Best Practices – Classroom Beautification at Salamba GMS

The Classrooms with Painted Walls

Students in Salamba Government Middle School are able to learn from their textbooks, their teachers, and, believe it or not, the walls of their classrooms. The walls of their classroom are decorated not just with artwork by students, but also with informational paintings done by professionals. We visited the school to have a look at the paintings and to speak to their head-mistress, Ms Usha Saini to found out what prompted her to do it.

The classrooms of Salamba GMS with their painted walls.

The classrooms of Salamba GMS with their painted walls.

Why the Painted Walls?

Ms Usha Saini said that she had the paintings made for a few reasons. The colourful paintings beautified the classroom and made it more vibrant – a place where students feel motivated to learn. More importantly, they serve as learning aids for the students. The paintings of the wall depicted important concepts such as the human anatomy, the geography of India and the water cycle.

A painting showing the process of photosynthesis.

A painting showing the process of photosynthesis.

According to Ms Usha Saini, these concepts, such as the parts of the human body or the states of India, can be difficult for the students to remember. Having them displayed on the walls makes learning easier as the students are able to refer to the paintings at all times. They internalize the concepts are able to recite them by heart.

The paintings in the classroom are not all educational – some of them are of a motivational nature. Ms Usha Saini had the “Rights to Education” painted on walls to serve as a constant encouragement to her students of the importance of learning. She also has poems and paintings which promote gender equality, empowerment of girls and religious harmony. With these paintings, she hopes to impart good values to her students.

A painting to motivate students to strive for the best.

A painting to motivate students to strive for the best.

An Intelligent Use of Budget

Ms Usha Saini told us that the paintings were paid for through a smart reallocation of the school’s budget. Every year, a certain sum of money is set aside for the beautification of the school. This usually means painting the walls or planting greenery. Salamba is the only school to have used this budget to have educational materials painted. The innovative head-mistress hired professional artist in order to have paintings which are beautiful, in addition to being informative. By doing this, Ms Usha Saini is able to get the most out of the school’s limited budget to maximize the learning experience of her students.

Hopes for the Future

The painting of the classroom walls is merely the first step in Ms Usha Saini’s efforts to improve the school. She wants to upgrade other parts of the school, as well as increase the school’s overall attendance. Her biggest wish is to provide education for girls beyond 8th grade. Presently, the school does not cater to girls going on to 9th and 10th grade. As a result, most of them drop out after completing 8th grade, without moving on to further education. By providing education to 9th and 10th grade girls, she believes that they will have more opportunities in the future.

The inspiring and innovative head-mistress of Salmba GMS, Ms Usha Saini.

The inspiring and innovative head-mistress of Salmba GMS, Ms Usha Saini.

With Ms Usha Saini’s passion and innovative thinking, we’re sure that she’ll find a way to achieve her goals.

All over Mewat, head-masters are putting into place innovative practices which are improving the education of the students in their school. Over the month of December, three interns from the SRF Foundation visited 7 of these schools to document the practices and to interview the head-masters.

With these reports, they seek to give recognition to these schools, and to share with the world little bits of progress that are being made, even in the most rural of places.

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Best Practices – Sports & Games at Chandeni GMS & GPS

An Emphasis on Sports and Games

Sports and games play a very big role in Chandeni Government Middle School and Chandeni Government Primary School. Mr Man Singh and Mr Bhagwat Dayal, the head-masters of the middle school and primary school respectively, took it upon themselves to ensure that the students are given the time, the equipment and the opportunity to play. They saw that sports and games benefit the students, not just physically, but in other aspects as well.

A student from Chandeni GMS playing cricket.

A student from Chandeni GMS playing cricket.

We visited the campus and sat down with the head-masters to find out how they incorporated sports and games into the curriculum, its benefits and the problems they have faced along the way. We also saw for ourselves the students at play, filled with enthusiasm and competitive spirit.

Kho-Kho, Wrestling, Kabadee and More

The students of the school enjoy a variety of games. These include traditional games such as kho-kho, wrestling and kabadee, and the more modern ones such as volleyball, badminton and cricket. The students also engage in athletics such as sprinting and long jump. These activities take the students out of the classroom, while teaching them skills such as communication and teamwork.

During our visit, it was clear that the students were enjoying themselves. They were competitive, yet not aggressive. They showed a high-level of athletic ability and sportsmanship. For example, we saw two boys, who were playing wrestling shake each other’s hand and pat each other on the back, despite being engaged in fierce competition only moments before.

