• The primary thrust is on activities where the attempt is to make the process of teaching and learning interesting and fun. For instance, while familiarising children with language, we start with simple words that the children are familiar with, and then introduce alphabets. In addition to relying on blackboards, liberal use of charts and colourful picture cards, that are locally made by teachers and students, is employed.
• All centres follow books published by Eklavya, Hoshangabad. Additionally Apna Skool teachers, coordinators and volunteers design a course structure for Apna Skools combining ideas from the Eklavya educational material, and the U.P Board and NCERT (National Council for Educational Research and Training) books.
• Video shows: Films (entertaining and educative) and documentaries about the importance of, and issues related to, education among children; health awareness, and rights of the workers are shown perdiodically at every centre.
• Annual trips to zoos, museums, etc, are arranged as educational ventures.
• Older children who we judge to be sufficiently scholastically advanced are admitted to regular schools. Apna Skool has an ongoing policy of admitting as many children as possible into mainstream schools. We however continue to evaluate their progress (academic and otherwise), arrange for their transportation from their homes to school, and take care of their fees and other related expenditures. At present there are 53 students admitted to various mainstream schools in Kanpur.
• We undertake regular immunization and vaccination programmes, arrange for periodic counselling, and keep the children under regular medical supervision. Distribution of Vitamin A, B & C, roundworm and tapeworm tablets are undertaken on a regular basis. Every centre is equipped with a first aid box and the staff are trained on its use.
• Children at all the Centres are provided with nutritious hot meals every day. Nutrition includes rice & vegetables, lentils (both baked & sprouted), fruits & Kheer (once a week).
Besides studies, other activities such as drawing, painting, music, dance and play-acting are regularly held. Vocational training programmes, such as fabric painting, tiles painting, artificial jewellery making, embroidery and tailoring, are carried out for the more senior students in various centres during the months of May and June
Every year, a week-long workshop is held for the overall development of teachers. Additionally, at the end of every month, detailed reviews and discussions are held with all the teachers. Discussions focus on the process of learning and teaching, and innovative and effective ways of imparting education to children.
• We provide school dresses, winter clothes and all study materials ranging from mats for sitting in the classrooms to books, pens, pencils, notebooks, etc.
• Every year, the children participate in cultural functions on Independence Day, Republic day and Annual day.
• Regular meetings are held with the parents of the students and other labourers, on issues such as education of children, personal and community hygiene and awareness regarding minimum wages and other related workers’ rights issues.
The Apna Skool curriculum encourages the students to cultivate a reading habit to supplement their education. We maintain a collection of books and multimedia products, and continually upgrade both our static library accessible to the teachers and staff who regularly take them to schools, as well as the mobile library that is driven to each centre on a weekly basis.
Apna Ghar (affiliated with ASHA Kanpur) is a residential educational project for migrant workers’ children, that was recently started to augment the efforts of Apna Skools. The goal is to transition sufficiently scholastically advanced children from the network of Apna Skools, with the acquiescence and permission of their respective parents, to a relatively more stable Hostel environment, from where they can continue their education past class V. We now have 12 children who have graduated from the Apna Skool network in Apna Ghar. They go to mainstream schools. The ultimate goal is to have a hostel for 100 children; and we propose to add 10 children every year to reach this goal. Many of these children were working as child labourers at brick kilns and construction sites. Hence utmost care is taken to provide them with a ‘value-based education’ in its truest sense so that they can help tackle the fundamental problems that their parents’ generation (and many previous generations) faced... and take that small step towards freeing India of the menace of bonded labour. Indeed, our selection of a subset of Apna Skool graduates for sending to Apna Ghar is partially based on making an assessment on the potential leadership qualities of the child – we hope such children will take on the mantle of becoming “change agents” in their native villages one day.