Gen1Can is based on the research developed by LearningInq, which was started in 1992, to find pragmatic solutions for taking high quality education to scale for the most educationally vulnerable children.
Each variable of quality was tested across contexts:
Urban Poor: Vidya Bridge, Hope Project Charitable Trust, Child Survival India, Deepalaya, LearningInq Trust; Resettlement Colonies: Navjyoti India Foundation, Growth for All, CASP Plan. Street and Working Children: Salaam Balak Trust, Chintan, Butterflies. Rural Poor: Fabindia Schools, Edelgive, Janani. Special Children: Amar Jyoti Charitable Trust, International Deaf Children’s Society (U.K), Direct Government: Pratham Delhi Education Initiative, Absolute Return for Kids, ILO, SCF (UK, Spain), MHRD EE, SSA U.P. Private Hi-End: Modern School Barakhamba Road, Pratibha Vikas Vidyalaya Vasant Kunj, Butterflies, AHF, The Shriram Schools, Schoolnet; Low Cost Private: Virmani Public School

Education for transit

There are different types of Government schools in Delhi. The variety has been created to accommodate a range of contexts that children experience. It is a considerate system but which breeds class discriminations when it is implemented.

The largest numbers of schools are those run by the Municipal Corporation of Delhi and cost the least and therefore the most accessible for the student. However, they are also the schools in which the government invests least. Infrastructure, personnel and teaching standards are so low, those who have no other options for education refuse to use the system.

Needless to say, the worst affected are the children who study in the local Primary MCD School. Dependent on a service to which they can walk unaccompanied or with friends from the neighborhood, they are at the mercy of the teachers who rule the school. Children lose years to roaming the streets, as they are unlikely to be granted admission on the basis of age, not having a birth certificate or affidavit confirming age, no seats being available in the class, because it is not admission time, or because they are too old for primary school, but without a primary school certificate are ineligible for secondary school. The result of this is that, masses of children lose their only chance to access any Government school, and therefore any affordable school, secondary or higher education and inevitably, to most rights as a citizen.

Setting up School Management Committees

The RtE asks that each recognised school have a SMC (Please view the Act on the Home Page). Gen1Can can help your NGO school or low cost private school to initiate or re-vitalise your existing parent/mother/PTA group to become an effective SMC.

Indicators of success in a matter of months can be as follows:
1. Parents will understand the academic and pedagogic processes followed in the school.
The pictures above and below are a demonstration of how first generation learners, semi- literate parents can be introduced to school curriculum such that they are prepared to make valuable contributions on comprehensiveness and relevance of subject matter and method.

Adult Education Rationale

There is an experiment in progress, which aims to reduce the time that it takes to achieve literacy that compares to the Standard 5 level to three months. At the end of one month, the progress was more the satisfactory. The intention is to complete the experiment, learn from it and offer the service to at least one more group of women who have expressed their desire for Adult Education Classes.
A young man from the basti, who is a student and a brother of a student, is simultaneously being trained to as an Adult Educator who can go on to take on Adult Education Classes for men in the community.

Students Presentations

As a continuation of the innovative practices of assessing students for their understanding of the content that is taught at school, student presentations were organized. Students of all classes made presentations on various subjects. A presentation is an open space for students to speak and listen to themselves as they speak. The participation of every student is ensured. It provides an environment where people can have a debate. So the knowledge of every topic is enhanced as so many questions come out, an answer must be found.

For example when the Pre Bridge Class was studying Russian Revolution they studied that Lenin was one of actors in the Russian Revolution and that Marx influenced him. But they soon came to a point where they needed to know what influenced Marx. This even the teacher did not know. But she found out and answered their question. Thus using different resources and inquiry as a method both students and teachers learn to learn.

Workshop on Sexuality

The Hope Project School has seen as many attempts at introducing sexuality in the curriculum as it has seen movements of determined resistance to it. The staff was introduced to excellent curricula, even trained on transacting it, but nothing seemed to pass the test of subtle and undefined appropriateness that was the thin red line. Like so many other ideas that were picked through and discarded, because of an inarticulated code of right and wrong, acceptable and unacceptable, this section of possible curriculum remained at arms length. Any attempt to put the code into words by the teachers was poetic, seemingly over-emotional and frustrating for all concerned, so that the mentors, management and the teachers awkwardly avoided the issue of implementation by slipping into familiar opposite corners where each felt they were not understood. While the adults debated or avoided debate on content, methodology and context, any sessions taken with children were absorbed quickly with great enthusiasm, adding fuel to arguments by each side.

