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Annual Update 2005-07

PARVARISH – THE MUSEUM SCHOOL' for Slum Children

Urban slum children who have never been to / or have run away from school, jump around with joy in the environs of knowledge and learning. Using experiments and science models as toys, swinging in the rain among trees, using colours of leaves and flowers to paint the world, writing on the slate of sand, playing with pebbles to learn mathematics, dropping them into water to understand how sound travels, and playing treasure hunt in tribal habitats to understand culture and architecture, are the many ways of learning, the children enjoy. That is Parvarish – The Museum School.

Getting started

Watching tiny feet bruised by glass pieces, walking bare on hot tar roads, carrying back full of garbage, with hardly a meal in their sunken bellies and forced to snort local drugs, was a pathetic site in rag pickers colonies. These were the children of a lesser God, born to suffer the wrath of the privileged, and turn into law breakers to settle scores later. Neither the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyans, nor the mid day meals  could divert them from their regular grind and the dark future.

Taking it up as a challenge, Organisation for Awareness of Integrated Social Security (OASiS) steered its focus to find an alternate path to mainstream these children with society, and get them their right to a decent living. The search took OASiS to Shantiniketan (Guru Rabindranath Tagore’s dream), International Centre of Education, Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry and a few other non-formal education models. Combining their best practices, and designing a curriculum that could enable complete transformation of the child, OASiS collaborated with 3 Museums of Bhopal to create a new environment of learning and development for the children.

Based on the belief that ‘Nature is the Best Teacher’, and ‘Exposure is the Best Learning’, PARVARISH – The Museum School was conceived and designed by OASiS with the collaborating Museums. With blessings of great academicians, teachers and learned people, Project PARVARISH started on September 5, 2005 in Bhopal.

The Initial Days

As we dodged filth and garbage to make way to their homes and register children aged 5-10 years for our project, we faced a lot of abuse from their drunken fathers, who thought we were out there to deprive them of their child’s earnings. The strength of 50 on the first day might have been only a picnic for the children, as the numbers soon dwindled to 20.

But as the teachers cared for each child, cleaning them, combing them and showing them their real self, the children started showing remarkable changes in their appearance, cleanliness and behavior. The sudden exposure to a strange and knowledge filled environment, the warm company of well groomed people, and the new world of alphabets and numbers, were enough to influence a change in personality of the children. As the children started taking back the learning to their families, the abuses changed into appreciation and the numbers started swelling.

As word spread, non-school going children from nearby slums started ogling the school bus on the surreal road to a bright future. Starting from 20 children from 1 slum, the project reached 70 children from 3 slums in its journey of 18 months.

A Day at Parvarish - The Museum School

A Typical Day in Project Parvarish starts with the Teacher Volunteers fanning out to their allocated slums at 2 PM to collect the children. This gives the teachers an opportunity to meet their families and enquire their well-being. The children take a short walk with the teacher to the bus stop, and on the way describe their jaunts in the morning at home or at work.

The bus is filled with greetings and giggles as it picks up children from 3 slums on the way and glides through traffic and scenic landscapes. At the scheduled Museum, the children fall in line, disciplined and well mannered for the prayer song. Following that, the children separate into groups (by age) and led by their respective teachers to different spots.

The teachers conduct their sessions as planned using objects from nature to teach the children through games. The session is followed by a group meal, and then its time to roll on the grass & play.

The return trip in the bus is known to every passing commuter, as it resonates with songs sung by the children. Then its time to go back home and share the learning they had today.

The year that went by

The year started with behavioural changes in the children, with games and competitions on cleanliness and discouraging gutka eating habits.

Alphabets, words and numbers were introduced along with colors, fruits, flowers, birds, animals, etc. While the children learnt how to draw and color, they had also learnt how to write names and add numbers. They used stone slabs and leveled sand as slates and made non-palate colors by crushing flowers and leaves. Thumb prints and flick sprays brought their imagination on paper and leaves.

Learning mathematic tables was as fun as singing songs. The poems found their music as children hummed on swings. Physical exercises became dance steps.

Science models became objects of magic discovered by the children. But as explanations followed, myths were uncovered and questions on science popped up from the little minds that left everyone spellbound. See one of the questions in the scrolling bar on the top of the page.

Milestones

In 18 months, the children have learnt:

  • To read simple text and paragraphs in Hindi and English.
  • To write simple words and sentences in both languages.
  • Basic mathematical operations.
  • All about the 5 senses and anatomy of the body.
  • Basics of Science, environment, evolution and habitat.
  • Terracotta and clay modeling. In their words “A new way to play with mud”.
  • Handicrafts, Paper crafts, Card making.

A special message from the Children of Project PARVARISH

We are thankful to our teachers who shown us a new way of life.

We are thankful to God who has blessed us with this opportunity.

We are thankful to them whose financial support helped us understand the world and get educated like others.

We are thankful to them who have given us the respect in a world where everyone shuns us away.

We are thankful to our Bus uncle, who takes us to school like other privileged children.

But there are many like us who also need your support and grooming, so that we all can also become like you one day.

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