Students shaking hands after a round of wrestling.

Students shaking hands after a round of wrestling.

The Implementation of Sports and Games

The head-masters and teachers told us that there are a few factors which contribute to the excellent implementation of sports and games in Chandeni GMS and GPS.

Mr Bhagwat Dayal, Head-master of Chandeni GMS.

Mr Bhagwat Dayal, Head-master of Chandeni GMS.

Purchasing equipment for the students

Sports such as volleyball, badminton and cricket are only possible with the right equipment. The head-master of the schools shared with us that since the government did not provide a budget for sports and games, they took it upon themselves to buy equipment for their students. They purchased balls, rackets, bats for crickets and even a net for the volleyball court. Mr Man Singh said that even if they had to use their own money, they felt that it was worth it because they recognize the value of sports and games.

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Girls from Chandeni GMS playing badminton with rackets bought by the school.

The Opportunity to Play

In addition to playing games during recess, time is set aside for a game period where students get out of the classroom to play. The school also encourages the students to continue playing games even after school, lending them equipment if necessary. A teacher from Chandeni GMS also shared with us that the school organizes volleyball games on Saturday mornings.

Students enjoying a game of volleyball.

Students enjoying a game of volleyball.

A Dedicated Physical Education Teacher

Something which is unique to Chandeni GMS and GPS is the presence of a dedicated Physical Education teacher. The physical education teacher, Mr Mahinder Singh, is the one who conducts the game period, where he teaches the rules of the different sports and games to the students, and gives them advice on how they can improve their performance. He also looks into how sports and games can be improved in the school.

A Healthy Body is the key to a Healthy Mind

The head-master shared with us that their emphasis on sports and games are paying off. Beyond contributing to the students’ physical development, the students have fresher minds, which according to Mr Bhagway Dayal, allow them to pay better attention in classes. He firmly believes that a healthy body is the key to a healthy mind.

Moreover, students learn important soft skills such as teamwork, leadership and communication, and it instills into them a never-say-die spirit that can only be experienced through competition.

A fierce game of kabadee.

A fierce game of kabadee.

Sports and games have also had an impact on the attendance of the school – students now have an additional incentive to go to school. In competitions, both on district and state level, the school has also performed well, thanks to their focus sports and games. Their students have brought back certificates and medals in athletics such as long jump, high jump and relay races.

Problems Faced

While the school has seen success, the head-masters admit that there is still room for improvement. Due to their limited budget, they can only focus on a few sports, and within those few sports, the equipment has to be shared with many students. They circumvent the problem by getting their students to play sports which do not need equipment, such as kho-kho, kabadee, wrestling and athletics.

Another problem the school faces is the lack of a steady supply of water, which is especially important for the students when they engage in strenuous physical activities.

Mr Man Singh, Head-master of Chandeni GPS.

Mr Man Singh, Head-master of Chandeni GPS.

Sports and Games – A Part of Life

The head-masters and teachers of Chandeni GMS and GPS recognize the importance of sports and games and have gone to great lengths to ensure that their students are able to benefit from them. They see sports not just as a distraction, but as an important part of the students’ development

A girls’ race at Chandeni.

A girls’ race at Chandeni.

Their commitment is admirable, and the encouraging results they have seen is a sign that perhaps, more should be done to promote sports and games in schools in the country. For now, we hope that the students of the schools can continue to play hard and reap good results.

All over Mewat, head-masters are putting into place innovative practices which are improving the education of the students in their school. Over the month of December, three interns from the SRF Foundation visited 7 of these schools to document the practices and to interview the head-masters.

With these reports, they seek to give recognition to these schools, and to share with the world little bits of progress that are being made, even in the most rural of places.

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Best Practices – Discipline at Tapkan GMS & GPS

Morning Assembly at Tapkan

Each day at Tapkan Government Middle School and Tapkan Government Primary School begins with a morning assembly. It’s a sight to behold – all of the students gather at the school’s parade square and arrange themselves in neat, straight lines. They stand in attention, waiting for the command from Mr Basruddin Khan, the head-master of TGMS, who speaks through a microphone and speakers. Thanks to the sound system, all of the students, even those standing furthest away, are able to hear him clearly.

Mr Basruddin Khan, Head-master of TGMS conducts the morning assembly.

Mr Basruddin Khan, Head-master of TGMS conducts the morning assembly.

The students stand quietly, waiting for Mr Basruddin’s word. When he says “Right turn,” the students turn to their right with the precision of an army drill squad. When he says “Face front,” they do so in unison as well. Clearly, the students possess a high degree of discipline.

