The establishment of Hunar Ghar School has transformed the learning opportunities available to children growing up in Bakhel. Over 80% of adults in Bakhel have no school going experience. It is a fantastic achievement that since the creation of Hunar Ghar School in 2007, over 400 children now pass through the school gates each day.
Providing Primary Education
The nurturing and holistic learning environment of Hunar Ghar School is unparalleled in the area. We are grateful to our long term partner, Rajasthan Bal Kalyan Samiti (RBKS) for its tireless dedication to ensuring access to quality education to children living in the vicinity of the school.
In November, the Hunar Ghar team marked Children’s Day by organising a rally. Hundreds of children marched and chanted messages about the rights of children, especially girls, to education. This was a great opportunity to raise awareness of the importance of education for all.
At Hunar Ghar, a special effort is made to engage community members and parents with the education being provided by the school. Community members are invited to the school to see the children’s work and special performance days are held when all classes are able to share what they have been learning.
Learning Outside the Classroom
Teachers regularly take their classes out of the school gates and into the community, working with local community members to share knowledge on a curriculum topic. This enables the school to make learning contextual and to value local knowledge. Community members see how teachers impart information and develop students’ confidence to ask questions and explore their area of study further.
School Management Committee
In addition to this, community members are encouraged to be part of the School Management Committee and are given roles to monitor what is happening in the school. This gives the community the chance to observe children learning in their classrooms, and to see what the school environment is like. They can then contribute their ideas for improvements and express any concerns they may have.
Hunar Ghar Bal Sansad / Children’s Parliament
The Hunar Ghar Bal Sansad / Children’s Parliament also has an observational role to play. The elected students to the Parliament meet on a monthly basis and agree actions and priorities for the month ahead. At the moment, there is a focus on the cleanliness of the school. Bal Sansad members have been carrying out their own checks on classroom tidiness. By allowing the students to focus on what is important to them, they are empowered to speak out and be active student leaders.
Keeping classrooms tidy does not mean stopping creativity and exploration. Hunar Ghar students benefit from a range of extra-curricular activities. Painting and drawing are popular. Recently special art classes have been held and children have been improving their illustration skills with the help of a local teacher.
Hunar Ghar students have also enjoyed Diwali celebrations held at the school to mark the Festival of Lights. Sparklers sparked smiles as teachers lit them for students from all classes.
Community Health Outreach Work
Improving Child Health at Hunar Ghar
The RBKS health team has continued to keep an eye on the health of students attending Hunar Ghar School, with regular height and weight monitoring sessions taking place.
Maternal and Infant Healthcare and Support
The team has also been out and about in the community, visiting pregnant women and new mothers to share advice and guidance and making sure pre-school age children are receiving their childhood vaccinations.
The team has started to share information and videos with women using a tablet. The films cover important topics around maternal and early childhood health, and are aimed at women living in rural communities. They prompt discussion and questions which the team can then answer. Better knowledge and understanding amongst community members leads to changes in attitudes and practices, and, ultimately, healthier and safer pregnancies and childhoods.
Regular Mobile Clinic Service
Over the past two months, nearly 200 community members have benefited from free professional healthcare from the visiting mobile clinic provided by our partner the Global Hospital and Research Centre.
Improving Secondary Education
Hunar Ghar School Careers Sessions
In November, a number of different professionals were invited to Hunar Ghar to share details about their chosen career with students. The speakers explained what skills, interests and qualifications students would need to pursue their respective occupations which included nursing, social work, policing, forestry, agriculture, engineering, teaching and radio journalism. The speakers shared their personal journeys and how they had overcome challenges to achieve their goals. Students were very motivated by the talks and are now designing resources for the school library, which provide information about the different employment options they found out about.
“Inspired by all of you, I have learned how you have faced challenges to achieve your goal…I want to become a doctor. I will also face challenges to achieve my goal…by becoming a good doctor in my life, I will play my good role in society…” Hunar Ghar Student
“Inspired by you in this career day, I come to know what preparation needs to be done to become a policeman, and it was also nice to know how this profession work helps people…So I would work hard to go into the police, and I will make a career in it.” Hunar Ghar Student
Hunar Ghar Graduates
Nearly all students who have completed their studies at Hunar Ghar have gone on to secondary schools. This year, the first cohort of graduates to have started secondary level education are sitting their final secondary school exams. These students, who attend a residential school 95km away in Jhadol, are pleased to be completing Class 12. They plan to continue their studies further.
“My 12th board exams is in February/March. I am happy that my schooling is going to be completed…My favourite subjects are Geography, Political Science and Hindi literature…I want to do BSTC (Basic School Training Certificate) after 12th as my dream is to become a teacher. In school I like extra classes because this extra class for all subjects help me to understand well and I know this extra class will help me to achieve higher numbers in board exam.” Hunar Ghar Graduate in Class 12, Arts Stream
“My school education 12 is going to be completed, which I like very much and I am too excited. I got very good support from Hunar Ghar School so that I will be able to complete my education. My favourite subject is Agricultural Chemistry because I understand this subject easily.
“In other school activities, I like to have extra classes for board exams, I also like to use the library and the agricultural laboratory here in school. I like agriculture lab very much because in agriculture lab we get practical knowledge which helps me to understand topics better…I want to do job in Agriculture Department.” Hunar Ghar Graduate in Class 12, Agriculture Stream
We are working with Kshamtalaya to improve educational provision at two local government secondary schools in the vicinity of Hunar Ghar, Mandwa and Jhed Secondary Schools. The Kshamtalaya team is working closely with students, teachers, school leaders, education officials and community members to understand and address barriers to good educational outcomes and positive learning experiences.
A key focus at the moment is how to improve school attendance. Following a survey carried out earlier this year, which explored the reasons behind irregular attendance, the team is implementing some new strategies to encourage improved attendance.
One of the factors behind poor attendance was children needing to stay at home to help with household chores and not being encouraged by their parents to go to school. To address this, Kshamtalaya team members will have more frequent contact with parents, both by regular SMS messages and by more face-to-face home visits. This will help to build relationships with students’ parents. The team members will give parents insights into their children’s learning and the value of them being at school.
The team is also going to hold some career guidance sessions for students outside of school hours. These sessions will help students think about their futures and understand the importance of learning in order to achieve their goals.
Kshamtalaya will also be holding Ultimate Frisbee sessions after school too, using sport as a means of engaging students and building relationships with them. These sessions will be for girls and boys and we expect them to be very popular. There are already some talented players as you can see from the video below!
We have recently received a grant from the Lady Ryder of Warsaw Memorial Trust to support children to attend Hunar Ghar School. We are very grateful for this grant, as well as the support we receive from individuals and other organisations, to ensure the ongoing provision of our integrated services and programmes.
All our work, delivered through our valued local partners, is having a big impact on the day to day lives of Bakhel community members and the future opportunities of children growing up in this remote and otherwise forgotten part of Rajasthan.