Over 150 students covered
- Assess the level of the children in their ability to read and preferred language to communicate with.
- Begin the creation of a library with children’s books in Hindi and English
- Conduct reading sessions everyday with groups of children divided according to their age and reading ability
- Work on basic phonetics, letters, formation of words, increasing vocabulary in English by teaching new words that pertain to things the children see on a daily basis.
- Make use of games, charts, graphs etc to explain basic scientific concepts and keep the sessions exciting
- Conduct sessions on career counselling and basic General Knowledge with the use of PowerPoint presentations and videos
- Create a project report of each child throughout the duration of the program
Day wise analysis:
Day 1: 5th July 2016
- The children we started with were of 6th standard and 7th We dedicated each class an hour and a half where we had planned to focus on story telling, and introducing new words in English and Hindi.
- Each class was divided into 5 groups, each group having 6-7 children. All of them seemed pretty excited to start reading, and the response interns got was far more than what was expected.
- In the groups of students of sixth standard, volunteers made the use of various activities such as “cover-story prediction”, “picture-prediction”, “acting games”, “guessing games” with different story books in each group. The students were made to read, while the volunteers explained the story through the activities discussed above, and kept the students’ interest intact by playing around with names of animals, plants, flowers, geometric shapes etc. The children seemed quite comfortable in conversing in Punjabi, and were readily answering the questions in their local dialect. The volunteers gauged their capacity to be able to think out of the box, their creative ability as well their their comprehension levels of the words and sentences in the book.
- With the children of 7th standard, the volunteers went ahead to try books with a slightly higher difficulty level. Activities related to the students’s food preferences, cuisines in India, Festivals in India, Fruits and Vegetables etc were conducted along side the general reading session of different story books allocated to different groups. The students were given choice over the language of the books they would want to read, and almost all of them opted for Hindi. The volunteers kept explaining the plot of the story, along with prediction games regarding the cover page, the protagonists, etc. In the end, a small joint activity was conducted in each class where a child from each group had to tell the story they had read. The children were quite participative and it was very pleasant to see their story telling abilities.
- Conclusion: 6th standard- While most of children knew and understood Hindi, they seemed most comfortable in their local dialect. However their comprehension and reading skills of the Hindi language was appreciable. Even with certain pronunciation errors, they could understand what was written in the books. Their English language comprehension, however, was low in all of the class. While some of them could read in a broken manner, most of them could not read or understand the words given in the texts. The understanding of phonics and how letters are brought together to make words was low, and the volunteers had to engage in various activities in order to familiarise them with the concepts of word formations. The response level was good, however most of them were hesitant throughout to come up with answers, even when the answers were correct. Girls were more participative than boys. Certain children could not read at all, and the volunteers had to give special attention to them. In 7th standard, the level of comprehension was higher than that of the 6th standard children. While some children, especially girls, could read English properly and also had their spelling correct, it remained a weak point in their performance. However, each child was quite eager to learn and in some groups boys seemed more enthusiastic than the girls. When different English words were introduced, the children seemed to grasp them all in an appreciable speed. However, individual attention had to be given to certain children who could not read at all.
Day 2: 6th July
- The second day, we worked with the children of 8th As with the previous standards, we divided the whole class into groups first and then decided to do a joint session where we explained the concept of water cycle and also played a small game of Hang Man.
- Each group had around 7-8 children. The boys were more participative than the girls. The volunteers had to urge the girls to answer and participate to read the books. Overall, the children could read and speak in Hindi well, their comprehension levels quite high. However, in English, they could read out and spell basic words averagely, but could not comprehend the sentence and what it means. Sans some children, most of them were taught the concept of sentence formation.
- The children were well creative and brought out quite interesting responses in the game of “cover page prediction” and “guess games” about the protagonists and the story in general. They seemed very excited to respond to visuals more than they did to written texts. Most of the volunteers could not complete the storybooks they had planned for the children, since they were more enthusiastic to learn the language.
- Conclusion: Like the children of the lower classes, these children were, too, more comfortable in their local dialect. But they showed great enthusiasm to learn English and Hindi, which was quite welcome. Most of the children were comfortable with reading Hindi and Basic English text, and even tried to comprehend the language themselves. However, it must be noted that the girls were quite hesitant to speak up. They seemed drawn back and their lack of participation was a matter of concern. The volunteers tried to make them speak up and after consistent efforts, though, the level of participation did increase amongst them. It must be mentioned that in spite of a holiday in the school, the entire class turned up which showed their dedication and their high energy levels.
