Empowering adolescents @ the edge of digital literacy
VIEWS working on education especially for Children’s Education, Education for Adolescent Girls, Digital Literacy, Inclusive Education for Visually Challenged Students in Odisha and Andhra Pradesh.
Project Cheysta: Empowering Adolescent Girls
Bhubaneswar-the state capital of Odisha is a home to an ever-increasing migrant workforce from the interior pockets of the state looking for employment opportunities. Majority of these men and women land up in the slums and join the unorganized sector ending up as construction workers, municipality sweepers, housemaids etc. The children are often left behind to fend for themselves. Although enrolled to nearby government schools, a majority of these children remain disinterested in studies. Many of them –especially the girl’s dropout and stay back at home to raise their younger siblings and cook for their parents. These young women subsequently end up joining their parents in the unorganized sector and the vicious cycle is repeated. Several houses in the slums are replete with stories of early marriages, death due to early child birth, sexual violence and young mothers deserted by their husbands.
There is an immediate need of intervention to help these girls reach their full potential by providing them the right support, education and resources. These young women must be motivated to spend more time in school and complete their education. They must be sensitised that discontinuing their school to carry out domestic duties, such as caring for younger siblings, cooking and whiling away their time, undermines their opportunities for education and employment.
The overall project goal is to inspire and empower 100 disadvantaged adolescent girls to transform their lives through life skills education, employment and entrepreneurship.
VIEWS has facilitated the return of 100 adolescent girls to mainstream education by providing them with learning opportunities, skills training, and the knowledge needed to become empowered members in their communities. To reduce the prevalence of child labor and child marriage among adolescent girls, providing vulnerable girls with educational opportunities, skills training, and the knowledge needed to become empowered members in their communities.
Meeting educational deficit among girls in urban slums of Bhubaneswar.
“At Cheysta, I learnt to share my opinions”
While gender equality is close in primary education, the parity does not extend to secondary schooling and adolescent girls continue to be debarred from schools and consequently the workforce
We at Project Cheysta handhold adolescent girls –both high schoolers and dropouts in the age group of 13 to 21 to complete their education by providing them the requisite support in terms of remedial classes, coaching, exposure visits, life skill lessons, career counselling and more.
Resource Centre: The Resource Centre for adolescent girls established in the Shikharchandinagar slum of Bhubaneswar is a space for the girls to interact and learn.
“We will rise”: Breaking barriers that surround the education of girls.
Equipped with modern Information Technology facilities and a library with relevant resource materials, the centre can be easily accessed by the girls as and when required. The space aims at involving the young girls in different informative and educative training sessions and discussions with the help of rich audio video contents in order to renew their interest in higher education.
Skills training for Girls: The project imparts market aligned skill trainings like Tailoring, Beautician and Retailing with technical support from the certified trainers to enhance the employability of girls. Computer classes are organized to help familiarize the girls with technology, use of mails, search engine, internet and social network etc. The centre provides career counselling, spoken English and personality development classes besides conducting special sessions on networking, business planning, financial literacy and creativity in order to boost the entrepreneurship skills among the girls.
“Every additional year of school can increase a girl earning power by 10 to 20 percent. However, while boys are attending schools, girls are being left behind, marrying earlier and working in menial jobs”
Remedial Classes: Remedial classes are held for existing high schoolers as well as those who have dropped out of school on a daily basis. These girls are counselled to return to schools and complete their education. The centre holds remedial classes in English, Math and Science to help these students to prepare before they re-enroll themselves. Admission assistance and all required support are extended to the students to ensure their retention in schools.
Life skills Education: A life skills education training model has been developed under the project and trainings are being imparted to the girls with technical support from experts. The training sessions include topics such as self-awareness, decision making, menstrual heath, sex education, on avoiding early pregnancy and sexual transmitted diseases.
Creating Change Agents: We aspire to create change agents within the community and create “super girls” who can identify problems within the community by putting their own micro ideas into action for social change. It is encouraging to see our girls lead their own micro projects, discover their inner qualities and strengthen themselves as leaders.
“Our schools might be far from perfect but we still have the responsibility to show up every day and learn as much as we can.”
The activities have ensured a visible improvement in the learning levels of the Underprivileged adolescent girls. The interventions have helped the girls gain self-confidence, take decisions and speak out their opinions. The regular classes have led to an increased attendance in local schools. Many students have improved in maths and science as evident from the monthly tests. The girls have learnt self-introduction in English and can confidently speak about things around them. The beautician and tailoring trainings have encouraged girls to plan their own units for income generation. Learning computers have made them surf for contents that interest them. Students have been showing interest in pursuing higher education, seeking assistance to gain admission into schools or to know how they can access loans or financial assistance to start their own units. These changes have made us believe that the project is moving towards the intended goals.
Inclusive Education for Visually Challenged Students
Children with visual impairments face disproportionate challenges in learning and by the time they reach college, they are significantly under-represented in science, mathematics and other disciplines. In all the 19 schools for the visually challenged in Odisha, students continue their struggle to learn not only without sight but also without text books. Newspapers have time and again carried reports of students voicing their demands for Braille text books especially for the senior classes in the state remains dedicated to printing of text books from class 1 to 7 since the cost is borne by the central government scheme Sarva Siksha Abhiyan. With no similar provision of funds for senior classes, the high school students are mostly left to the mercy of teachers and a few notes handed over by their seniors. In schools, where blind students try to record the lecture, the sound is often unclear and it is difficult to connect with what the teacher writes on the blackboard.
