An NGO working with economically disadvantaged children from a corporation-run school in Topsia is using the walls and staircases of the building as a canvas to sustain the interest of the students.
The idea behind it is to bridge the learning gaps and ignite the interest of the kids in coming to class, many of whom are first-generation learners, said a member of the NGO, Ek Tara.
With practically no support from home, most of the children lost interest in studies after two years of the pandemic.
The focus for the teachers now is to work on their foundational literacy, numeracy and communication skills.
They are using the walls and staircases to illustrate number tables, the solar system and the map of India.
The stress is on using references that these children are more familiar with, said Anupriya Bhattacharya, associate director, Ek Tara.
For example, “V” for these kids stands for Victoria Memorial more than volcanos, she explained.
While teaching about our seasons, the teachers use examples of festivals associated with each season.
“A reference to Durga Puja or Christmas helps them connect better to the subject,” said Bhattacharya.
The Kolkata Municipal Corporation’s primary school in Topsia is being developed as a model school to “motivate children”, where Ek Tara is doing the academic mentoring.
“Brightly lit-up spaces make children feel more welcome and they would want to come to school. We have done up the walls because then the whole surroundings become part of the education and children learn while they appreciate the surroundings,” said Vinita Saraf, founder and trustee, Ek Tara.
The curriculum caters to foundational numeracy and literacy because many of the children falter at a later stage as their basics stay weak.
“Many of these children do not have a permanent home with parents working as migrant labourers. Those who have homes do not get any academic support at home. What they learn is from the school alone,” said Bhattacharya.
Spoken English forms a major part of classroom teaching.
“During the last two years, many of the children lost interest in studies. Many of them did not have smartphones. If the family had one, usually the father would carry it to work and naturally, their education suffered. Through the model school we want to motivate them to come to school,” said Sandipan Saha, the Kolkata Municipal Corporation’s mayoral council member in charge of education.
Saha said that the splash of colours in the school building would help rebuild the image of corporation schools.
“We have teachers but despite that lower middle-class families would want to send their children to private English-medium schools. We are trying to change that,” he said.