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  project name ~ Swanirwar- Shikhamitra 2008

category ~ Education - Child




  Project Name


Swanirwar- Shikhamitra 2008






Education - Child






West Bengal

  Budget Approved


Rs 153500


  Year Approved







  Chapter Coordinators


Anand Kumar
K J Balakrishnan


San Diego









Shikshamitra ( Friends of Learning) is a program to create alternate educational system, catering to diverse needs based on recognizing the skills of students who are motivated to pursue those skills, through activity based learning. Students are trained in various traits based on their interest and offered vocational training and marketing the end products that students make. Shikshamitra started on 18th April – 2005 and it consists of a Learning Centre (the school) as well as an Education Resource Centre (ERC). School is has been started in a slum area of Kolkata and it largely enroll dropouts from mainstream education, who are usually very poor economically. ERC is basically a library with more than 1200 books, audio visuals and documentation of Shikshamitra’s work.





The average strength of the school over the year 2007-2008 was about 25 . In this 3rd year of the project, an intensive 3 month “creative writing” training for children of another NGO was organized; given training to govt. primary school teachers in Swanirvar’s rural project area in North 24 Parganas district on language - learning disabilities - remedial teaching. The teaching methodologies are being well received by other NGO’s and have shown interest in the programs initiated in Shikhamitra program. The learning’s from this school in terms of teaching techniques were used in training teachers in other government run schools and carrying out similar programs at 157 odd primary and secondary schools. In the big Children’s fair in St.Xaviers of Kolkata in Jan’08 , the students bagged 6 out of the 9 art prizes. The most important effect of our teaching method has been the confidence and boldness with which even those children ,who were previously labeled as weakest, bottom of the class, un-teachable, can now draw, paint and write . Children are trained in various trades as part of vocational training like School bags , coasters , book marks , cards , paper bags , envelopes, wrapping paper , book binding , clay jewellery etc. and these products were sold in various expo’s. There has been progress in terms of developing a database for vocational training institutions, which would be useful in terms of recommending and counselling students and others interested in helping them with the career choices based on skill set and interests. With these achievements there were problems in regards to retaining teachers as well as getting new students which were observed.





The current schooling system is failing to help build the confidence needed in students to prepare them for the future and which would be of help in their vocation and day to day life. The system is very rigid with its compulsory voluminous syllabus for all, irrespective of the individuals’ need and aptitudes. This results in elimination of a large number of students much before Class – X. needless to say the ‘majority pushed out’ are the poor – gaining little in these years and losing own survival skills in the bargain. Shikshamitra (Friends of Learning) a program of Swanirwar is working for creating such alternate educational system catering to individuals with different needs, skills and aptitude, to address these concerns. And the goal is not just to provide alternative system but also to influence the mainstream educational system and accept this form of approach, which is needed not only for poor but for all, through these efforts.



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