Overcoming Educational Disadvantages-Bridging the Opportunity Gap
Come June and along comes monsoon and the time for children to go back to school. For children it brings mixed feelings. For many of them, it is a time to rejoice as it means reuniting with their classmates and teachers. Excitement to buy that dapper new school bag they found in the TV ad, that new spiderman-shaped water bottle, new stationery, or even the brand-new cycle. For few, it marks the end of fun filled holidays and the beginning of trepidation of hot classrooms, homework, and endless tuitions! It is that time when parents also get knotted up, to cope with the mixed reactions of their wards. But they find relief in the assurance of having enrolled their children in the best possible schools in the city/town.
However, not all children have equal access to such privileges. Children from socio economically disadvantaged backgrounds often face numerous challenges such as the environment at home and in their community, low education levels of parents, limited access to financial & educational resources, customised learning that addresses their unique needs and support systems that encourage academic progress. This is where after-school education programs come into play. These initiatives are designed to not only provide additional educational support and opportunities for children coming from disadvantaged backgrounds but also provide individualised, customised learning that helps bridge the learning gap and unlocks their full potential. The experience of underprivileged children after attending after-school education programs are transformative, providing them with crucial support, and encouragement to pursue lifelong learning.
The VIPASANA program at Shraddha Maanu Foundation addresses this latent need. It is crafted to deliver an effective after-school learning atmosphere for socio economically disadvantaged primary school children. The centres equip them free of cost in critical skills in Math, English, Science, and Value education, conducted by a teacher trained in delivering curriculum using multiple intelligence methodology. It has been bringing happy smiles to the faces of both parents and children by addressing their biggest concern - elevating the children from their current circumstances.
Challenges faced by the parents from socio economically weaker sections - Parents from socio economically weaker sections often face financial constraints, which limit their ability to provide educational resources that ensure effective learning, such as books, tutoring or extracurricular activities. They may also have limited social connections or networks that can provide additional support for learning for their children. These parents often must work long hours or multiple jobs to make ends meet, leaving them with little time to engage in their children's education. This limited parental involvement can impact their children's academic performance and overall well-being. They also have limited access to other resources, such as libraries, technology, equipment or internet connectivity.
Here are the ways in which VIPASANA program has been supporting the underserved children: Underprivileged children often start school much later than their affluent peers. Factors such as low family income, lack of awareness & resources, and challenging home environments can impede their educational progress. They also have limited access to extracurricular activities, and enrichment programs. VIPASANA program plays a vital role in addressing these shortcomings by offering holistic learning opportunities, learning customised to each child’s learning style/needs, homework assistance and value education that builds skills to face the challenges of life. It bridges the opportunity gap through a wide range of activities-based interventions using music and technology.
Academic Support and Enrichment VIPASANA offers vital academic support to underprivileged children. While the learning materials aim at building the foundational literacy and numeracy (FLN) skills in children, SMF also provides the children with new bags, stationery, and other resources that these children enjoy receiving. The educators are trained on multiple intelligence for primary classes, are mostly from socio economically weaker sections and create a supportive learning environment where children receive individual attention and guidance, addressing their specific learning needs. Small classrooms with 12-15 children further ensure that learning is effective and enjoyable.
Enrichment happens when science is taught with a focus on building scientific temper through experiments & activities, rather than as lessons. Art and music lessons are designed to provide exposure to education with values based on Indian culture and ethos. It builds an identity & appreciation for our country, helps develop strong social skills and respect for others, develops self-esteem, resilience, a sense of responsibility while fostering creativity in children.
Holistic Skill Development VIPASANA aims at achieving holistic development in children by fostering the development of social, emotional, and physical skills. The design of the curriculum aims at engaging children to develop self-confidence, teamwork, communication skills and resilience, thereby facilitating development of a well-rounded personality in the children.
One significant advantage of VIPASANA is the positive impact on a child's personal growth and their empowerment. By providing a nurturing and supportive environment, it instils a sense of belonging and self-worth in children coming from socio economically disadvantaged sections. This also has a ripple effect on their parents, as they witness their wards’ progress and accomplishments, improving their self-esteem and motivating them to strive for higher goals.
Collaborative Efforts Addressing the needs of underprivileged children requires collaborative efforts from various stakeholders, including educators, policymakers, communities, and families. Government initiatives, community organizations, and partnerships with schools enhance the reach and effectiveness of after-school education programs. VIPASANA program collaborates with community schools and pools resources, expertise, and support, to ensure sustainable interventions that maximize the positive impact on underprivileged children.
Thus at a time when children have eagerly returned to schools, VIPASANA continues to broaden their horizon, igniting their passions, and helping them catch up academically, thereby improving their overall learning outcomes. The transformative impact of after-school education extends beyond the individual child, positively influencing families and communities by creating a ripple effect of hope and opportunity.
By investing in after-school education, we invest in the future of underprivileged children, giving them a chance to break free from the cycle of poverty and unlock their full potential. It is imperative that society continues to invest in and expand these initiatives enabling every child, regardless of their socio-economic background, to thrive and succeed.
Shraddha Maanu Foundation is a #nonprofit organisation seeking to end educational discrimination against #underprivilegedchildren and socio-economic discrimination against educated women, by helping graduate women from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds build resilient livelihoods through capacity building and enabling underprivileged children to access quality education in their foundational years.