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CARVING A BETTER FUTURE

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Narendra was in Class VII in a community school and was the first kid to go to school from his family. His father Is an auto driver and his mom works as a maid. While his parents wanted him to continue schooling, financial constraints had almost made them discontinue his education.

http://www.deccanherald.com/content/615620/carving-better-future.html

Bindu Gopal Rao, DH News Service,

In 2015, Bengaluru-based organisation Parinaam Foundation counselled his parents and enrolled him into their academic adoption programme. He was admitted to an English medium school and he surprised everyone by being a quick learner. He graduated from Class X with 75%. He is now looking forward to study further and is taking initial steps to break the poverty cycle. This is just one of the many ways by which Parinaam Foundation aims to alleviate poverty.

The foundation engages in holistic interventions focused on education, social development and financial independence for the underprivileged. The endeavour is to create a self-sustaining environment that brings lasting changes to the lives of urban poor. “We work with people who do not have access to basic human necessities. When we start working in the slums, most children are wandering around aimlessly or go to work with their parents. We strive to change this with our interventions. This can range from something as basic as opening a bank account and teaching them how to use it to putting children into school and enabling them to carve a better future,” reveals Mallika Ghosh, executive director, Parinaam Foundation.

Making a difference


The foundation has helped over 800 school-going children in Karnataka, worked with 2,800 families of ultra poor communities in Bengaluru. About 87,000 women and 15,000 children have participated in Diksha, the foundation’s financial literacy programme, across 15 districts of Karnataka. Individual and corporate contributions are the main sources of their funds. “While we have had a fair amount of support through the years, we find that our home city, Bengaluru is not aware of the good work Parinaam does. We believe that if we can get the word out to more people in our city, they will come together to change the lives of the children and the families we work with,” says Mallika.

Parinaam Foundation does not believe that their job ends with just putting a child into school; volunteers go on to support the family with a range of interventions ranging from livelihood development to access to social and financial services, childcare and healthcare.

Take the case of nine-year-old Parvati and her family who live in a slum in Arehalli, Bengaluru. In February 2017, Parvati was diagnosed with a hole in her heart. She needed to undergo a critical surgery which was estimated to cost Rs two lakh. Her parents, Shashikala and Nandish, have a combined monthly income of Rs 12,000. With no access to credit facility, this was not an amount they could afford. “Parinaam Foundation took up the case through the ‘medical intervention programme’ and approached Jayadeva hospital. We applied for the Vajapayee Arogyashree scheme which got approved and the whole surgery cost was borne by the grant,” says Mallika.

Anil Kumar is another school-going child who has benefited from the foundation’s academic adoption programme. “Though my parents don’t earn enough to send me and my siblings to good schools, I always fostered a dream of becoming a software engineer. Through the academic adoption programme, I shifted from the local Kannada medium school to a English medium school in 2014. I am now looking forward to complete my education to make my parents proud and financially secure,” says Anil, who stays in Thubarahalli, Bengaluru with his family.

Mariyamma who lives in a slum in Donnekundi, Bengaluru is another beneficiary. She and her husband were construction labourers and had a combined income of approximately Rs 9,000 per month. She often fell sick due to heavy physical activity and she found it difficult to take her two young kids along with her to work. The foundation counselled her about alternate employment and helped her find a new livelihood. “We were successful in getting her a housekeeping job at a hospital close to her house. At her new place of work, she was entitled to benefits like Provident Funds, Employees’ State Insurance (ESI) and overtime bonus perks. Her family income has now doubled and both her kids now go to school,” says Mallika.

The foundation has worked hard over the years to make sure their programmes are making a difference. “By 2018, we would like to touch over 10,000 poor families in Bengaluru,” reveals Mallika. “We strongly believe that maximum funds should go to the child or beneficiary we are helping. Our programmes should have a long-lasting impact on the families and give the children a much better future.”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

References

www.parinaam.org., DH News Service
posted Jun 6, 2017 by anonymous

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+1 vote

        

Photo Source: World Economic Forum

By- Teresa Belton

https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/09/being-bored-is-good-for-children-and-adults-this-is-why?utm_content=bufferb8f6b&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

From books, arts and sports classes to iPads and television, many parents do everything in their power to entertain and educate their children. But what would happen if children were just left to be bored from time to time? How would it affect their development?

