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Activities & Programme

February, 2013

Both school-going and non school-going children attend the informal education classes at ISST's Community Centre. As a result, many children not currently enrolled in formal schooling are motivated to do so. Besides general education classes that cover language and maths according to age group, the centre also engages the children in a variety of extra-curricular activities. This includes activities in painting, singing, dancing, reading and the watching of films; a small group of children also participate in the theatre group Nakshatra and have formed a Bal Sansad.

Commonwealth Games Programme

In anticipation of the upcoming 2010 Commonwealth Games to be held in Delhi, staff at the SAATHI Centre are currently conceputalising a new set of activities and projects that will involve and educate youth in sports. The Commonwealth Games is a multi-national, multi-sport event. Held every four years, it involves elite athletes of the Commonwealth of Nations; attendance at the Commonwealth Games is typically around 5,000 athletes. The Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) is the organisation responsible for the direction and control of the Commonwealth Games.

The purpose of this programme activity is to familiarise our adoloscent participants with the different sports listed as Commonwealth Games and, if possible, prepare them as volunteers for the Delhi 2010 games. For this, the process of providing information on all listed sports, as well as training in these wherever possible, has already begun. All requisite information, such as the origin of the sport, basic rules, famous players, champion nations, and playing nations are discussed. The programme will be a multimedia exploration of the world of sports, and will use presentations, stories, comics, field trips and films to enhance learning.

In 2006-2007 and 2007-2008 our children participated in the following workshops:

Theatre Workshops

Thus far three theatre workshops have been conducted. The first was held in November 2006 and was led by Agash Saxena from National School of Drama, and the second, in June 2007 during the summer camp, was led by Ankit Sharma. Both workshops were huge successes in terms of participation and results, especially as the two street plays that the Nakshatra team came up with were highly praised at all performance grounds. The third workshop was led by Rohit Tripathi from NSD and was held in October 2007.

A breakdown of this workshop's activities is given below to highlight the creative approach to learning and skills building that is promoted throught the theatre group. The workshop began with different mental and physical exercises for the participants and concluded with the preparation of a play. An introductory ice-breaking session was conducted with the children. Games were played with the purpose of augmenting the children's confidence on stage. Thereafter, the schedule for the rest of the workshop was decided upon in a participatory manner to include:

  •     Physical and mental exercises (3- 4 pm)
  •     Story telling (4- 4:30 pm)
  •     Improvisation (4:30- 5 pm)


The second day began with the enactment of different emotions by all participants, such as laughter, joy, sadness etc. Later, three stories with different themes were shared, and the children were asked to act these out using improvisation. After watching the improvisations, Rohit ji spoke with the children about the process of improvisation in theatre and in other creative art forms. On the third day, all participants were asked to prepare a play about impoverished labourers struggling through the festivals of Dussehra and Diwali. On the fourth, the children were given the script for a play and asked to give a performance. The fifth day began with a reading of the script of a play, 'Vaise to sab khair kushal hai'. The play is a commentary on the inequalities in our society and how these can be done away with. Later, participants were assigned characters based upon their performances. On day six the allocation of all the roles to various participants was finalised. During the seventh session, the children began work on their respective roles and preparation for the play thus began. Participants continued working on their roles and the preparation of the play.

Life Skill Workshops

In March 2007, Sandhan (an NGO working in Jaipur) invited our children to attend a Life Skill workshop. Fourteen adolescents and three staff members attended the three day workshop. This was a wonderful opportunity for these children to travel outside Delhi and gain exposure to other areas. The workshop addressed social skills, emotional strength, negotiation skills, and how to combat violence, all through role playing. Participants also engaged in discussions on topics such as happiness, responsibility, motivation and health, including misconceptions about HIV/AIDS.

The group of adolescents who travelled to Jaipur came back so energised that they decided to hold another workshop during the Summer Camp with the children who were unable to attend the one in Jaipur. The response to the Life Skill workshop conducted at the SAATHI centre by these fourteen children is worth noting, and participation was commendable.

Workshop on Comics

The idea for a workshop on comics with children developed out of ISST's desire to provide children with a new mode of communicating and articulating their feelings. It was felt that this would help enhance their creativity as well. Experts from the NGO, World Comics India, which first established grassroots comics in India, took an immense interest in carrying out the six day workshop with the children and instilling in them an interest in the power of the comic! Although participation was optional for the children, around fifty-two children came on the first day of the workshop and twenty-two got passionately involved and stayed until the last day. The results were surprising. At the end of the workshop forty-four poster comics on a range of issues were completed. On the final day of the six day workshop, participants were elated to see their own comics displayed on the walls of the Centre. The wonder of being able to create one's own poster (after days of hard work) gave the children an immense sense of achievement and inspired them to further pursue their interest.

