Narrow and deep, rather than wide and shallow

Over the years we have concentrated on a few students and not attempted to handle big numbers from the community that we serve. We have adopted this approach rather consciously. Our accent has been on the potential of the children and their ability to absorb the investment of time and resources that the Society provides. The numbers that we mentor are small in relation to the student population of the Community but we believe that if we shape a few young minds well, they would, in turn, become change agents of the Society in times to come. We will invest narrow and deep and not make it broad and shallow.

In this quest, there have been two very important developments related to our Programme in the recent past:

(a) We are consciously moving towards establishing our Day Boarding Programme and moving away from the SPRY idea. This is for two reasons: We do believe that the children are unable to cope effectively with the very long hours that the SPRY Programme demands The second reason is that we believe that we should be able to more effectively build creativity and completeness in the learning, if the children are with us the whole day and save the time travelling to school. We will in this programme be able to give better attention to nutrition, health care and the Mental and Emotional Health of the child. We expect also to be able to give better attention to the Social Health of the child in the context of the long hours that they will spend with us. One notices that in spite of the long hours with us the children will enjoy more leisure and spend quality time with their parents under this new arrangement.

(b)The second very important idea is that we shall concentrate on developing outstanding candidates who will become leaders and change agents in due time. These wards of ours will be chosen from among the disadvantaged in the community. They need not necessarily be the poorest possible, although these could also qualify.

Without realising that we were following Mr Amratya Sen’s Human Capability approach, we have been attempting it. Dr Sen talks of Instrumental, Intrinsic and Positional value of Education. This follows on from Sen’s ideas of Freedoms.

Instrumental values represent the extent to which education secures jobs and promotes individual political and social participation. Our original and primary objective was to help our children secure jobs in this growing economy full of opportunities. The objective is a little more advanced beyond what Dr Sen envisages since we are attempting to secure for our wards, not just jobs but those that are well paying and capable of making a paradigm change in their living styles. Emphasis on the Social health of the students is meant to enable their wider social participation and the teaching of their rights and possibilities under the RTI (Right to Information Act) are meant to promote their political emancipation.

Intrinsic values mean the benefits that accrue to an individual beyond the instrumental factors – increased enjoyment of literature, music or improved self-confidence in interaction with others. Our spending money on the teaching of music, dance, arts and crafts apart from yoga and games and our conscious efforts to help these students travel and meet with people across a wide spectrum are stepping in that direction. Efforts are also made to cultivate soft skills which enhance the personality of the student and increase their self-confidence.

Positional values refer to how education has benefitted the individual in relation to others who have the same level of education but possibly from a different background. Certain types of Institutions are able to help measurements made by job givers and others overlook inequalities in which people have grown up. We wish to address both these aspects so that our students will be able to measure up to the prescriptions of job givers and also fill the gaps arising out of their upbringing and environment. Our hope is that our Institution will be able to deliver these advantages to those under our care

Social Opportunities are being promoted by us by our encouraging our students the freedom to pursue higher education. We consciously prepare them for this possibility, through appropriate career counselling and assistance to a limited extent at the post twelfth class stage, rather than seeking employment after school. Steps are taken to build pride in the self and the Community identity, their cultures and their history.

To implement these ideas there have been two very important developments related to our Programme:

(a) We are consciously moving towards establishing our Day Boarding Programme and moving away from the SPRY idea. This is for two reasons: We do believe that the children are unable to cope effectively with the very long hours that the SPRY Programme demands The second reason is that we believe that we should be able to more effectively build creativity and completeness in the learning, if the children are with us the whole day and save the time travelling to school. We will in this programme be able to give better attention to nutrition, health care and the Mental and Emotional Health of the child. We expect also to be able to give better attention to the Social Health of the child in the context of the long hours that they will spend with us. You will notice that in spite of the long hours with us the children will enjoy more leisure and spend quality time with their parents under this new arrangement.

(b) The second very important idea is that we shall concentrate on developing outstanding candidates who will become leaders and change agents in due time. These wards of ours will be chosen from among the disadvantaged in the community. They need not necessarily be the poorest possible, although these could also qualify.

We realise that to achieve these goals we will need to improve our ideas on access and enrolment. Also, address the quality of ‘Learning’ as opposed to the quality of ‘Teaching’. We are moving away from ‘Teaching to ‘Learning’. We also need to improve learning conditions. We are therefore investing in better textbooks, equipment, and teacher training. We are hoping to improve teacher and student motivation.

We are also aware that investment in Health, hygiene, sanitation and immunization apart from nutrition need to be part of the Education Programme since there can be no quality education without good health and the prospect of normal growth. Improving living conditions is essential – so it is that we took up the question of helping the women of the community earn.

You will thus see that we have addressed the following areas:

(a) Pre-school education Programmes and in-school health and nutrition Programme. Those following us are aware that we are soon to commence our Early Child Learning Centre.

(b) Curriculum and syllabi that are focussed on ’Core skill’ at the Primary level and emphasis on ‘trainability‘ at the higher levels

(c) In-service training for teachers linked directly to classroom practice. Our contract with discovery, Gurgaon is a step meant to promote this goal.

(d) Lengthening the school day and the school year to provide more ‘Learning time. We now run a ten hour a day school and have no conventional holidays for summer and the winter. Children spend their time at our premises learning many things beyond the school curriculum.

(e) Investment in instructional material and infrastructure. This is a continuous process limited only by our rather thin resources.

The other aspect that interests us is the one related to evaluation and assessments. We are comprehending the idea of ‘Evaluating what’ and the ‘How’.

All these initiatives we hope will help us to train a young ward and make him/her a complete person capable of becoming Community leaders and eventually significant change agents. If we succeed we would not have invested all this effort in vain.

PYDS Web Admin