Our Fundraising and Communications Officer, Shwetambera Parashar, shares her first impressions of Hunar Ghar after spending time at the school and accompanying class 8 students (pictured above) on a community learning morning outing.
When I first heard about Hunar Ghar, I was more than drawn to its concept of creating meaningful impact through quality education and holistic community involvement and leadership. However, my first day at Hunar Ghar was way beyond anything I imagined the school to be. It is one thing to read about ideas that appeal to you, it is a completely different thing to actually see those ideas being translated into reality.
On my first day at Hunar Ghar, what enamoured me completely was the extent to which children were involved in their classes; whether it was reciting poems as part of preparations for Republic Day, or demonstrating through group activities what they learned in a previous lesson on angles and geometrical shapes. The fact that children themselves took initiative with an enthusiasm so infectious, set Hunar Ghar apart from anything I have witnessed elsewhere in the context of rural education in India. It was also a testimony to the efficiency and dedication of the teaching staff, including teachers who themselves hailed from within the community. What else can be a better measure of teachers’ success than their students’ acceptance and internalisation of their teaching methods?
While most of the teachers and students on that day were busy with decorations and painting of classrooms for Republic Day celebrations, there were some who were quietly engaged in self-study in their respective classrooms. I entered into one such classroom, where a group of 12-13 year old boys and girls were reading a poem from their textbooks. They looked at me as I went and sat on the window sill, giggled a little and went back to their textbooks. After a couple of minutes, one of the girls started to hum the poem she was reading. And within minutes the entire group started humming the poem in the same tune. I realised that the poem was an old Rajasthani folk song about the Chirmi tree whose seeds are used as prayer beads and in percussion instruments integral to Rajasthani music. I found it quite amazing that children could connect what they learnt inductively through their lived experiences with the education they received at school.
While this was an example of inductively forging links between education and community life, I also had the opportunity of attending one of the community learning outings which was a more planned activity conducted by the teaching staff. In this exercise, a group of class 8 students went out with a structured questionnaire aimed at exploring the changes that have come in the food habits in the region and the reasons for this as deemed by the elders in the community. Here too the students demonstrated an impressive ability to take initiative and charge of the entire activity.
Overall, it was an extremely enriching and unforgettable experience to meet a set of people dedicated towards making quality rural education a reality. By observing a bunch of students so vibrant and enthusiastic, I could see the difference a school can make amidst extreme deprivation and the struggles of rural life.