I began to think about boredom and children when I was researching the influence of television on children’s storytelling in the 1990s. Surprised at the lack of imagination in many of the hundreds of stories I read by ten to 12 year-old children in five different Norfolk schools, I wondered if this might partly be an effect of TV viewing. Findings of earlier research had revealed that television does indeed reduce children’s imaginative capacities.

For instance, a large scale study carried out in Canada in the 1980s as television was gradually being extended across the country, compared children in three communities – one which had four TV channels, one with one channel and one with none. The researchers studied these communities on two occasions, just before one of the towns obtained television for the first time, and again two years later. The children in the no-TV town scored significantly higher than the others on divergent thinking skills, a measure of imaginativeness. This was until they, too, got TV – when their skills dropped to the same level as that of the other children.

The apparent stifling effect of watching TV on imagination is a concern, as imagination is important. Not only does it enrich personal experience, it is also necessary for empathy – imagining ourselves in someone else’s shoes – and is indispensable in creating change. The significance of boredom here is that children (indeed adults too) often fall back on television or – these days – a digital device, to keep boredom at bay.

Some years after my study, I began to notice certain creative professionals mentioning how important boredom was to their creativity, both in childhood and now. I interviewed some of them. One was writer and actress Meera Syal. She related how she had occupied school holidays staring out of the window at the rural landscape, and doing various things outside her “usual sphere”, like learning to bake cakes with the old lady next door. Boredom also made her write a diary, and it is to this that she attributes her writing career. “It’s very freeing, being creative for no other reason than that you freewheel and fill time,” she said.

Similarly, well-known neuroscientist Susan Greenfield said she had little to do as a child and spent much time drawing and writing stories. These became the precursors of her later work, the scientific study of human behaviour. She still chooses paper and pen over a laptop on a plane, and looks forward with relish to these constrained times.

Sporting, musical and other organised activities can certainly benefit a child’s physical, cognitive, cultural and social development. But children also need time to themselves – to switch off from the bombardment of the outside world, to daydream, pursue their own thoughts and occupations, and discover personal interests and gifts.

We don’t have to have a particular creative talent or intellectual bent to benefit from boredom. Just letting the mind wander from time to time is important, it seems, for everybody’s mental wellbeing and functioning. A study has even shown that, if we engage in some low-key, undemanding activity at same time, the wandering mind is more likely to come up with imaginative ideas and solutions to problems. So it’s good for children to be helped to learn to enjoy just pottering – and not to grow up with the expectation that they should be constantly on the go or entertained.

How to handle a bored child

Parents often feel guilty if children complain of boredom. But it’s actually more constructive to see boredom as an opportunity rather than a deficit. Parents do have a role, but rushing in with ready-made solutions is not helpful. Rather, children need the adults around them to understand that creating their own pastimes requires space, time and the possibility of making a mess (within limits – and to be cleared up afterwards by the children themselves).

They will need some materials too, but these need not be sophisticated – simple things are often more versatile. We’ve all heard of the toddler ignoring the expensive present and playing with the box it came in instead. For older children, a magnifying glass, some planks of wood, a basket of wool, and so on, might be the start of many happily occupied hours.

But to get the most benefit from times of potential boredom, indeed from life in general, children also need inner resources as well as material ones. Qualities such as curiosity, perseverance, playfulness, interest and confidence allow them to explore, create and develop powers of inventiveness, observation and concentration. These also help them to learn not to be deterred if something doesn’t work the first time, and try again. By encouraging the development of such capacities, parents offer children something of lifelong value.