The solution that has been implemented and worked for two terms now, is neither unheralded nor brilliant in its innovation. It is different from what was done in earlier years only in that the teacher is in charge of the content. All materials available on the subject are available and well used as resource materials from which she has culled out a curriculum.

The main focus of the curriculum has shifted from the content that has to be shared to being the shifts in the awareness that the children are able to articulate. By the use of Critical Pedagogy almost a month’s time is used to generate an atmosphere of confidence and trust within the small group of students, so that the possibility of sharing reality as it is viewed by them is created. The weight of the content shared is then absorbed by the class as it begins to function as a support group. The teacher becomes the primary resource who introduces other materials as resources on demand.

The content aspect of the curriculum then emerges as a result of this interaction. It is paced by the students, as it is a response to the curiosity and inquiry of the children on the subject. The teacher does a mapping of the curriculum that emerges to the standards available at the end of each session. In the two workshops that have been taken thus far, children have exceeded expectations of content as laid down in the standard material for adolescent health and well being.

Saturday Activities

The discussion on why children should get two months holidays in summer, led to the fact that some wanted to learn skills in one month and have a holiday for one month. The children were promised that they would be taught whatever they wanted to learn through Saturday Clubs.
This is an opportunity to give the children pre-vocational education, so that they have some ideas on choosing their source of livelihood and skill, as they grow older. It will I hope also increase the attendance as parents see that children are also getting skills that are traditionally thought fit for the woman. Thus Henna designing, a beautician’s course, basic sewing and embroidery will be added to the existing music, yoga and art classes on Saturday.

Walk In

The Walk In class was started in April of 2004 as one more space where children and adults could meet to create opportunities for learning, one more structure through which children can be heard so what they say can lead learning.

It was created because the possibility that we may never be able to anticipate every need the context presents, because as many classes as we create for children with different needs, it is foolish to think that children can be categorized. It was created because the reasons why children aren’t in school are practically uncountable, because too many are and because of the belief that if our doors remained open in warm welcome, children would find us and with us weave a future they chose. A year to the day the class began, 17 children have been made ready for graduation to mainstream government schools or to Hope non-formal school.

Over the year 37 children have been admitted. We have been unable to hold the attention of 10. They have left us for the time being. We continue to do all we can to ensure they return if that is what they would like. They are not being considered as dropouts yet as we have not given up on them. 17 have graduated the class this April. 10 will continue with us until they have learnt enough to leave.
(Photographs: Nishaat)

Nurturing Reading

Gen1Can sets up comprehensive reading programs in your school with measurable results in:
1. Increased fluency in teachers and students with English and the native tongue, where fluency equals reading with comprehension, speaking with understanding, functioning in the language-environment.
2. Increased usage of language (widened vocabulary) in the use of debate, discussion and expression of opinion in verbal and written form.
3. Increased engagement with language-rich environments such as participation in seminars that are language-rich, increased usage of library, engagement in school and community projects that require language usage and development.

This program was first tested to provide career related opportunities to students of the Hope Project Charitable School. To be considered indicators of success, the engagement with language took various forms:

1. The Apprenticeship Program (for Language teachers):
As a result of an exercise to explore dreams for their future, students whose aspiration was to be part of the childcare and development industry were encouraged. It has resulted in 8 current students of the school being trained as apprentices, an increase in the number students attending the classes that they teach from 35 (taught by the Support teacher) to 113 (divided amongst students that the teacher trained).

2: Debates on current affairs:

The country had been torn on the argument about reservation of sets for specific social castes and classes in institutions of higher education, for some time now. The Social Sciences classes with the senior students had been discussing the issue in their classrooms for a while. In order to make sure that students understood the issue and came to hold an opinion for themselves, it was decided to do a debate on the issue as part of the Language Program.

3. Integration of strategies across subjects for whole-school impact:
The students who did not travel to Rajasthan used three days to read, comprehend and translate from research on Jodhpur from English to Hindi. It was an assessment of how much the children are able to use dictionaries. Several copies were bought for this workshop and are now housed in the Language Lab.

