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TBI Blogs: 7 Simple Ways You Can Help Educate Slum Children in India

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Overcoming the lack of education in slum children requires an innovative approach. The non-formal classroom can become attractive for these kids with green open spaces, practical timings, and something thrown in for the mothers and the community.

Every child deserves the best. Some get it on a platter, while others are not that fortunate. They are unaware, afraid, reluctant, restricted, or shy. It is upon the fortunate ones to go out of their way to light lamps of new opportunity in each young life. Here are seven ways we can bring the under-served on board:

Open green spaces

Planting as part of non formal education.
Children in celebratory costumes planting in the Aravindam Foundation centre at Kamdhenudham Gaushala, Gurugram.

Open spaces, with a clean and green environment, are naturally attractive, inspiring, and soothing. Aravindam volunteers scout for community spaces like temples and panchayat lands where vacant rooms and grounds can be put to good use. Volunteers repair and paint existing rooms and discarded furniture. Extensive planting of flowering shrubs, trees and grasses is an essential prerequisite.

Children, women and youth of the community are actively involved in the work, sharing moments, meals, singing, and fun. As the spaces develop, so do the stake holders. Future beneficiaries join hands, local entrepreneurial people—especially the women—often take charge, and the centre runs virtually on auto-pilot.

Reading opportunities

Library non-formal learning
The library is a place for storytelling and reading with fun activities.

Reading is still an attractive occupation for children, provided the right mix of books. Each Aravindam Foundation centre starts with a library of picture books and cartoon-based historical, mythological, and inspirational storybooks gathered from donors. Children are naturally inquisitive, and quickly lap up any such opportunity. Some engrossing storytelling, reading, and singing sessions in the library get the tempo going.

Effective time/schedule management

With an energising environment and engaging activities, enrolments soon go into waiting lists.

Slum children often take up household or other chores to help the family. It is imperative to time their visit for non-formal education for least disruption to this need. 3-5 PM is usually a good time. It takes some cajoling initially, but soon enough, the advantages become visible, and the children themselves become agents of change.

Making learning exciting

Non Formal Learning
The Aravindam Centres help the children with their homework assignments, and have a daily fun activity in the form of music, theatre, dance, or martial arts.

Getting children to an exciting afternoon of non-formal learning enhances confidence and personality, creating a motivational ripple effect. This propels the supported children, and also their unsupported peers, to attend regular school in the morning.

Birthday celebrations

Non Formal learning.
Birthday celebrations are a great way of imbibing a sense of belonging and bonding.

Once a month, birthday celebrations are organised for all children born in that month. These are sponsored by volunteers or donors whose birthday falls in the same month.

Cultural events

Non formal learning
Janmashtami at Aravindam Foundation, Gurugram.

Cultural events, aligned to existing festivals, become a platform for children to proudly display their talents to the community. The community in turn becomes the owner, custodian, and propeller with its own identity stake to help the centre in its objectives.

Mother/Community involvement

Non Formal Learning. Stitch training.
Adding value for the mothers motivates them to accompany their children to the centre.

It is often easier to motivate the mothers to bring their children to the classroom if there is something for them too. Mothers benefit greatly from vocational training (stitching, salon, arts & crafts, etc.), entrepreneurship basics (display, marketing, basic accounts, etc.), and support in selling their product(s) at better value.

You can help Aravindam create online and field-based career support for under-served children, and sustain women. To know more, contact the Foundation via email.

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Aravindam Foundation, an inspirational platform for creative learning for underprivileged children and women, has partnered with Hult Prize Foundation to bring the Clinton-supported million dollar Hult Prize for Students’ Social Entrepreneurship to Indian Universities.