If a child has run out of ideas, giving them some kind of challenge can prompt them to continue to amuse themselves imaginatively. This could range from asking them to find out what kind of food their toy dinosaurs enjoy in the garden to going off and creating a picture story with some friends and a digital camera.

Most parents would agree that they want to raise self-reliant individuals who can take initiatives and think for themselves. But filling a child’s time for them teaches nothing but dependence on external stimulus, whether material possessions or entertainment. Providing nurturing conditions and trusting children’s natural inclination to engage their minds is far more likely to produce independent, competent children, full of ideas.

+1 vote

       

Photo Source: washingtonpost.com

By Valerie Strauss

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2015/11/24/how-twisted-early-childhood-education-has-become-from-a-child-development-expert/?utm_term=.e5c53c678eec

Nancy Carlsson-Paige is an early childhood development expert who has been at the forefront of the debate on how best to educate — and not educate — the youngest students. She is a professor emerita of education at Lesley University in Cambridge, Ma., where she taught teachers for more than 30 years and was a founder of the university’s Center for Peaceable Schools. She is also a founding member of a nonprofit called Defending the Early Years, which commissions research about early childhood education and advocates for sane policies for young children.

Carlsson-Paige is author of “Taking Back Childhood.” The mother of two artist sons, Matt and Kyle Damon, she is also the recipient of numerous awards, including the Legacy Award from the Robert F. Kennedy Children’s Action Corps for work over several decades on behalf of children and families. She was just given the Deborah Meier award by the nonprofit National Center for Fair and Open Testing.

In her speech accepting the award (named after the renowned educator Deborah Meier), Carlsson-Paige describes what has happened in the world of early childhood education in the current era of high-stakes testing, saying, “Never in my wildest dreams could I have foreseen the situation we find ourselves in today.” Here’s the speech, which I am publishing with permission:

 

 Thank you FairTest for this Deborah Meier Hero in Education Award. FairTest does such great advocacy and education around fair and just testing practices. This award carries the name of one of my heroes in education, Deborah Meier—she’s a force for justice and democracy in education. I hope that every time this award is given, it will allow us to once again pay tribute to Deb. Also, I feel privileged to be accepting this honor alongside Lani Guinier.

When I was invited to be here tonight, I thought about the many people who work for justice and equity in education who could also be standing here. So I am thinking of all of them now and I accept this award on their behalf — all the educators dedicated to children and what’s fair and best for them.

It’s wonderful to see all of you here — so many family and friends, comrades in this struggle to reclaim excellent public education for all – not just some – of our children.

I have loved my life’s work – teaching teachers about how young children think, how they learn, how they develop socially, emotionally, morally. I’ve been fascinated with the theories and science of my field and seeing it expressed in the actions and the play of children.

So never in my wildest dreams could I have foreseen the situation we find ourselves in today.

Where education policies that do not reflect what we know about how young children learn could be mandated and followed. We have decades of research in child development and neuroscience that tell us that young children learn actively — they have to move, use their senses, get their hands on things, interact with other kids and teachers, create, invent. But in this twisted time, young children starting public pre-K at the age of 4 are expected to learn through “rigorous instruction.”

And never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined that we would have to defend children’s right to play.

Play is the primary engine of human growth; it’s universal – as much as walking and talking. Play is the way children build ideas and how they make sense of their experience and feel safe. Just look at all the math concepts at work in the intricate buildings of kindergartners. Or watch a 4-year-old put on a cape and pretend to be a superhero after witnessing some scary event.

But play is disappearing from classrooms. Even though we know play is learning for young kids, we are seeing it shoved aside to make room for academic instruction and “rigor.”

I could not have foreseen in my wildest dreams that we would have to fight for classrooms for young kids that are developmentally appropriate. Instead of active, hands-on learning, children now sit in chairs for far too much time getting drilled on letters and numbers. Stress levels are up among young kids. Parents and teachers tell me: children worry that they don’t know the right answers; they have nightmares, they pull out their eyelashes, they cry because they don’t want to go to school. Some people call this child abuse and I can’t disagree.