4. Identification of parts of the syllabus that students find difficult and finding ways to reach multiple intelligences:
The workshop on poetry was started because introducing the subject of poetry to the students was proving difficult for the senior classes as in the way it is suggested in the NIOS course. By the time that the students reach the Xth standard and above, the material that needs to be digested gets to be so lengthy, there is no time to relish the beauty of the work that they are required to study.

The Hindi teacher felt that the students needed a background in poetry and literature, which was delivered at length in a workshop format so that they could be prepared academically as well as in spirit to receive the information in their course later. The timetable was adjusted such that, ince every week, the students experience recitations, exposure visits to listen to recitations and authors as well as book releases, as well as discussions on the life and times of various poets and authors. The works of Hazrat Inayat Khan were also discussed under the section of Sufi poets and Saints and their philosophy. The intervention ran three months in duration.

Please contact us for short and long-term engagement to facilitate Reading at your school - whether it be low-cost private schools, community schools or NGO schools and centres or high-end private schools.

Co-educational school

It has taken a generation of the time and resourceful effort by members of the Hope team to ensure that the education for girl children in the basti is more the norm than the exception. Standing on the shoulders of this achievement, we are now happy to announce that girls and boys have chosen to attend classes without focusing on the segregation but on the availability of a high-quality learning- environment. Classes in school have thus been divided into Morning and Evening shifts wherein the same services are available in both shifts. The provision for girls in purdah to sit in segregated classrooms continues to be an option. Work on implementing this change began last quarter. Students are increasingly making decisions based on career plans rather than the availability of segregated classrooms.

Safe House

This is a new program that has been started at the school wherein students who choose to be occupied instead of roaming the streets meet in the afternoons between schools to engage in activities of their choice.
A volunteer taught the students of P2 the basics about the computer. They learnt enough about the computer to be able to open and close the machine and files without too much destruction. He was able to excite them enough about the machine for them to pledge to continue their visits to the school to work on the machine, as they were when he was teaching. They have thus become the first batch of students who are learning about content of a higher class through videos of classes/presentations/learning processes featuring their seniors. For the first time children will learn using material created by other children.

Supplementary Nutrition

The supplementary nutrition program was evaluated internally. On the basis of results, it became clear that there were many students who needed to access the supplementary nutrition service and were not being able to because of a lapse or an inadequacy in systems.

In Phase I, each student was asked to declare show that they had carried lunch or were going to be sent lunch later. Those who had neither arrangement were provided lunch at school. Those who could contribute were asked to pay Rs.2/- for the meal. In addition there was a list of students (including students sponsored by Room to Read) who are on a comparatively permanent list of children who are hosted regularly by the Project. These are children whose Individual Education Plans/Student Profiles are marked by the Community Outreach Department at the time of admission after considering the context of the child. The Community Outreach team then continues to work with and monitor the family to ensure that the child ultimately gets off this list.

The most important part of Phase I was to create the confidence in the children that the school was interested in making sure that they were well fed and content, and that all systems were being created to serve only that one purpose. The students first Rishtaa teacher took the lead in ensuring that the children felt welcome to eat not only as much as their bodies needed but as much as their heart’s desired.

Phase II included the students being taught how to eat from a buffet without shoving each other out of the panic of not getting at the food fast enough. This change has allowed Mrs. Batra to change her role from a disciplinarian to being able to attend to children who shirk eating, are unwell or have avoided the system in any way. It has also allowed the process to become structured in a more participatory fashion instead of resembling a hand out, where the resources continued to stay in the hands of the adult/donor/organization.

Phase III comprised of a re-evaluation of the system. We found that the number of the girls eating in the school was increasing. The Community Outreach team and the lead teacher worked with the children and their families to check for the reasons why this was happening. As a result, families have increased the responsibility they take for the nutrition of their girl children and the number of children who are eating because of careless parenting has decreased drastically.

Home Science Exhibition 2005-6

The Home Science Lab had its first exhibition. On show were students’ learning about cooking, food preservation, textiles, and catering, nutrition and consumer education.

The students of the Home Science classes made pickles, ‘paushtik parathas’, and ‘dum chai’ & sold the combination for Rs.10/- on the day of the Home Science Exhibition.
The pickles were sold out @ Rs.45/- per Kg on the same day among the staff.
The pickles are a non-labour intensive income-generating activity that can be begun. Bottles need to be collected in which to sell the pickle.