The issues presented in their stories reflected the different dimensions of the problems they face in everyday life. From the deteriorating quality of education in their schools, to the demolition of the slums they reside in, corruption in ration shops, domestic violence, alcoholism, and the corrupt behaviour of police and other political leaders, many critical concerns were articulated through this immensely powerful, yet enjoyable media. Most of the children explained in the workshop discussions that while they encounter many problems, they had never thought of sharing them with others through any medium. Their newfound knowledge of creating comics will help them communicate their thoughts and ideas to a larger audience and will also provide them with a powerful communication tool.

After the workshop, the twenty-two participants and the cofacilitator had a few meetings and decided to follow-up on the interest in comics that had developed. The children suggested starting a comic club where they would meet once a week to discuss issues and their stories and create comic posters. They collectively decided to come up with the name 'Munna Bhai Comics Club'. Currently, the club meets every Friday to work on designing one comic per person. They also plan to carry their comics to the community and exhibit them in the market place and in schools; they will also try to publish in local newspapers. The children are keen to know how their comics would be perceived and how they would impact readers.

Book Binding Workshop

The workshop was led by a 14 year old boy, Shaan-e-alam, who is a participant at ISST's centre in Vinod Nagar. Book binding has been a source of income for him for a while now. Shaan-e-alam spoke to the children about the significance of books in our lives and thus the need to value and maintain them. He also taught the children how to make glue. Later, he explained the complete process of binding books on white board. The actual process of book binding was executed and completed by all the participants with Shaan-e-alam. The entire workshop was carried out in an interactive and cooperative manner. The rationale behind organising the workshop was that binding the library books on their own would give the children a sense of ownership and responsibility towards the books. It would also be an additional skill that could be used to earn some money. This workshop also augmented Shaan-e-alam's confidence and helped him better value his skill. Eighteen girls and five boys took part in the workshop.

Photography Workshop

This workshop was conducted at the Habitat Learning Centre.

Social & Behavioural Programmes

Initiation of the Discussion Group

To help children put forth their views and engage with each other, a new platform for social interaction for children was introduced at our West Vinod Nagar centre. Each month the children collectively decide upon an issue to discuss. The monthly theme can be a societal issue, career-related or can pertain to their personal lives. We often invite a facilitator for the discussion group for some practical input on the topic for discussion. It is interesting to observe how the children articulate themselves and participate in such forums, as well as how it enhances their self-confidence and clarity about issues relevant to them. The discussion group has met sixteen times since November 2006 and has addressed a range of participant-initiated themes. In August 2007, the discussion group was also introduced at the SAATHI centre.

Counselling

ISST offers psychosocial counselling to address issues ranging from personal management skills to handling problems that arise from daily interaction with various agencies. Making regular and prompt counselling available has further enabled the programme to build trust amongst the children and the rest of the community.

Both behavioral and vocational training guidance for children are provided. We have started to maintain comprehensive case records for all of our participants at the SAATHI centre. The background of the child, his/her interests, strengths, weaknesses and areas for intervention are all recorded. This is being done to better understand individual needs within a societal and cultural context, as well as to track the children's progress during through their association with us and in follow-up sessions. In addition, a suggestion box has been placed at our centre for children and adolescents to anonymously express their problems. Only our counsellors have access to this box. Counselling sessions take place every Thursday.

English Speaking and Personality Development Programme

This programme was begun as a response to the expressed needs of adolescents in the community, which were listed in the baseline survey. The curriculum for this programme has been designed to address important areas of social interaction, such as introducing oneself, engaging in telephone conversations, and understanding body language and proper grammar and pronunciation. Currently there are twenty-five students within this programme

Other Programme Activities

Playground study

An exploratory playground study was conducted in February 2007 by two interns at ISST. The study's objective was to identify interesting dimensions of interaction on the playground which could be further studied, with a focus on gender and class. ISST plans to further expand this study into other area schools in the future.

Bachpan

This programme was begun as a response to the needs of young children in the community, as Aanganwadis in the neighbouring areas were either not operational or extremely inactive. No other organisations in the area are providing any similar services. The prime objective of the programme is to provide a nurturing environment for these children and to shape their attitudes, behaviours, values, practices, standards, and language abilities using a holistic approach to child development.

A module has been developed by ISST's Amita ji and Manju ji under the Bachpan Programme for identifying comprehension levels and required interventions to increase them. Various activities to increase concentration and motivation among children have been initiated. These include building blocks made of waste wood and the enactment of famous children's stories using props like masks.

