The Doorstep School Initiative
Two months ago, six-year-old Sushma Walimbe, a cherubic girl who still carries a broken doll with her wherever she goes, spent her mornings on heaps of gravel and sand on the construction site of a huge residential complex.
Now, she has a fixed routine and from 9.30 am to 12.30 pm she does her best to learn numbers, Marathi alphabets and poems. What she loves best is to draw houses and paint them in vivid colours. “She has discovered her own gift,” says her teacher, Madhuri Gote, with pride.
This is thanks to Door Step School, an organisation that was started in 1989 by Rajani Paranjpe and her college student, Bina Laskhari.
The experiment certainly invited a whole lot of challenges. “The biggest problem was to convince the migrant labourers to send their children to school.
Their attitude was: why waste time and effort when their stay at a particular construction site wasn’t going to be more than for a year or two. But now, things have changed. So much so that these workers come to us for guidance about how their children can further avail of secondary education.The syllabus, keeping in mind that children come from diverse cultural backgrounds and speak different languages, has been drawn up as kits on basic grammar and mathematics meant for easy and interactive teaching. Non-formal education to children includes lessons in hobby reading, drawing, basic grammar and mathematics. It also has facilitators conducting reading sessions that are called Book Fairies. “Book Fairies make sure that every child goes through at least 90 minutes of reading per week,” Paranjpe informs.
Paranjpe is also in the process of compiling a pictorial dictionary in Marathi with about 800 words to help those who don’t understand the language. “Most of the labourers are from Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh and our experience is that the children don’t take much time to learn in Marathi.
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Image Source: Manish Bansal