Crossing from 2009 to 2010 for me was a very new and delightful experience… Not often would one find a smile on my face in the usual life here in Bangalore but Neelbagh saw me with a smile for a large part of the day… Smiling to the unconditional and instantaneous love from the children…… 🙂
I wonder: What prompted the children to invite me to their villiages, their houses and their classes at school to teach them? I dont find an answer apart from the instantaneous bonding that the children develop to anyone who bothers to give them a smile and an ear to listen to them… That was the only little effort I had put.
The highlight was the New Year Day which is celebrated little differently there than other places. Here, its the children who are at the giving end. Imaging recieving more than a 100 chocolates from as many kids with new year wishes. It was simply wonderful. And to add to this, we had a fancy dress competition (where i sat as a judge too 😉 ) , a dance by the students, a special lunch and a cricket match which I too played. Cant ask for a better Day to remember. Quite easily, the most memorable New year Day I have experienced.
Having known Ashraya’s excellent work in the field of Adoptions, especially inter-country adoptions, I had visited them and came to learn about their work at the Neelbagh rural school located at Rayalpad, close to Madanapally, but just within the Karnataka border (kolar district to chitoor district). It is essentially a school with residential facility for the not so privileged children of migrant labourers, of construction labourers and also of local residents. With LKG to 10th std, kannada medium and state board syllabus, they adress the needs of the people quite comprehensively. English too is taught quite well, thanks to their own commitment and also to volunteers from across the globe who come to help.
I have always liked Maths and Physics a little more than most other subjects and so when Ashraya said they would like me to teach a little Math to the 10th standard students who were to face the board exams in April, I was quite at home. Just that I had to teach to students who study in Kannada medium but that did not prove to be difficult since I knew a little kannada, the students a fair bit of English and the Maths teacher there who was ever willing to help…
The students of the Rural school in terms of the academic pursuit had only one difference and that was ‘Home Work’. Most of the students being day scholars, (200 / 300) had little opportunity to revise what they learn at school when they reach back home. Most are first generation learners. They also have some little chores or even bigger works to attend to when back from school. This means that what they learn at school is what they know. Given the same attention and support at home, I am sure they would do as well as city kids.
The 10th std students were 20 of them with an almost equal proportion of boys and girls. One could easily see the interest in music and dance among girls and sports among boys as the primary interests apart from studies. They learn also many vocational skills like carpentry, pottery, tailoring, music and dance, bee-keeping, paper craft etc apart from their regular classwork. Too much??? Well, this is one of the real key and strong points of Neelbagh. These are really valuable life skills which lend strength to the students. I have seen some very good work in these areas by the students and quite likely that this would support those who dont make it to the next stages of studies after 10th due to financial or other reasons. In Math itself, there were some who were average performers and some who were quite good with their knowledge, just as we would see in any other place. The main positive aspect the students had was their energy level to learn. They were ever ready to come to classes (I was teaching about 2-2.5 hrs a day apart from their regular 6 hr schooling) and ever ready to write tests and ever ready to get doubts clarified.
I hope that the students have gained a bit from what I could teach them and hope to interact further…….(2 weeks is not much). May all of us wish that they do well and more and more students from rural areas do well. I feel that investing time on children is the best investment one can make for having a prosperous India…
I have not written all of what I could… The 2 week experience was so big… Do write back if you need any further info….
Jai Hind !!!