Sunday, 24 February 2013

Day 3

This morning we travelled to a downtown office block and met Mr Ram Pal Singh  (pictured above, centre), president of the All India Primary Teachers Federation (AIPTF) and Mr Rama Kant Rai, Convenor of India’s Global Campaign for Education Coalition (pictured above, far right).
This gave us the opportunity to find out more about teaching in India from the point of view of influential adults. We had formulated questions based on our discussions with children during the previous two days.
For instance we heard that some teachers had only 20 days training before being thrown in the deep end in front of a class! They are also obliged by law to take part in censuses of trees, animals and people, and in election counts. This partly explains some of the issues we saw the previous day at the primary school. We thought this lack of training and additional duties were appalling.
Short term contracts also meant children lacked continuity in teaching. The members of AIPTF said that the staff: student ratio should be 1:30 but the national average was 1:50 or higher. This leads to many problems for the teachers and the students they are teaching.
Our hosts then invited us to another Delhi Municipal Council school. It was hugely different to the school we had visited the previous morning and had much better facilities and more classrooms. This really showed us how unequal schools are even though they are within the same Delhi local government administration.
In the afternoon we met with the YP group. This is an organisation that uses peer educators between the ages of 18 and 21 to teach children from urban slum settlements. One of their projects teaches life skills to help increase children’s memory, concentration and health awareness.
We talked to two of the peer educators Niharika, 18 and Raghav, 18. They were both extremely passionate about helping to improve the children’s knowledge and life skills. They also said they were learning a lot themselves from the children. Our talk with these two passionate young adults was truly inspirational.
After meeting the peer educators we were taken to one community where the educators work and we were able to interact with the children. They lived in a barely noticeable slum just a few yards from one of Delhi’s main tourist attractions. We sat in the park and discussed the problems that the children face on a daily basis to get to school. One was that they had to walk for about 45 minutes as they couldn't afford the school bus. There was no help to provide the children and the families with this money.
Today we have heard the other side of the teachers’ story and also saw that the YP project helps to get children into school by getting the correct documents filled in. Without the proper birth certificate and proof of address it is impossible to enrole at school.  It has been very useful for adding to our fact file and has been a thoroughly interesting day.

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