I could not have foreseen in my wildest dreams that we would be up against pressure to test and assess young kids throughout the year often in great excess — often administering multiple tests to children in kindergarten and even pre-K. Now, when young children start school, they often spend their first days not getting to know their classroom and making friends. They spend their first days getting tested. Here are words from one mother as this school year began:

“My daughter’s first day of kindergarten — her very first introduction to elementary school — consisted almost entirely of assessment. She was due at school at 9:30, and I picked her up at 11:45. In between, she was assessed by five different teachers, each a stranger, asking her to perform some task.

“By the time I picked her up, she did not want to talk about what she had done in school, but she did say that she did not want to go back. She did not know the teachers’ names. She did not make any friends. Later that afternoon, as she played with her animals in her room, I overheard her drilling them on their numbers and letters.”

The most important competencies in young children can’t be tested—we all know this. Naming letters and numbers is superficial and almost irrelevant in relation to the capacities we want to help children develop: self-regulation, problem solving ability, social and emotional competence, imagination, initiative, curiosity, original thinking — these capacities make or break success in school and life and they can’t be reduced to numbers.

Yet these days, all the money and resources, the time dedicated to professional development, they go to tooling teachers up to use the required assessments. Somehow the data gleaned from these tests is supposed to be more valid than a teacher’s own ability to observe children and understand their skills in the context of their whole development in the classroom.

The first time I saw for myself what was becoming of many of the nation’s early childhood classrooms was when I visited a program in a low-income community in north Miami. Most of the children were on free- and reduced-price lunch.

There were 10 classrooms – kindergarten and pre-K. The program’s funding depended on test scores, so — no surprise — teachers taught to the test. Kids who got low scores, I was told, got extra drills in reading and math and didn’t get to go to art. They used a computer program to teach 4- and 5-year-olds how to “bubble.” One teacher complained to me that some children go outside the lines.

In one of the kindergartens I visited, the walls were barren and so was the whole room. The teacher was testing one little boy at a computer at the side of the room. There was no classroom aide. The other children were sitting at tables copying words from the chalk board. The words were: “No talking. Sit in your seat. Hands to Yourself.”

The teacher kept shouting at them from her testing corner: Be quiet! No talking!

Most of the children looked scared or disengaged, and one little boy was sitting alone. He was quietly crying. I will never forget how these children looked or how it felt to watch them, I would say, suffering in this context that was such a profound mismatch with their needs.

It’s in low-income, under-resourced communities like this one where children are most subjected to heavy doses of teacher-led drills and tests. Not like in wealthier suburbs where kids have the opportunity to go to early childhood programs that have play, the arts, and project-based learning. It’s poverty — the elephant in the room — that is the root cause of this disparity.

A few months ago, I was alarmed to read a report from the Department of Education Office for Civil Rights showing that more than 8,000 children from public preschools across the country were suspended at least once in a school year, many more than once. First of all, who suspends a preschooler? Why and for what? The very concept is bizarre and awful. But 8,000? And then to keep reading the report to see that a disproportionate number of those suspended preschoolers were low income, black boys.

There is a connection, I know, between these suspensions and ed reform policies: Children in low-income communities are enduring play deficient classrooms where they get heavy doses of direct teaching and testing. They have to sit still, be quiet in their seats and comply. Many young children can’t do this and none should have to.

I came home from that visit to the classrooms in North Miami in despair. But fortunately, the despair turned quickly to organizing. With other educators we started our nonprofit Defending the Early Years. We have terrific early childhood leaders with us (some are here tonight: Deb Meier, Geralyn McLaughlin, Diane Levin and Ayla Gavins). We speak in a unified voice for young children.

We publish reports, write op eds, make videos and send them out on YouTube, we speak and do interviews every chance we get.

We’ve done it all on a shoestring. It’s almost comical: The Gates Foundation has spent more than $200 million just to promote the Common Core. Our budget at Defending the Early Years is .006 percent of that.

