Backbenchers bask in creative care and nurture

Guwahati-based NGO conducts programme to teach underprivileged children life's essential skills

  • Published 28.06.16
Volunteers and students of WAY foundation click a selfie

Guwahati, June 27: A Guwahati-based non-governmental organisation, WAY (We Are Young) Foundation, has gone beyond classroom education to teach life skills to economically disadvantaged students in government schools, under a programme called Backbenchers' Shaala.

Under the programme, the foundation has empowered 150 children with an approach that helps them overcome their limitations and adopt a positive outlook towards life.

The programme that began last year comprises, among others, lessons on leadership, stress management, problem-solving and decision-making. It engages creative art, music and theatre to help children learn the essential skills of life.

"The name Backbenchers' Shaala is on the lines of what former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam had once said, 'The best brains of the nation may be found on the last benches of the classroom'. Yet, in a classroom we tend to see backbenchers with a doubtful eye. The programme seeks to impart life skills education through collaborative project-based learning among the children who are in the backbenches of their lives," Indrajit Sinha, life skills trainer and director of the NGO, told The Telegraph today.

Life skills have evolved as a psycho-social intervention necessary for the holistic development of young people.

"As it is, much emphasis is laid on the academic development of a student whereas many overriding issues such as being indecisive or dealing with stress and emotion remain unsolved. It is this space that we look to take care of," Sinha said.

Supported by the Rajiv Gandhi National Institute of Youth Development and voluntary organisations such as Community - The Youth Collective and Pravah, the programme is under way in three government schools here.

"Fifteen volunteers from our organisation are currently engaged in teaching 150 high school students. Five more schools have shown interest in the programme. We plan to educate at least 150 more students by the end of this year for which we would need financial support from organisations here," Sinha said.

The foundation has over 300 volunteers engaged in different programmes, including workshops in private schools.

The programme so far has had a positive impact on students in terms of their interpersonal relationships, teamwork and leadership skills and the ability to manage conflicts. "The programme's impact can be gauged by the change stories that we are trying to stitch each day. One such story is of Gaurav, a differently-abled student who can now do projects on filmmaking, something which was only a dream for him a year ago," the life skills trainer said.

"In the coming months, we will try to reach out to more localities. Besides, we will also include private and government-run children homes in the city under the programme's ambit," Sinha said.