In an excessively ambitious era, our pursuit of ‘success’ leaves behind a week comprising of a hefty schedule, with the weekend being the only glimmer of hope that we hold on before every Monday. And yet, there are a group of college students in the Sunrise State of Andhra Pradesh, utilizing their weekends to bring about a smile on the faces of young children, fostering creativity and nurturing dreams. It was when Rajesh Mummaneni, a B.Tech graduate in Computer Science, observed that the process of imparting education in government schools is not sufficient for the wholesome development of the students. And from there emanated the idea of Saakshar. Established in December, 2016, its pilot project was launched in five government primary schools across Vizianagaram and Visakhapatnam with the basic aim of the organisation revolving around enhancing the communication skills of the students through methods of interactive learning.
Over the course of five months, the organisation has initiated several programmes for around 248 students of these primary schools. One such programme, called ‘Fulfill a wish’, has a concept similar to the joy of giving week wherein they try to fulfill a wish of each child. As Rajesh puts it, “It may not be possible for us to fulfill all their wishes, but why not fulfil at least one wish if it motivates them to aspire and dream?” Other programmes include the ‘Happy Learning Programme’ wherein the Saakshar team tried to redecorate the classrooms by putting up colourful and informative charts on the otherwise dull walls of the classrooms. It was when the students stepped into their redesigned classrooms and tried to identify and pronounce words from the posters with a new sense of interest reflecting in their eyes, that Rajesh realised it had indeed been the right decision. ‘Donation camp’ programmes have also been conducted through which study materials and stationery have been donated to the students.
Though their foremost interest lies in skill development of primary school students, their efforts for aiding the secondary school students have proved to be quite effective as well. With government school students lacking awareness about the available career opportunities, Saakshar has initiated a ‘Career Options and Counselling’ programme for students in the 10th Standard. They had recently organised a fifteen day summer camp for students in the 7th and 8th Standard aimed at promoting greater ‘computer literacy’. The students were taught a variety of concepts ranging from basic computer operations to MS Office and basic programming. Their weekly sessions in the primary schools which last for two hours are generally split into two sessions, each comprising of one hour, with children being taught a particular concept in the first half and the second half stressing upon their spoken skills.
The approach and methodology to engage students keeps evolving from narrating moral stories to teaching them spellings of common words through simplified crossword puzzles. Volunteers for the organisation, being appropriately referred to as ‘change makers’ have undergone a unique journey of their own, with some being initially sceptical about their role and later on rediscovering their own potential as they strive to innovate new techniques to share their knowledge. Thirty-five volunteers from Andhra Pradesh have been actively involved in their pilot project.
Intending to expand the reach of ‘Saakshar’ to government schools all across the country, team Saakshar now looks forward to working with ‘change makers’ from diverse regions of India and possible collaborations with other like-minded organisations who can come forward and contribute their creative resources to instil creativity in thousands of students.
To be a part of their initiative, contact them at https://www.facebook.com/saaksharorganisation/ or call Rajesh at 9494858694.
PARTHABI KANUNGO | TOC
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