Educate for Life has supported Kshamtalaya, an Indian non-profit organisation founded to support school children in disadvantaged settings. We have enabled three local government schools in the vicinity of Hunar Ghar to benefit from the inputs of three committed Kshamtalaya Fellows who have been working to support students and teachers since the start of the 2017 academic year in August.
Here Kshamtalaya Fellow Stephen Charles, a former Bank of America employee, shares his experience of working in Jhed Secondary School, helping 46 children to develop a greater interest in their studies and learn valuable life skills through participating in sporting activities.
When I first entered the school in the month of August, I was excited with the task on hand but at the same time was nervous about whether I would be able to settle in. Also, would I be able to contribute to the development of the school? My project was to teach life skills and values to kids through sports, subsequently increasing interest in attending school.
Within a week of interaction, I realised that the children were very shy and fearful. They had fear for everything, fear of failure, fear of trying anything new, fear of speaking anything wrong, fear of asking anything, fear of getting a thrashing from the teacher. Before I came to the school they had not studied English at all as there were only two teachers in the school and both of them from a Hindi background. Because of this the competency level was very low, most of them were barely able to recognize letters in English. In Maths they were struggling with multiplication, division and subtraction.
Language has been the biggest hindrance in terms of communicating lessons; most kids don’t even know Hindi so I have to arrange a translator from the class.
Second barrier is the irregularity of the kids. Due to work at home, some of them don’t attend classes regularly and because of that they are unable to move along with the class.
Third Barrier has been festivals and holidays, because of too many intervals, the culture of learning has not been set up as I would like it to be.
Over the past six months, there has been a visible change in the attitude of children as well as learning. The classroom attendance has increased because they want to learn new things, have fun, play games and I have provided them with an open environment.
I am passionate about sports and started teaching the children football and Ultimate Frisbee. I believe that the sport is a great way to build relationships and also to express oneself.
I started training the children from my school as well as community members on both sports. My aim was to create a competitive local league in which every week matches would be played against teams from different panchayats. I, along with the students, cleared an area and built a field where the children can practice football and Frisbee every day. I was able to get 50 footballs from an organization called “Ball to All” and also managed to get funds to buy sports shoes for the children
What makes me happy
“Children have started speaking more, they have started to ask doubts and questions when they don’t understand anything. They have started to speak small sentences in English among them like ‘I Go Drink Water’, ‘I go to play’, ‘Everybody Silent’, and ‘Sorry’.
I next plan to coach local youth to become facilitators/assistant coaches to initiate football/Ultimate Frisbee in schools and amongst communities.