In the year 2020, within the heart of the Ashraya Education Program, a remarkable transformation was set in motion. It was a pivotal moment that would redefine the educational journey for many young minds. With a visionary spark, the Education Program team launched an Alternate school under the banner of open-schooling through the National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS).
But why did this change come about? The answer lay in a series of pressing challenges that were quietly but profoundly affecting the children in the program:
Challenges in other schooling system for the DNT communities:
Imagine being a child forced to endure an 8-hour training session every day, picked by someone else. Sadly, this is the reality for many kids in schools. Over half their day is spent on subjects that often fail to capture their interest.
In the Denotified tribes' communities, violence looms large, creating constant worry among parents about the kind of upbringing their children will have. There's a tangible fear that, sooner or later, their kids might be drawn into the shadows of violence.
Rote learning, an age-old problem, persists despite educational advancements. Boards like SSC, CBSE, IGCSE, and others struggle to break free, often neglecting concept-based learning.
How Open-schooling changed the game:
Choice for Children: With open-schooling, the children finally had a say in what they learn. They could select subjects from a vast list, giving them the freedom to explore their passions. Subjects like "Value-based Education" ceased to be mere side notes; they became scoring subjects. This shift allowed the team to address the problem of violence within the community.
Skill as a Subject: Open-schooling recognized that education extends beyond textbooks. It introduced practical subjects like "Tailoring." For instance, children from the Waghri community, a community known for selling clothes, were offered the opportunity to acquire tailoring skills.
Tailored to the Community: The curriculum became flexible, enabling the team to concentrate on reading programs, soft skills, and hard skills. Education could now be tailored to meet the specific needs of the community.
Project based and Experiential Learning – Ashraya adapted Project based and Experiential Learning pedagogy in our curriculum to make sure children are to applying their knowledge in real-life situations, enhancing their understanding and retention of concepts
A few examples of things we could achieve that were not attainable within the mainstream schooling system,
Nisha demonstrating the functioning of Sanitary Napkin Vending Machine to the whole school – Aarambh Program – An initiative towards awareness on gender equality and Sexual Reproductive Health.
Pranali showcasing the terrace garden with various herbs. The terrace garden was part of her 8th grade Unit End project.
Children taking their oaths as various ministers as part of the Student Parliament – An initiative to involve students in decision making at various level.
A unisex-football-team prepared and coached by a Student-Alumni of Ashraya. They took part in a football tournament in nn initiative towards gender equality
4th grade children showcasing the importance of Entrepreneurship in the community.
In essence, this transformation wasn't just about teaching; it was about understanding and adapting to the diverse needs and challenges of these young minds and the communities they belonged to. Ashraya's journey with open-schooling was a commitment to empower, engage, and offer an education that extended beyond the classroom, shaping brighter futures, one child at a time.