The human brain starts developing at a tender age. By the time, a child is six-seven years old, 90 per cent of the brain development has already taken place. This makes it crucial to ensure from an early age, children are being taught in a manner that will allow them to reach their maximum learning potential. With this aim in mind, Atul Adhyapika Project was launched by the Atul Foundation in 2016.
Atul Foundation is engaged in serving the society with diverse initiatives in the fields of education, empowerment, health, relief, infrastructure and conservation. It is committed to fostering sustainable socio-economic upliftment, particularly in the lives of the underprivileged through relevant programs. Under the education program, the Foundation is reaching around 15,000 children through three schools and other education projects. Atul Adhyapika is one of the flagship projects of Atul Foundation, which provides quality education to more than 5,000 primary children through 85 Adhyapikas in 74 villages from six districts of South Gujarat. The project aims at transforming the lives of underprivileged children by strengthening primary education. The project was initiated in remote villages having low literacy rates, poor socio-economic backgrounds, and poor school infrastructure and education resources.
The Foundation identified educated, unemployed but passionate women from remote villages and trained them to become good primary teachers. The Adhyapikas were extensively trained for six months and were placed in their own or nearby village schools to teach primary children. They teach basic skills of reading and learning, arithmetic, values and life skills through a thoughtfully curated | outcome-based curriculum.
What is Atul Adhyapika Project?
Atul Adhyapika Project is an initiative to transform the lives of lesser privileged children by strengthening primary education.
Children are not passive receivers of information, they are active learners. Through activity-based learning practised in this project, children play an active role in their own learning where they learn by “doing” than just “observing”. Tools such as three-dimensional models, experiments, puzzles, flash-cards and role-play methods are used to keep the child engaged in learning.
The pulse of the project lies in the belief that although the developmental patterns in children are universal, every child is special and a unique gift to the universe. The goals of the project revolve around the understanding that every aspect of the developmental stages during the young age, in the personal, social, emotional, physical and intellectual domains are interrelated and interdependent. No development happens in isolation, hence the project goals and curriculum looks at the holistic growth of the child.
The structure adopted by the teachers of Atul Adhyapika adapts itself to theme-based teaching and learning practices.
Outcome of the Project
The outcome of the project has been wholesome and has contributed to the holistic development of children. The children learnt the skills of organic farming, teamwork, and interdependence, among others. Children now love to attend their classes and show more interest in their studies. Children actively learned the basics of languages and arithmetic. Apart from academic concepts, activity-based learning also helped them to express themselves through various forms of art and craft. Many children developed a love for reading and storytelling. Over 5000 children are benefitted each year through the project.
In their teaching journey, the Adhyapikas also grew personally and professionally. Apart from improving their knowledge and teaching skills, their work has also improved their status in their villages. Once an ordinary village girl, she is now a loving teacher for children, a respectable person for parents and family members. School officials recognise and appreciate their contribution in the development of their school children. As of now, there are about 85 Adhyapikas working under the project.
The project also improved the learning environment and culture of schools and faliyas. School management committees are now active and take interest in the activities of the schools.
Atul Adhyapika Amid COVID-19
During the tough phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, Adhyapikas took up various initiatives such as teaching students in small groups in faliyas, planning balshibirs and masti-ki-pathshala, setting circle time activities, planning awareness programs, planning home visits and parents meeting and encouraging students to set up their own poshanwadis (kitchen gardens). These initiatives kept children positively occupied and they learnt from the activities.
Jayshreeben resides in the Panas village of Kaprada taluka. Her educational qualifications include a PTC and a Bachelor’s degree in Arts. She always dreamt of becoming an educator and is today working as an Atul Adhyapika since the inception of the project in 2017.
Jayshreeben is one of the enthusiastic Adhyapikas and her sincerity is evident in her work. She is always curious to learn and grow in her field. Her greatest motivation is the transformational change that is reflected in her students and their parents. She was delighted to hear when a parent remarked, “Our kid has become smart now and likes to study. We will make sure that he graduates from a good college”. These warm words motivated her to work harder for the kids in her village.
During the lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic when schools were closed, Jayshreeben undertook faliya teaching and students from different schools came to learn from her. Because of her teaching methodology, students enjoyed coming to her daily and participated in all the activities. Shreya is a third-grade student from a private school at Nana Ponda. Shreya was very happy to join the faliya shikshan and she did not want to go back to her own school. When the private school schoolteacher started teaching students, Shreya did not like it and requested her parents to send her to a local government school where Jayashreeben was teaching. In October, 2021, Shreya took admission in the Panas government primary school and is happily learning daily from Jayashreeben. It is not about the school; it is always about the teachers and his | her love and dedication towards the work. Jayashreeben is a living example of a good teacher and a change agent.