Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Art and Alternative Education

- Divya Ail
Someone had very humorously once said “Your education starts after your school ends!”, and frankly I agree with this quote to a certain extent in spite of the sarcasm. The kind of education that we get conventionally might equip us to get a job and ‘earn a living’ but it definitely does not teach us to ‘learn living’. To learn living in the true sense one ought to take pleasure in the intricacies of life – art, music, poetry, literature etc and develop some form of self expression in order to exercise ones’ individuality and stand out
from the crowd.
Today conventional education has become a rat race for students, wherein their intelligence is determined by fractional differences in marks. Their intellectual capabilities have been reduced merely to their ability to learn by rote and reproduce the same in examinations (much like parrots). There isn’t any scope for creative self expression at all – even the little chance that is given in the form of extracurricular activities is taken away by the parents (they want their children to be a part of the rat race after all!) And a child who does not fit in his scheme of education and does not score the highest possible marks is termed a loser. And if he fails to rise to the challenge that an unforgiving society has put forth, he continues to carry that tag throughout his life.
The scenario looks worse from the administration point of view because for universities education has become a business. The more they make the students cram during exams, the more they score. The more they score the better is the schools reputation indicating a sky high demand and an even higher donation in the future. The fact that all this is done at the cost of a child’s dream is unpardonable. Like most of us I have also been a victim of our conventional system of education (never termed a loser but was definitely a rebel most of the times) A rebel because apart from the regular curriculum a lot of things interested me like – art, music, dance, sports poetry etc. And I pursued these interests with equal zest and seriousness as my academics.
When I first heard about the concept behind Kaliyuva Mane – An Alternative School, it almost felt like an idea that came out of my mind. And the entire idea of educating children from different backgrounds at their own pace appealed to me greatly. I always feel that a child should be allowed to learn through curiosity, and should be allowed to experience the joy of discovery. I sincerely wish to congratulate Mr. Ananth Kumar for
his great venture that is on its way to changing many lives. And this is the most important reason that made me join Kaliyuva Mane as a volunteer. I have been teaching here for quite sometime now and it would be an understatement if I said that my experience has been great. The response from the kids was overwhelming.

I have been teaching them art and craft over the weekends (and at the expense of sounding immodest I must say they enjoy my classes!! ) I have always believed that art is an effective medium of teaching through exploration because art tends to evoke our senses and channelize them into creative self expression.
One of the reasons is that art brings out the creativity in a child which is necessary to solve problems in life and also enables them to think out of the box in times of crisis. It not only teaches hem to be patient and calm but also allows them to look at things from different perspectives. This is an essential attribute in a world wherein people still live with narrow views and personal prejudices. So a child learns to respect others views and develop a broader perspective.
And last but definitely not the least art bring out he best in a child and makes him a winner. Art is something that is very individualistic – a person might find a work beautiful while someone else might find the same work detestable. Art imbibes this same quality into a child and makes him an unique individual who might not be good at academics but might be good at sports or vice versa. In any case he is special. Creative thinking boosts a child’s confidence because the most important lesson learnt here is that each child is different, special in his own way, and has to be nurtured differently, for like every piece of art finds an appreciator, every child has his own special abilities and his own special place in the world. 

And these things that I said about art are not just meant to look good on paper. I have actually noticed these changes in the children over the past few months. The classes have definitely worked wonders on their confidence level, for their attitudes have changed from “I can’t do it” to “I will try” to “I will do it”. And though a gradual change it is exemplary. They are not only keen to learn new things but now they also try to improvise on what I teach them, try o experiment with different colors and are more positive about the results than before. I must add that their enthusiasm is infectious, they inspire me to learn more everyday and they have made my experience as a volunteer very enriching and a truly joyous one, for which I will be forever grateful. And through their example they have strengthened my belief that – art is indeed a very effective method for alternative education!  

Sunday, May 9, 2010

A milestone for Divyadeepa!

Greetings from  Divyadeepa family!

We are very happy  to share this important milestone that the children of Kaliyuva Mane have achieved on May 5th, 2010. SSLC results were out. 6 out of 7 who appeared for the important exams, emerged with flying colors. One of them secured a First Class too.

The highlight of their journey was their commitment towards accommodating 10 years of education into their 3-4 years of education in Kaliyuva Mane!  All children cleared the exam in English medium.

What makes this feat so special and satisfying?  Each of them hailed from rural BPL family.  Most of them are first generation school-goers.  Some had dropped out from main stream schools due to various reasons.
Here we present their profiles :

Prashanth’s (19 years) mother is working as a domestic help. Prashanth was studying in a Govt.  school. Compulsions of life, made him quit the school in 2003, without completing 7th standard.  He left the school to work as a child labourer at Ooty, Coimbatore and Hassan at a tender age of 12.