A Bal Mela 'Maksad' was organised on 14th November 2007 to celebrate Children's Day. The event was given the name 'Maksad', to signify the project's objective of inviting Municipal Corporation of Delhi school teachers from neighbouring areas and demonstrating to them innovative and interesting teaching methods. It was hoped that they would adopt these methods to maximise classroom attendance, bolster young minds with creativity and provide an environment of learning with fun. It is quite known that young children learn faster when taught through interaction and play. We hoped to deliver this message to teachers and parents at this event. Apart from this, the children participated in different events like computer quizzes, cricket match, rangoli and mehndi competitions, songs and street plays.

Study on the delivery and quality of education in MCD schools

Our field educators have been encouraging other families to enrol their children in MCD schools. Nevertheless, despite more and more children going to school and increasing enrollment rates, dropout rates from these primary schools remains alarmingly high. We have been looking into this issue through visits to these schools and interaction with teachers, children and parents. Earlier, these interventions were not being made in a systematic and sustainable manner. ISST, in partnernship with JOSH (a youth group), has decided to take up the issue in a more holistic and efficient way through an action study on the delivery and quality of education in MCD schools. The present intervention seeks to reveal, understand and critically analyse the role of different stakeholders, including the government, school authorities, teachers, parents and students.

The study's main objectives are to:

  • Understand the different factors affecting the delivery of elementary education in MCD schools
  • Involve the community in solving the problems identified in order to improve state services
  • Perform advocacy work that is informed by the research analysis


The action research will cover six schools in the areas of Kalyanpuri, Pandav Nagar and Trilokpuri.

Thus far, we have made visits to the afternoon and morning batches of the schools in Kalyanpuri and Vinod Nagar and held discussions with their teachers. An application under the Right to Information Act looking into the functioning of the Parent Teachers Associations (PTAs) and teachers' training has also been filed with the MCD. The planned budget for MCD primary schools for the years 2007-08 and 2008-09 and a list of guidelines for PTA functioning were also procured from the Education Department of the MCD. At this point, we intend to gather more information on the budget and file another RTI application in this regard. Focus group discussions will also be held with children of class five in these schools and parents of students. Our long term objective is to revive PTAs so that they can monitor the schools themselves, as well as to lobby for the opportunity to hold a sample workshop on capacity-building with teachers.

Promotion and facilitation of savings among residents of Indira Camp, Kalyanpuri

We made a visit to Indira Camp in Kalyanpuri to speak with residents about the importance of savings and encourage them to utilise the services at the Kalyanpuri branch of the State Bank of India. We found that indeed, people do want to save and open bank accounts, but it is the banks themselves that are making this difficult. There are a number of problems we learnt about with regards to camp residents utilising bank services, which we are working to redress.

Firstly, most residents are not prevented from picking up account application forms by bank employees. If they are somehow able to collect forms, they are often given a hard time by employees who ask for various documents to be submitted. For instance, if they go with one proof of identity, they are asked for another. Even those who have had accounts with the branch earlier are not allowed to start new bank accounts. Thus, residents are forced to apply through brokers who charge at least Rs. 200 per account and do not provide any kind of assurance. We met with the Manager of the East Delhi branch to discuss this matter, and he was very supportive of our cause. Since our continuing dialogue with the Kalyanpuri branch was not moving this matter forward, we chose, along with the residents of Indira Camp, to file a complaint against them. We subsequently received a phone call of apology from the Kalyanpuri branch manager and were also contacted by the Zonal manager. Nevertheless, we continue to face difficulties in our efforts to assist the residents of Indira Camp in acquiring application forms to set up accounts.

After much dialogue with Indira Camp residents and the bank manager, a free banking camp was organised at the SAATHI centre on the 10th of January 2008 for the residents of Kalyanpuri. More than 30 application forms were completed at the camp, but only 16 accounts were opened on that day because bank officials decided to end the camp at 2 pm. We were reassured that another camp would be set up in May, after which we plan to file another complaint against the branch manager for failing to address other issues about which we have continually enquired.

Empowering Out of School Adolescents through the Life Skill Education Program

ISST, along with the Modi Care Foundation, will be organising a Life Skill workshop with adolescent participants at the SAATHI Centre in April 2008. Through this training, adolescent participants will trained as master trainers who will in turn train other youth at the Centre as peer educators. Master trainers will be trained in the end of March 2008 and peer educators, sometime between July and September. ISST's Amita ji and Shubh received training from the Foundation to facilitate better coordination of the project.

Jan Shikshan Santhan

This is in initiative of ISST with the Ministry of Human Resource Development Which provides a 3 months Certificate Course in Mobile repairing. At present 37 students are enrolled under the course. In future a similar course is proposed to be provided in Computer Hardware.