We collaborate with other organizations. FairTest has been so helpful to us. And we also collaborate with –Network for Public Education, United Opt Out, many parent groups, Citizens for Public Schools, Badass Teachers, Busted Pencils Radio, Save Our Schools, Alliance for Childhood and ECE PolicyWorks —There’s a powerful network out there – of educators, parents and students — and we see the difference we are making.

We all share a common vision: Education is a human right and every child deserves one. An excellent, free education where learning is meaningful – with arts, play, engaging projects, and the chance to learn citizenship skills so that children can one day participate — actively and consciously – in this increasingly fragile democracy.

 

+2 votes

 

Express photo by Kamleshwar Singh

“My first thought was these children are not going to live long by picking food from the streets. But I did not know how to help them. I did not know much about Indian culture and everyone I spoke to dismissed these children as rag-pickers and thieves," he says.

http://indianexpress.com/article/india/how-a-monk-brought-children-out-of-slums-to-schools-lobsang-jamyang-dharamshala-4699506/

Varinder Bhatia | Dharamsala

In 1997, when Lobsang Jamyang escaped from Tibet and arrived in Dharamsala, the 24-year-old had two “goals in life”: to meet the Dalai Lama, which he did soon after arriving; and study religion, which he went on to do at Sera Jey monastery in Mundgod, Karnataka.

However, he says, it was only when he returned to Dharamsala in 2001 that he realised his second goal was farther away, that his religion had more to teach him. “Two children used to follow me as I went from my home to the monastery, wait for me outside all day, and follow me back, begging for a coin or something to eat,” says Lobsang. Then one day, in July that year, he saw the two foraging through a heap of garbage outside his one-room accommodation, looking for something to eat.

“My first thought was these children are not going to live long by picking food from the streets. But I did not know how to help them. I did not know much about Indian culture and everyone I spoke to dismissed these children as rag-pickers and thieves,” he says.

That was his big Buddhist moment. “My conscience pricked me. As a follower of His Holiness and a student of Buddhism, how could I allow such a thing to happen,” says the 44-year-old.

That’s how the monk, whose official status in India is that of a refugee, set up Tong Len Charitable Trust, which runs a residential set-up in Sarah village, some 15 km from Mcleodganj, with financial backing from the Dalai Lama. Today, there are 107 children, mainly ragpickers from the slums of Kangra Valley, who stay at Tong Len. For their schooling, the Trust has tied up with Dayanand Model Senior Secondary School.

Pinky, a 17-year-old, has just finished her higher secondary school with 75 per cent marks in the science stream. “I will be starting my coaching classes for my PMT (pre-medical test) exams. I want to be a doctor,” says Pinky. Both her parents are daily wagers.

Meenakshi Gautam, principal of Dayanand Model Senior Secondary School, says, “We are lucky to be part of this initiative. There are nearly 100 students from Tong Len who are with us.”

Lobsang says he used to pay parents Rs 150 every month to keep their children at Tong Len. “But as the numbers increased, we thought we should utilise the money to provide better facilities at Tong Len,” he says.

+1 vote

BENGALURU: The Right to Education Act, which Karnataka started implementing from 2012, completed five years on Friday. But experts and RTE activists believe the system has become a profitable venture instead of championing equal education.
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bengaluru/rte-has-become-a-profitable-venture-say-experts/articleshow/58740881.cms

At a public consultation organized at Mahaveer Jain College here, activists and educationists reviewed RTE implementation and challenges in the state. The implementation seems to be focused on Section 19, which mandates free and fair education up to class 8, and ignores other important sections dealing with provisions that schools need to have.

According to a report by  Narasimha G Rao, state convener, RTE Task Force: "Parents are unaware of not only the provisions but the act itself. They are promised quality education and basic facilities, which aren't available in government schools, but once they join private institutions, they are still made to pay excessively for activities that aren't even conducted."  

"Public awareness is important because if parents and NGOs raise their voice against the system, only then action will be taken," Rao felt.

...