3 years ago,(during 2007) upon seeing an article on Kaliyuva Mane in “Mysooru Mithra”, one of his acquaintances called us and enquired about job opportunity for Prashanth. Considering his age, we wanted him to study. Initially, there were some behavioural issues owing to his tumultuous background. Also, he had forgotten what he had studied in primary schools.  He soon started showing interest in studies.

Sachin’s (15 years) father is a mason. Sachin was studying in a Govt. higher primary school in his village. . By the time he completed 5th standard, he lost interest in studies as he was considered as a slow learner. Eventually, his parents brought him to Kaliyuva Mane where he had to undergo learning from the scratch. We found him to be very bright but having some problems in learning languages. 

Nanjunda Swamy (21 years) was studying in Govt. higher primary school at Mellahalli. During 2000, when he was 11 years old, he lost interest in the school and bid good bye to it, without completing 5th standard.  He started helping his father in farming. One of his uncles, who was a beneficiary of our literacy programme at Mellahalli brought him to Kaliyuva Mane in 2007. He continued his education after a gap of nearly 7 years, because of which he had forgotten to recognize even Kannada alphabets and numbers.  

Narayana (15 years) used to attend the local village school once in a blue moon. Village games like marbles, top and chinni-dandu attracted him more than the village school. He was least interested in studies.  His brother who was a beneficiary of our supporting classes at Srirampura, brought him to Kaliyuva Mane in the year 2005. Initially he was not comfortable at Kaliyuva Mane. However, gradually started liking environment prevailing at Kaliyuva mane. 

Santosh (18 years) was not good at studies. Because of this he used to get upset  One day he left the school without completing 7th standard.  He took to grazing sheep. When Kaliyuva Mane was started, his parents admitted him to the school. Initially when he joined Kaliyuva Mane, he was irregular. He was a bit quarrelsome also.  After a year or so in 2007 he expressed his desire to join as a resident scholar.  Gradually he started learning from scratch. 

Mahesha’s (15 years) Mahesha was studying in 6th Govt. higher primary school, Dhanagahalli.  He was bright.  But due to severe financial constraints, his parents were on the verge of discontinuing his education.  One day his parents had come to Divyadeepa as construction helpers  They contacted Kaliyuva Mane regarding Mahesha’s admission.   In 2006, he joined Kaliyuva Mane as a resident scholar. He has passed the exams in First class. 

At Kaliyuva Mane, we have discovered that an uncluttered mind is a pre-requisite for learning. Love, care and empathy are the essential ingredients for an uncluttered mind.  We believe strongly that children should retain a ‘sense of wonder’ in them and enjoy their childhood to the brim.  A healthy emotional atmosphere is very necessary for the children to blossom.  We also feel, a certain degree of freedom is necessary for the children to learn. Children respond to activity based learning and interactive classes. At Kaliyuva Mane we are striving hard to practice these principles in letter and spirit. 

The response from the kids is really heartening. This has added more responsibility on our shoulders.  We are aware, the expectations from Vivek group children who are going to appear for SSLC examination during 2012 will be more.  We hope God gives us enough strength to live up to the expectations. 

The learning from these results should not be missed. The above children needed an opportunity to prove themselves. All they required was love, care and empathy. And they found it at Kaliyuva Mane.  

This would not have been possible without the support of a number of well-wishers and volunteers who stood by us during the testing times. Divyadeepa runs entirely on public donations. We are lost for words to describe their contributions. A young brigade of volunteers from local engineering colleges goes around the city collecting newspapers from houses to raise funds for these children week after week. A software engineer quit her cosy job in a reputed company to join Kaliyuva Mane as a teacher. A housewife commutes 30 KM a day to teach the children. The list in endless.  

Divyadeepa wishes to express its deep gratitude to all those people who have helped us to brighten the present and future of these children. Though it is a moment of joy, we cannot afford to be complacent. We are aware of the challenges facing us. A number of opportunity-deprived children are knocking at our doors. We need to build the future of many more such children. Hence, we appeal to you to help us transform many more children into self-reliant citizens of India.

We welcome you to Kaliyuva Mane, to experience first hand, an atmosphere full of joy and hope.
Come, join us, and be a part of this beautiful journey! 

On behalf of Divyadeepa family of kids, volunteers and staff

Monday, January 25, 2010

Republic Day Celebrations

Divyadeepa invites you to participate in Republic Day celebrations at its premises . The event commences at 8:45 AM. The cultural events include among other things, juggling, dance, pyramid formation, patriotic songs etc.

Sri Mohan Rao of Vivekananda Kendra, Mysore & Rotary Mid-Town will be the guests of honour.

All the patrons, well-wishers & volunteers of Divyadeepa Family are cordially invited to participate in the celebrations.

RSVP Ashwin 9886165220