Day 3: 7th July
- In the first session, the volunteers conducted a “career counselling session” with the children of the 11th and the 12th We began the session by familiarizing the students with the courses available in the stream of arts and humanities, as they were all students of the arts stream. Our presentation covered the major courses available and the colleges/universities they could get an admission in, keeping their own interests in mind as well the options that they can easily avail.
- We covered all the major universities (Delhi University, Punjab University, etc).
- They were also made aware about the diploma, post graduate diplomas certificate courses that they can apply for.
- We also introduced them to the concept of Civil Services Examination – eligibility, test pattern and coaching centred available. We also cognised them with the criteria of admissions through the Sports Quota in various colleges.
- The response we had was quite mild, with the some boys approaching us with their career options in mind but the others did not participate much. The teachers of the school were extremely cooperative as they too prompted students to speak and engage with us. The girls were very reluctant to speak up, but at the end of the presentation, some of them did come up to us to talk about prospective careers they could pursue. It was quite encouraging for us too, to be able to see such young girls aware of their reality but still holding on to their dreams.
- In the second session, we had the students of 6th standard come in again. Each of the volunteer was allocated the same group she worked with in the previous session. In this session, while some volunteers decided to continue doing stories with the children, some of them went ahead and focussed on motivating the children to read English words and to teach them their pronunciation. Activities conducted included Word Antakshari, theatre activities, cover page prediction, picture prediction, short story making etc. Some volunteers even made the children recite stories or poems in English and the repose was quite appreciable.
- Conclusion: The children were quite enthusiastic and excited to study for the volunteers. Most of them remembered everything done in the previous session clearly and wanted the volunteers to teach them something new. They were keen to learn, and listened with attention. While the children did find it difficult to read English sentences and comprehend their meaning, their enthusiasm was not dampened and they wanted to try again if they failed. The session was quite energetic with volunteers left satisfied with the children’s performance.
Day 4: 8th July
- This day was to be the last day of our sessions. We had planned a reading session with the 7th standard and a general GK session with the 9-10th
- In the reading session, the volunteers checked on to the “homework” that they had given the children, and to their pleasant surprise, each one of them had done their homework and were enthusiastic to show it to their “teacher”. The volunteers used different story books with them in this session and since it was the last day with the children, new activities were not conducted. Instead the volunteers spoke to the children about their interests, their aspirations, their hobbies etc. The children responded well to both the story telling session and had opened up considerably with the volunteers and were more than eager to strike conversation with them.
- In the next session with the students of 9-10th standard, we introduced them to a video that spoke about different states and their capitals. Most of the children did not seem familiar with the capitals and did not show much interest in the video either. In the end, we showed a video about different historical places in India, and where to find them. Although the children did watch the second video, the response was quite average.
- Conclusion: In the reading session, the children came all prepared with their homeworks and were very eager to learn something new this time. The participation had increased and the children wanted to read English texts on their own. Their comprehension of the sentences was still a patchy area and the volunteers tried working on them. However, their pick up of the words was commendable. The enthusiasm was more this time, and even the girls were participating with their hesitation forgotten. As for the children of the 9-10th standard, they did not seem much interested in our session.
Certain analytical points that needs to be considered:
- The level of comprehension of the English language is low, and the children needs to be introduced to basic phonics, pronunciation, word formation and sentence formation. The volunteers had a look at their course textbooks and with the level of difficulty of their course, the children might not be able to comprehend their textbooks if the basics aren’t cleared to them.
- The children need to be encouraged to read more. The assessment of their creative abilities led us to the conclusion that if story books be given in their hands, they will be able to hon their creative flair in a better manner. The language of the books might be Hindi or Engligh or Punjabi, whichever the child prefers.
- The participation of the girls drop down as the standards increase. This should be taken seriously as given the societal realities they live in with, encouragement in schools play a very important role in shaping their individualities. Thus girls should be prompted more to answer in classrooms.
On a concluding note:
We at KITAAB had a wonderful time conducting the sessions in Akal Senior secondary school. We had Dr. Rajinder Singh as our mentor through out the programme and his assistance was of prime importance to our performance, for which we are grateful. We also want to thank the teachers for guiding us in our sessions and helping us understand the local culture a little better so that we may contribute in a a better manner to the children. The children were extremely energetic and if given proper exposures, they will be able to achieve great heights. Their eagerness to learn, and their mutual respect towards themselves as well as their teachers in worth mentioning. It was indeed a great pleasure to have worked with them, and we wish to go back in order to spend some more time.