From a hostel of 22 children in 2008, now we are a Hub ‘n Spoke model of 48 hostel children and 121 tribal hamlet children. Our growth has been an eventful journey of continuous learning. We began with a two-member team on the ground, and expanded to a current staff of 16 members who fulfill the following roles:
Hamlet teachers (6)
Hostel wardens (2)
Honorary project heads (2)
Project coordinator (1)
Exactly five years this month, we started a fabulous journey that is affecting students and their quality of learning. The hard work of many people played a role in developing the current program. Special thanks go to Ms. Cindy, Ms. Das, Dr. Gokula , Mr. Kuppa , Mr. Murthy, Professor Prasad, Dr. Raju, and Dr. Usha.
Overall, our educational environment is improved. Government educational officers and support staff are aware of the effectiveness of our work. Hamlet teachers with whom I interact appear proud of the work they are doing and every day seem to be learning new ways of reaching out to students. Due to initiative of our hamlet teachers, kids in every hamlet are getting government benefits, such as uniforms, and textbooks. When there is a deficiency in the book supply, our hamlet teacher makes sure that every kid has text to use by either getting an extra supply or making a copy.
Hamlet teachers are effective in bringing out more kids. In Bhasha’s hamlet, he retains his students even when their parents migrate to work for three- to six-month intervals. Bhasha promises the parents that their children will study regularly, and he takes responsibility for their welfare. Under those conditions, the parents allow their kids to remain in the hamlet for schooling. Leaving the kids under the care of teacher is huge success in terms of influencing parents’ decisions.
At the end of the 2012–2013 academic year, teachers wrote about their teaching experiences, their interactions with students, and provided feedback. Because of the uniqueness of our teaching method and the accelerated way kids are learning the alphabet and activities, teachers in three hamlets teach the pre-primary section. Teachers reiterated a need to focus on teaching pre-primary students.
Overall, there is an atmosphere of encouragement and support for our project. Now it is time to give students new learning opportunities in the areas of culture and health.
I met with hostel wardens and most of the girls in the hostel. Overall, hygiene is good. According to one warden, most of the girls are bright but initially hamlet girls are very shy and reticent. The girls appear to be strong in mathematics and clearly understand concepts. Most of the girls are slowly building their social skills. Five spoke with me about goals of becoming a police officer, a teacher, and one wants to become our hostel wardens when she graduates. One girl is suffering from severe asthma, but the others are helping her and treating her sensitively. Nearly half of the girls are undernourished, which is understandable due to their backgrounds. Loss of appetite is apparent among girls; therefore, we plan to take special care that they eat their portion of food.
The first floor needs more space for students; I am working on vacating the entire floor for our hostel. Ten students are interested in computer education. I asked the hamlet workers to explore the students’ abilities in sports in order to build their physical strength and stamina.
I was not able to visit the boys hostel because class was in session.