Science Exhibition 2005-6

One of the ways in which students are assessed at Hope is through their ability to convey their understanding about a subject to the uninitiated. We invited guests to provide them and our students the opportunity to assess and celebrate their learning in Science. There was a marked difference in the nature of the exhibition this year as compared to last year. This year, the focus shifted from the aesthetics of the presentation to ensuring learning and comprehension. The number of models and the drama of the perfectly decorated charts were replaced by pristine functional diagrams, teaching aids, digital learning resources, driving questions, practical examples and lengthy engaging conversations.

Math Mela - 31st August, 2006

Math has not been taught at the GNFS with the same intensity as the other subjects. This has been because of one reason. It is an optional subject in the National Open School Examination. Thus, the amount of Math that a child could learn was never an issue. There being no deadlines to meet, the level of learning in Math even by the time the child graduated from the GNFS could be as low as 5th standard CBSC.

In the last two years, a department for Math has been established, run by two faculty, one of whom is the Math Subject Expert – Tasneem. They have been working on raising the levels of learning for the last two years, by reviewing the curriculum, challenging the students to move through concept clusters at the pace that is most comfortable to them without letting up on the challenge, and by constant and careful documentation of this research in the classroom.

The Math Mela was thought of as one more way to be able to check the levels of the children and raise these levels in one shot, in one day, at one event. It was visualised as a physical laying out of the whole Math concept line as far as it is taught in the school at the moment in the form of counters run by students. Peer education would ensure that the students who were teaching as well as those learning would have to check their own levels while their competencies would become clear for the two Math faculty on duty to observe.

The Mela as it was implemented however was a much more interactive edutainment event, which kept the students busy the whole day, allowing them to explore their potential independently through games that forced them to think through problem situations. It was followed up with a half-day workshop the following day, during which the student counters were set up one at a time in a full-school assembly. Each counter explained their activity in the supervision of the Math Subject Expert so that concept clarity was complete and satisfactory for all children present.

More subject specialisation in the evening

The work has begun to expand the school that is run in the evening from being a centre for Remedial Instruction to becoming a full school that consolidates information into learning using inquiry as a technique.

The Individual Education Plans of the students attending the school in the evening are being re-visited. Class timings have been extended to one hour per subject, taught by subject experts. The number of subjects on offer to the students has increased as the existing skeletal staff has been reinforced with more time and more people have been hired.

English, Science, Social Studies, Computers, Hindi, Business Studies, Typing, Short Hand and Math is on offer for all children. Classes start from 3PM and run through to 9.30PM. Admission criteria remains the same for the Support classes as they have been for the GNFS (Girls Non Formal School) which is that all learners who do not have the option to study elsewhere are granted admission to the school.

Worries have been in terms of the amount of time that a child now spends in school, if he does so sincerely. It would be 6 hours in school from 8AM-1PM and the another 4 or 5 hours at Hope for support and supplementary classes. That is a really long day for the child at work. However, the feedback received is that parents are glad their children are off the streets and engaged in something constructive, away from anti-social elements or rough company and drug pushers and addicts in the community.

World Literacy Day Celebrations - September 11, 2006

Project Duration: 8 August - 11 Spetember

The initiative was taken by Room to Read to celebrate World Literacy Day as it is celebrated internationally on the 8th of September, 2006 . It was celebrated on the 10 th due to schedule constraints of the donor agency, along with another NGO, Manzil, because of constraints they had.

Children follow up on an activity that had taken place in their Bal Panchayat in May, in which they identified children who lived on their street, who were out of school. During the follow up, they concentrated on their own families. They investigated, then, reported the number of members in their household and the literacy levels of each member. The follow up was done at the class level during Rishtaa periods.

The senior computer literate students enter this information into the computer using the Excel program.

Children are introduced to the World Literacy Day and the opportunity they have to contribute to this effort in the Bal Panchayat. The previous follow up exercise was put into perspective.

In another Bal Panchayat, the students analyze the community in 5 households including theirs, the literacy levels of all members therein and the reasons why those not engaged in an education are unwilling or do not have access to education.

As part of the above Bal Panchayat, the students decide that a small population of children keep away from education because they do not know all the fun it entails. Thus, they decide to invite as many of this population living in their 5 household catchment area that each child has been allotted to a World Literacy Day Celebration.

