Gyaan Ghar had a very successful first month of classes. Each day, students were driven from Malwa Public School to our house in New Lajpat Nagar directly after school, and remained in class from 1:30-3:00. The number of students increased from eight to twenty-one. However, quite a few of these new pupils are boys, and Gyaan Ghar is a learning center aimed primarily at helping female students; this is an issue we will address in the near future. Two registers were created: one for attendance and one to track students’ overall progress. The teachers, Radhika and Silky, developed a system through which one of them teaches for the first hour of the class while the other one supervises the students’ work, and then vice versa. They decided upon teaching basic curriculum to start, in order to spark the students’ interest. Lessons taught daily included drawing, poetry recitation, Hindi spelling, English sentences, and basic mathematics.
As stated in the objectives of this school, we wish to help these students develop their creative and artistic abilities, but also to ensure that they flourish inside the classroom. Thus, the issue of teaching directly from their school syllabus has arisen. As the learning center is at its preliminary stages and students range from upper kindergarten to third standard, it is difficult for two teachers to teach material to children who differ so greatly in age and ability. In the future, we may divide students by grade level and assign one teacher to upper kindergarten and first standard and the other to second and third standards. This time has been very beneficial to the students as well as useful in making us aware of many issues we must address.
I should also inform you of my experience at Pratham, an NGO working on providing supplementary education to less fortunate children living in slum areas of Delhi. When my father met Mr. Sharad Pawar in New Delhi and happened to mention the establishment of Gyaan Society, Mr. Pawar suggested that I observe Pratham's work and arranged for us to visit them. I spent half a day visiting their various programs and learned that their primary mechanism of imparting education is by setting up mobile and stationary classrooms within the communities and engaging teachers who are also high school students from the same communities.