SHIKSHAMITRA is a process for learning to live better. It is a space where one

learns to keep well and to help others keep well too. Shikshamitra has an address.

However, it goes beyond this – permeating into the lives of many, influencing

one’s choices in life and ways of life. To be associated with Shikshamitra is to assume

the responsibility of trying to live better. It is a continuous attempt to search for

activities that inspire life and build trust, or, it is an attempt to keep away from

anything to the contrary. Shikshamitra is a means toward becoming aware of

how much one can be and knowing exactly what one’s limitations are.

July 25, 2008


July 10 -13, 2008

Praajak is an NGO working with railway platform children who asked us for assistance with teacher training. We organized a session that proved to be rather noteworthy for both sides. Shikshamitra feels that this is strength we can build upon in order to reach more children and address the fact that hands-on, independent-style learning is lacking in many of the curriculums being developed for marginalized children.

This was essentially a new experience for Shikshamitra. Prior visits to platform shelters of Praajak at Kharagpur and Malda gave us some insight into the program being tried there. We felt that the teachers needed: (a) some basic pedagogic concepts; (b) to develop basic reading/writing teaching skills; (c) to learn HOW to develop interesting materials; (d) to learn how to display them well; and (e) to manage multiple ability groups. With all these factors carefully noted, we designed the four-day workshop that was held right at Shikshamitra.

Summary/Highlights of the workshop
• 8 Praajak teachers and 3 Shikshamitra teachers participated in the workshop.
• The profiles, attitudes and habits of the platform children were written down. Based on that the content, methods, and management techniques of a classroom were decided. Emphasis was placed on “what a child could learn in very short teaching-learning slots.”
• Sessions on Reading, Writing and Text Creation were conducted. The children’s own writings are used as texts and activities are developed around them.
• A day of basic Maths with diversified activities created around the basic operations was also conducted.
• On the final day, participants chalked out a monthly programme.

Although most of the teachers had never been exposed to the pedagogic concepts and skill development techniques being introduced, they were able to pick up the ideas quickly and were soon able to develop their own texts with activities for further learning. They took the material being shown seriously and within 10 days of the workshop they developed many of their own new materials. They submitted a two-week work plan. Two of the participants, along with the Coordinator came over to show the materials they developed based on the workshop and to clarify a number of doubts they had. We were impressed with how they utilized the concepts we explained and incorporated them into a plan for their own particular students.

We realize that as far as pedagogy is concerned, Shikshamitra’s involvement needs to be long-term, continuing upon this first four-day workshop. Shikshamitra staff will soon need to visit the platforms and assist in some class transactions in order to build up teacher capacity and confidence. So all in all, we have started a good relationship for more community outreach and we all feel a bit more empowered to do it together.


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