On Saturday the 2nd of September, the Bal Panchayat meets to discuss the arrangements and entertainment for their guests, to discuss solutions for the other groups with different problems that have emerged from the data and its analysis.

On Monday the 11th of September, the children meet to take a pledge that they will take on the education of one other person who has little or no education until they learn at least up to the class 5 (CBSC) level.

The guest of honor will be the Principal of the local Government Primary School at Katra.

The Blog Project, 17th August - 4th September, 2006

Three volunteers from France, who have been friends to the Project for two years, came back to run a project with community children, through which they created a blog about the ‘basti’. Participants went through a long and trying selection process. Only those found committed and clear about the contribution they expected to make were invited to join the 12 day workshop. Students were taught the basics of digital photography, interviewing techniques, researching and writing an article in collaboration with the computer and language experts of the school.
The blog was launched on the 5th of September and is available for comment in Hindi and in English at this address:

While creating a ‘basti’ blog was the idea of the volunteers, it was taken up with a lot of enthusiasm by Kamini who was very impressed by the impact that a blog could make when it focussed on an issue that needed to be discussed at the community level. Her reference was the Nanglamachi movement against inhumane demolitions and the blog that popularised the issue and gained the protestors a lot of support. Shariq, the community worker at Hope who has had a great deal of experience working with the ‘basti’ youth on various issues of conscientization, as well as with media, was also very excited with the potential for the blog being a medium of expression for the ‘basti’ at large. The concerns were about the fact that relatively speaking very few people in the ‘basti’ are computer literate. The project went ahead inspite of this concern because there was a dependable hope that this situation had the potential to change. The students of the school would all contribute and the blog would be introduced in cybercafes across the ‘basti’ and candle-to-candle the word and activity on the blog would spread.

Desert Eco Region - August 18-25, 2006

The trip to Rajasthan was planned as part of the Social Science and General Sciences curriculum. The Social Sciences curriculum is based on the belief that geography leads to history leads to culture. Thus, the course content begins with the story of the universe and the earth, forces of nature and different eco regions on the planet, followed by how life emerged and adapted to the differences in habitat.

To supplement the instruction in the classroom, the students of the Girls Non Formal School are taken on study tours to various habitats. They visited the alpine habitat in the last academic year and this August they have visited the desert eco region. In December they hope to visit the marine habitat in Tamil Nadu. The trip was the first time that the staff planned a trip independently with decreased support from the Education Advisor. 20 girls took the trip accompanied by the Social Science and Science expert.

The children prepared for the trip by studying reviewing the basic concepts about the echonograph and habitats before the trip. The teachers were briefed and researched the NGO that would host them in one location and all the others they would visit on their tour. The excitement and trials of the selection procedure took its toll on the time and energy of the staff that mentored the children, but the values taught and learnt are integral to the curriculum[1] implemented by the project.

Similarly, the flash floods in Rajasthan while the trip was in progress forced the group to make many decisions about changes in plan which contributed to learning. An exhibition will be held in September by the participants to share their learning. This will be supported by an exhibition of the research done on the Jodhpur region by the students who did not travel.

[1] The teaching team at the Project wrote a list of values and ideals that they wish their students to graduate with. We call this the Critical Curriculum.

Email Exchange Project

Language Learning is a difficult business without it involving a third and fourth language.

The email exchange project has been an activity that the school has tried to work on in fits and starts for more than a year without much success or consistency. Setting up and maintaining an exchange with another school/ class in another location can be a logistical nightmare, especially as, conventionally, it involves scanning students’ work, taking and sending digital images and a matching of schedules. Given the nascent computer skills of the teachers and students at present, the focus of the project then gets diverted toward logistics and coordination rather than language learning. Thus, it has now been decided that the email exchange board will become an extension of the Student’s Parliament.

The board will become one more avenue of exchange between the students and teachers or management. Students’ questions received in the letter box will be answered here. The minutes of the Bal Panchayat meetings will be posted here. Interesting news and urgent announcements concerning students will be posted here. It will be like a wall newspaper, in terms of content so that the interest in reading it is kept alive in the students. Meanwhile, teachers’ skills are being developed further so that an inter-cultural exchange project can begin very soon.