Running an action-research school

Hunar Ghar, a community change project at the heart of rural India

 

New futures

Our 500 children are the first people in their family to get a meaningful education

 

A nurturing environment

Fostering calm, careful learning

 

Celebrating culture & community

Bringing in the new without losing the old

 

Community harmony

A curriculum adapted to better
suit the demands of rural life

1
1
10
years running
502
children
15
teachers
10
year groups (KG to 8)

Our school, Hunar Ghar, has 502 children enrolled from kindergarten to class 8. In Hunar Ghar they find a safe, caring, and reliable environment. Many of our teachers are also from the local village – we believe very strongly in motivating change from within – giving them a special insight to the barriers that stop children coming to school.

At Hunar Ghar we believe in attending to the individual needs of each child. No more industrial education – we’re demonstrating how even in the most rural and deprived areas education can be exceptional.

We achieve this by looking at what’s best for children as children, and by listening to the community; they understand far better that we do what life is like there, what the challenges are, and what they want for their children.

The result is a school like no-other in India, one that is attracting the attention of international audiences and the Government of India alike for it’s proven dedication, commitment, and ability to make meaningful & community-led change.

Meeting the needs of first-generation students

Our children, like Sibi here from class 7, are the first ever in their families to get structured, comprehensive learning support. That makes them really special: Each of them is an adventurer, a pioneer, heading into unknown territory.

It also means they have special needs: Their parents, themselves unfamiliar with school, find it hard to support their children. We who are so used to getting an education can sometimes forget that school-goingness is a very cultural activity. This is especially so when education is very book-heavy, as is the case in the vast majority of rural schools in India.

That’s why we’ve developed new techniques to engage first-generation learners from rural areas with the curriculum. We take the same government content, but recognise the special needs of our children and community so that they can feel engaged, empowered, and inspired by building on what they already know, using learning techniques they’re already familiar with.

Active & experience-rich learning

We’re working to make learning at Hunar Ghar a diverse, engaging, and stimulating experience. Denying children the opportunity to move around, express themselves, and interact with one another – as is the case in hundreds of thousands of schools in India – denies them the vital opportunity to learn key social skills, work as teams, discover their own way, and, most importantly, be buzzy little children. We’ve developed our teaching around harmonising the natural tendencies of children with learning journeys, all founded in research.

Regular activities at Hunar Ghar

Learning demonstration days

Regular whole-school performances give learners the opportunity to express themselves and to translate their recent learning into new mediums and communicate confidently with large audiences.

Community learning outings

Classes 3 to 8 leave the school grounds to learn directly in the community context every week. It enables direct, real-world practical experience of lessons covered that week.

Project-based assessment

We gain genuine insight to our children’s learning by setting them engaging tasks that require them to integrate and apply knowledge, such as budgeting and purchasing food for school lunch the next day.

Exposure trips

We integrate curriculum content with exposure to institutions, such as trips to the bank and performing live on radio, so they can see how the bigger picture fits together and begin to form a vision of future opportunity.

Supporting the needs of individual children

Because every child is different, we’ve developed our teaching approach to reflect that. Our student support infrastructure is built around understanding each and every child and his or her individual needs, aspirations, and skills.

It’s challenging in the context where we work, but we believe that it’s possible to give every child a bespoke learning journey, no matter how challenging an area we work in.

Developing teachers from within the community

Teachers, such as Pushpa here, are the most important part of any school. We may have the vision, but it’s them who translate it to reality

There are a lot of barriers to teachers in India engaging with children in a caring, nurturing way. It’s simply seen as unprofessional, especially in rural areas. Our teachers, coming from the local area, have shown great willingness to change their attitude in the light of their own experiences under our guidelines – that happy, cared-for children allowed to express themselves are better students and better learners.

We’ve created a little bundle of interventions to bring about this change, including:

Classroom observation
Regular teacher training
Teacher portfolios
Monthly one-on-one professional development meetings
In-house manual and guideline development
Reading Club – engaging with different ideas in education

300,000
More than free school meals served

Child health at Hunar Ghar

All our children come from below below poverty line families. In our 2012 health survey we found 61% of children in the village have some form of malnutrition, and 3% severe malnutrition.

That’s why we give all our children two healthy, nutritious, and yummy meals every school day – breakfast and lunch.

They get a great balance of protein and carbs, and fresh fruit or salad every day. As a result we’ve seen nutrition related disorders plummet at Hunar Ghar, and we’re encouraging a whole new generation of healthy eaters.

Community ownership

Hunar Ghar has achieved acclaim from government education officials for our successful engagement with the local community. Our school management committee (seen here) meets once a month to review progress against targets and discuss upcoming plans.

Regularly elected community volunteers come to Hunar Ghar during the month to scrutinise food standards, cleanliness, and child attendance. As the committee becomes more established, we’ll be introducing roles of increasing responsibility.

We also publish a monthly school newsletter celebrating the successes of children and teachers and showcasing their work. Further, we run quarterly sangats – village celebrations – where we share more about the school.

The various approaches all contribute to one thing – a well informed and involved community, and a working relationship upon which further participation can be built. We’re also setting higher standards than ever before, helping drive demand for better education from other schools too.

So, are you in?

There are four incredibly meaningful ways you can get involved right now:

Donate

Values are what we live for but money is the bread and butter. Our work is currently underfunded, and we need your support.

Tell me more

Promote

Tell your friends about us, hold a fundraiser, use your influence (media and speaking enquiries here please). We’ve got a story that we really want to tell, help us get it out there.

Volunteer…

…from where you are. There are many things you can do for us with just a net connection that will all make a real difference – find out what.

Intern…

…at Hunar Ghar. We accept special people to come and share in Hunar Ghar at Hunar Ghar. From 2 day workshops to year long placements, we have something for you – apply now.