pupils get fed up writing the exams continuously for two months and as a result they develop an apathy towards exams.  Also, students complain that they waste their precious time in appearing for mock exams which could be utilized in preparation for the finals. 

The identification:

Hall-ticket:

A piece of paper with an 8 to 10 digit unique number will be issued to every student who are going to write the public exams. The exam venue will be printed on those tickets usually.

Exam center:

Pupils will be waiting for the hall-ticket to check their exam centers, wishing their exam centers would be near to their locality in order to minimize travel time.
On the other hand, some students with a disposition towards cheating will calculate the probability of malpractice in the exam depending upon the exam centers. It’s a bitter fact that some exam centers are famous for such malpractices, where the invigilators themselves supply answers to the students.

Need of the hour is change in exam pattern, and assure 100% transparency in invigilation. 

From the EFF team, we wish good luck to all the students appearing for their Public Exams…! 


Friday, February 8, 2013

Walkathon

A recent survey unveiled that there are around 793 million adult illiterates in the world- mostly from third world countries. Out of which, two thirds are women[Source: Wikipedia]. According to 2011 census, Andhra Pradesh (A.P.) stands 24th in literacy ranking out of 28 states in India. It’s a huge 7% difference compared to the national’s 74.04%. A.P.’s government has come up with many programs to eradicate illiteracy; however the progress is languishing at a snail’s pace.

We, the EFF team initiated an event-Walkathon, supported by PurpleTalk Inc, with a cause: ‘EDUCATE A CHILD’. The walk was about appealing to people of the nation to educate a child as a contribution to society. Here ‘educating’ doesn’t mean we have to go to a class and teach; there are so many ways to volunteer towards eradicating illiteracy from the nation, such as–          
·         Sponsor a child’s education.
·         Adopt a classroom.
·         Counsel parents of the drop outs.
·         Organize education awareness programs in slums/rural areas.
·         People passionate about teaching can teach students remotely using technology.
·         Visit a school nearby to figure out their problems.


Along with EFF one more NGO joined the event, it is ‘MAD’ (Make a Difference) which is working towards empowering underprivileged children through education.

Details of the event:
Date: 25-Jan-2013
Time: 4pm onwards
Venue: KBR Park, Banjara Hills, Hyderad
Pamphlet


Snaps from the event: 
In front of KBR Park
Giving a brief explanation about EFF and MAD


Volunteers cheering J


Busy bees take out time to join the walk!


And that was a never ending line; people were joining in at every corner of the walk!


Distributing the pamphlets to passersby


No one can stop us!


And that was a fantastic evening, with pleasant climate!


Everyone had a lot of fun along with the walk! 





Thursday, January 10, 2013

Read India


What do you present a kid on his/her birthday? A doll, a playing kit, an automated toy etc. If you ask me, I would definitely suggest books as the best option to gift. Indeed, the competitions or quizzes we organize on behalf of EFF, we prefer to gift books rather than items or trophies since we have observed pupils in the rural as well as in urban areas are largely unable to afford books apart from those prescribed in their academic courses.
Reading is the best way to acquire a language. Students from underprivileged and middle classes in our country are distributed free text books by the government of India. Therefore, they have access to their text books. We have many students in the nation who crave to read more. Unfortunately, many schools have no libraries and those which do have them lack good collections of attractive books. On the other hand, modernization and access to information on the internet has adversely affected the importance of libraries both in rural and urban areas. Then how can we quench the thirst of reading in students belong to economically backward classes?

 To develop reading skills in students a NGO named ‘Pratham books’ has come forward with a noble cause – ‘a book in every child’s hand’.


About Pratham Books:

At Pratham Books, we believe that every child has the right to enjoy good books.  And we believe they should have stories set in surroundings familiar to them and in a language close to their culture. We believe that to make books accessible to every child, the price points have to be very low. Pratham Books is a brand of story books as Indian as the children who read them. As a not-for-profit publisher, our dream is to see a country where every child wants to read, is able to read, and has something good to read.
Click here for more info - 

some cover pages of the online books


Thank you Pratham Books : )
We EFF team are grateful to Pratham books, who gave us access to their online titles. The books are nicely designed with attractive illustrations that will appeal to any age group. Simple language, fewer lines in paragraphs, good story line and great quality slides which draw the students interest. Currently, we’re using online story slides converting it to ppt to show in the virtual classroom. Vernacular medium students found it very easy to read with fascinating pictures. The stories depict the typical Indian family background and culture.