At Adharshila, students from 6th to 10th grade (ages 12-18) are also student teachers, aka Shikshan Mitras. They teach primary schoolers and lead baal samoohs (children's groups). You can read below what Amit and Jayashree have to say about the program, and check out some Shikshan Mitra profiles!
Our Shikshan Mitras managed the primary section show from 6 in the morning to 2 in the afternoon, non stop. They did a great job. This was their first year of teacher training. In the process they also read Gijubhai’s Divaswapna, made teaching aids and thought a lot about education of adivasi children.
Actually this concept of children helping other children to learn was being practiced since the very first year, but this year it took firm form and children were able to take independent responsibility. Our role being limited to weekly meetings to review and plan.
We have been trying to create a climate where every year some children opt to teach while studying. So a flow of student teachers is maintained. The role models have now been created and we are sure that every year some children will opt for this programme. As for the post 8th students it is compulsory as this is a condition for admission after 8th .
We are trying to achieve this for middle school also. This year one 10th student taught math to 7th and 8th classes. He was the only one. Next year hopefully there will be more senior students and so some more responsibility will be shared at the middle level.
Why? And what about the quality of teaching?
Why? Mainly because, one, it is difficult to get good teachers. Those who pass the 12th are constantly on the look out for government jobs. They come and go every year.
Two, it is much easier for these students to use alternative methods for teaching as they have gone through it themselves.
Three, small children are much more comfortable with children than with adults.
Very early we were convinced that we have to motivate the children to learn on their own. And the child’s learning programme should not be dependent on teachers too much.
And finally another reason is economics.
We cannot say that all children are great teachers. They too are good and bad. Teaching is a very conscious exercise. But we have found that as far as skill transferring is concerned they are at par with adult teachers. For the understanding of concepts we have to design learning tools and exercises so that concepts are cleared in the process of doing these. Even the elder teachers are not able to go into concepts as they themselves have not learnt them. They too have just passed exams. (Remember we are talking about a tribal area in Madhya Pradesh where until now any body who passed the 12th and had fifty grand could become a teacher.)
Some children tend to come into adult mode as soon as they become teachers. But this is what we talk about in the weekly meetings: their behavior in class and their relationship with children.
All said and done we think it is a better system. At least the terror of "the teacher" is not there. If the child can go through primary school without fear it is much better than a lot of learning.
Hey, when do these Shikshan Mitras study?
The Primary and Middle Section timings are staggered. Simple. There is an overlap. Some of these Mitras help only in their free time. Some who do the full act study after the school and night. They stay on the campus. You can see an English class or an involved discussion on the Narmada Dam at 10 in the night.
After this first step, the success of this program depends on...
* The flow of older children opting to help in running the school. To maintain the flow we have started giving a fee concession to children who do full time. We are also giving a scholarship to children who stay with us after 10th. We have also promised to provide part financial help in their higher studies.
* On the quality of learning material, games, exercises that we use or make. Two four day workshops were conducted to prepare learning aids for the primary section. Another one week workshop will be held in June.
* It also depends on the learning environment. As of now it is 75% classroom and blackboard based. We are trying to move away from this by developing learning aids.
* Training of these Shikshan Mitras to enhance their skills and knowledge. This is a continuous process which is going on. They need intensive training.
Check out some Shikshan Mitra Profiles!
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