Children get a smart classroom

A 600sq ft room beside Tollygunge police station with just a blackboard and bare walls transformed into a smart classroom for a group of street kids on Children’s Day.

By Chandreyee Ghose
  • Published 15.11.17
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A smart class in progress at Nabadisha on Tuesday. 
Picture by Chandreyee Ghose

Tollygunge: A 600sq ft room beside Tollygunge police station with just a blackboard and bare walls transformed into a smart classroom for a group of street kids on Children’s Day.

The group of about 45 from the Rashbehari-Tollygunge area visits the room five days a week after school for some extra coaching as part of the Nabadisha education project, an initiative of Calcutta police. Some of the kids are school dropouts.

This Children’s Day, the children could not recognise their own classroom.

The room has got a fresh coat of paint and five cupboards, a water filter, a renovated toilet and a smart TV. There are separate benches and chairs for senior students and coloured ones for toddlers.

The Chinese consulate in Calcutta and an NGO, Rakshak Foundation, have joined hands with Calcutta police to give the street children a treat — their first smart classroom.

Over the past five months, volunteers from Rakshak Foundation have been visiting the place on weekdays from 3pm to 5pm to teach the kids through various activities.

“We found it difficult to segregate the students according to their age and requirement. Toddlers and adults would sit together, expecting value addition lessons from us,” a volunteer Anusri Sethi said.

The star attraction in the classroom is a smart TV with an LCD screen. “I have never seen such a TV before. Lessons will be fun here,” gushed 10-year-old Fultusi Das, who lives in a slum off Rashbehari Avenue. She echoed the sentiments of most of her friends.

“We plan to show educative films. The students will grasp better through audio-visual presentations and it will also go on to widen their horizon,” said Chaitali Das, the managing trustee of Rakshak Foundation.

According to the teachers, most of the kids had never been to a zoo. “They have little idea of the world outside their slums. Now we can show them the world through some exciting videos,” added Sethi.

Storytelling is an important part of teaching; so is painting. The kids have been given several easels and paintbrushes to do their own storytelling.

“I used to come here to revise my Bangla lessons. Looks like I will get to learn much more than that,” said 14-year-old Pinki Das.

Guests at the Children’s Day programme included education minister Partha Chatterjee, Ma Zhanwu, the Chinese consul general in Calcutta, and members of Rakshak Foundation and Rotary Club of Calcutta Millennium.

Next, the team plans to give Ekbalpur Nabadisha centre a makeover by this month-end.