When we began working with Gopal Krishna School, Pubali Bora, a teacher who had been there for 5 years was the first to show interest in our work. We spent time in her class, observing, co teaching, helping her with lesson plans and inviting her in all our activities. The time spent with her helped us design solutions for her needs and soon she was not only planning and executing joyful, value and skill driven lessons, visiting children’s homes to build relationships and understand their context better, but was also helping us in creating teaching aids. With newer methods and relationships Pubali saw transformative results in attendance and academic output. Pubali was soon the point of positive influence for all the other teachers. Today Pubali is an active part of all scholastic and non-scholastic activities and a bright spot that has deepened our belief that even one stakeholder can bring about transformational change. From this learning we were able to make structural changes in the program to facilitate and support the change makers within the system
When we met Khushi, She was a quiet girl in third grade with no friends. She never spoke in class or showed any interest in schoolwork. Her homework was always incomplete, and it was difficult to get through to her. It was only after visiting her home that we learnt Khushi was responsible for taking care of her younger sister and doing household chores like cooking and chopping the wood while both her parents left for work as tea gardeners. It was also during this visit that her father told us about when he’d see her happiest were all those times, she spent dancing to songs on his phone. Naturally when we began Saturday clubs in the School, which provided platform for all children to showcase their talent and skills, Khushi spoke to her teacher about dance! Very soon she.began working for a dance performance that was to change so many things for her. After the day of the performance Khushi became an active part of Saturday club and with help of her teacher, she started teaching dance to other children. Her academic performance improved rapidly and she developed friendships in the classroom. Seeing this her younger sister became regular to school and like Khushi, is now exploring all the fun things she loves to do. Children like Khushi help us to see how access to opportunities that explores oneself, impact growth and development. What all children need is an education that looks at children holistically and provides holistic opportunities and access to flourish.
Kalpana Basumutary is the mother of Kusum in our grade 2 classroom at Amlighat School. She became an active participant at Parent Teacher Meetings once she began seeing Kusum grow both in academics and in the way, she communicated and took part in activities both in school and at home. Her investment made her ask questions and express needs in the school. She also joined a mother’s group in the community to inspire other parents to take part in the development of the school. On one occasion when Kusum was given a harsh punishment by a teacher and came home relating the incident to her mother, Kalpana went to visit the school and placed a complaint with the Principal while expressing the need to give teachers appropriate training so that they are able to share a friendly relationship with all students. Parents like Kalpana push us to work with parents in the community for the holistic growth of all children. Our work in the community is to find and work with community champions to build ownership.
Pooja has done her Graduation in literature from B. Borooah College, Assam, and Masters in Women’s studies, University of Guwhati. She had worked in the service industry for more than three years in different capacities before joining the Akikaran Pilot Phase. In the year 2017, Pooja took the challenge to nature the lives of children as a School Development Coordinator (Currently termed as Akikaran fellow). In two years of her engagement with the project, she acquired skills like Critical thinking and problem solving, team management, and building deeper and meaningful relationships with different stakeholders while working on whole school transformation. Her students have shown tremendous growth in their 21st century skills and are always enthusiastic to participate in different activities under the project due to her active involvement with the children. Currently, she is working with Hans Foundation towards her dream to build an inclusive and equitable society.