To start with, VIEWS discussed the idea with various schools and Odisha Blind Association for selection of books of subjects that require to be urgently recorded. As per suggestions, books were finalized from class 8th to Intermediate under state syllabus with the guidance of blind college teachers. We decided to brand the books as “Cheysta” (An effort) to get the students familiarize with the audio books. The team set up an Audio books recording facility in Bhubaneswar where professionals were engaged to record their voices for the books. The 58 books in audio files were converted in different formats (cd, mp3) to be distributed to schools and organizations working for blind.
VIEWS conducted a state level audio books lunching ceremony in collaboration with Association for the Blind, The audio books in CD, pen drives were distributed to various schools and college students.
Prof. Prasant Bhuyan, President of Odisha Assocaition for the Blind, Bhubabaneswar:“Every visually impaired student has the right to access education. We thank the team and all those who have contributed for making this project a successful one. The audio books will certianly help bridge the gap between visually impaired students and education. We request VIEWS to create more audio books for higher education and establish a odia blind student-friendly website and andoid app to reach all the students at any time“.
Mrs. Minati Singa, Senior Journalist, Times of India :The visually impaired students have been facing multiple challenges time and again due to unavaialability of text books. I am happy to learnabout the use of technology to make their learning more convenient. However, the students should be equipped with other supporting devices too if we want them to realy make use of the audio books
Mr. Kumar Manish, UNFPA, Bhubaneswar :Technology has helped us crossed many obstracles and it is wondeful to see how this has helped us overcome the barriers between education and visual impairdness. I would want all the students to make use of the audio books to achieve the their their goals in life.
The project helped to provide a less restrictive environment for students with visual impairments and meet their unique educational needs. The project covered 15 schools and will reach more than 2000 poor visually impaired students and create visible impact by improving their education and improving their quality of life. The initiative contributed in the learning levels of the students and helped fill the gaps in the existing education system. The audio books empowered the students to enhance their academic potential and they are expected to perform better in the examinations. The audio books supported in making studies more interesting as well as convenient for the students who can listen to the books as per their convenience and on the go. This initiative is also likely to ensure their regular attendance in schools and reduce the number of high schools drop outs.
Education for Slum Children
Jalimunda slum consisting of 315 households with a population of 1918 households. A majority of these slum dwellers comprise of tribal communities from Munda tribal communities from Mayurbhanj, Balaore, Keonjhar. A few inmates also belong to Jharkhand, Bihar and Andhra Pradesh. Addiction to local alcohol ‘handia’ keeps both men and women disinterested to work and contribute to their family’s income. This had led to neglect of children’s education and health. In absence of family planning, most families have more than four children and the girls in this community are forced to discontinue education and take care of their younger siblings. In the Jalimuda slum where we intend to implement the project, parents go out for daily wages and children are often left behind to fend for themselves. Although enrolled to nearby government schools 4 kms from the slum. Majority of these children remain disinterested in studies. Many of them –especially the girl’s dropout and stay back at home to raise their younger siblings and cook for their parents. They are migrated from tribal pockets and struggling their day to day livelihoods. Several houses in the slums are replete with stories of early marriages, death due to early child birth, sexual violence and young mothers deserted by their husbands.The mothers of the children in this urban slum engaging in collection of waste and daily labours and facing various problems related to social, financial and health issues.
VIEWS established a School in Jalimunda and Shikarachandi Slum of Urban Bhubeswar. We are providing quality education to 90 poor and underprivileged children in these two slums. Swiss League Catholic Women Fund supported for establishment of child friendly education centres, 7 teachers, Coordinator and Education Coordinator holistic empowerment of children through innovative teaching methods. Along with education, we also organising personal health and hygienic solutions, parents’ teachers’ meetings and door visits for overall improvement of the children’s education in these slums.
FACILITATING DIGITAL LITERACY
The Digital Literacy Project was launched on 1st of January 2019 by Sr. Journalist of Times of India Minati Singha. We received 5 laptops from AI which were used in the Digital Resource Centre set up in Shikarachandi Slum with two project staff members. As many as 58 adolescent girls and 54 boys were trained in computer basics in 12 months. The digital literacy programme covered various subjects including fundamentals of computers, benefits of computers, Microsoft word, excel, power point, internet, use of search engines, email ID creation etc. LCD projectors, videos and other teaching aids were used to teach the students. Besides the digital classes, we organized remedial classes for dropout girls and young women. Trainings were conducted on fundamental rights of children, menstrual hygiene, bag making, importance of Girls education etc. To sensitize the adolescents, a workshop titled “our slum-our dreams,’ was held. Views also organized songs, dance competition and rangoli competitions from time to time to explore hidden talents of the students. Each adolescent was engaged in teaching 3 children 3 hours every week as a part of SoCCs redemption. The SoCCs manager maintained the individual SoCCs passbook for the adolescents. The project created impact to enhance digital literacy among 112 adolescents while helping another 300 poor needy children to receive education.
“It was at this Cheysta Resource Centre that I got a chance to touch Computer for the first time. I can now operate it confidently,” said Uma Jena, a student of class 8.