During the morning assembly, a PT Show is conducted where students perform synchronized physical exercises. They also perform exercises with the dumbbells and laziums. The students move at a constant rhythm, following the drum beats of the head-master. It should be noted that the dumbbells and the laziums were distributed in an extremely organized manner, with one student from each line collecting the equipment for his or her line, and then passing them down, with minimal noise.

The distribution of the dumbbells is done in an orderly manner.

The distribution of the dumbbells is done in an orderly manner.

The PT Show is followed by a morning prayer, led by four of the school’s students. After this, the students head back to their classes, line by line, quietly and orderly, ready to start the day.

Instilling discipline

When we asked Mr Basruddin why he conducts such a thorough and systematic morning assembly, he shared with us that this was all a part of instilling discipline into his students. If the students are disciplined, they pay more attention in class, study harder, and are also easier for the teachers to manage.

He also felt that the morning assembly is especially important as it is the beginning of a new day for the students, and as such, it sets the tone. “If the day starts well, then the rest of the day will go well too,” he said.

Students at Tapkan doing the PT Show at morning assembly

Students at Tapkan doing the PT Show at morning assembly

Changes made by the Head-master

The well-executed morning assembly can be attributed to Mr Basruddin, who joined the school in July 2013. When he joined Tapkan, he felt that there was a need to raise the academic excellence in the school, and one of the ways he did so is through the assembly. A

The changes to morning assembly were put in place by Mr Basruddin who recently joined the shoool.

The changes to morning assembly were put in place by Mr Basruddin who recently joined the shoool.

man with a reputation for being smart, honest and passionate about education, he has made changes to Tapkan with the hope that one day, it will be as good as a private school.

 

One of the reasons parents do not sent their children to government schools, he shared, was that they feel that these schools have poor standards. They do not see a reason to send their children because they feel that what they are learning is insignificant and that the school adds no value. By improving the school, he hopes to change this perception.

Friendly competition with other schools

Another change introduced by Mr Basruddin is academic competitions with neighbouring schools. He worked with 4 other head-masters, and once a month, they hold a friendly competition amongst themselves, where students from their schools come together to test their academic mettle in subjects such as Mathematics, English and Science. The best students win a prize and bring honour to their schools.

These initiatives create an incentive for the schools to raise their academic standards. It encourages the students to study harder, and the teachers to teach better as well.

The students at Tapkan are highly disciplined and motivated to do well academically.

The students at Tapkan are highly disciplined and motivated to do well academically.

Difficulties faced

Mr Basruddin told us that turning his ideas into reality has not been without its difficulties. Initially, he faced resistance from teachers in the school, who viewed the changes as unnecessary. They felt that they were being burdened with extra work. However, over time, most of the teachers have seen the encouraging results of the changes, and are beginning to change their point of view.

Raising the bar

Mr Basruddin has high hopes for Tapkan. He wants to work together with more head-masters to increase the number of schools participating in the academic competitions to 15. He also wishes to increase the attendance of the school from 600 to 1000.  With his strong focus on discipline and academic excellence, we’re certain that he will be able to achieve his goals.

Mr Basruddin aims to increase attendance of the school from 600 to 1000.

Mr Basruddin aims to increase attendance of the school from 600 to 1000.

All over Mewat, head-masters are putting into place innovative practices which are improving the education of the students in their school. Over the month of December, three interns from the SRF Foundation visited 7 of these schools to document the practices and to interview the head-masters.

With these reports, they seek to give recognition to these schools, and to share with the world little bits of progress that are being made, even in the most rural of places.

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Filed under Mewat Rural Education Programme (MREP)

Best Practices – Co-Curricular Activities at Khor-Basai GMS

The Vibrant Khor-Basai GMS

According to Mr Shaminder Kumar, head-master of Khor-Basai Government Middle School, his school boasts one of the highest attendances in the whole of the Mewat District. The high attendance may be attributed to the variety of co-curricular activities which students can participate in. These activities include music, sports, arts and craft and even dance, catering to the students’ varied interests.

As we stepped into the school, we were struck by how vibrant the student life at Khor-Basai GMS was. We sat down with their head-master and found out what some of these activities are, his reasons for implementing them and how he went about doing it.

The lively students of Khor-Basai.

The lively students of Khor-Basai.

Co-Curricular Activities at Khor-Basai GMS

Mr Shaminder Kumar recognizes that co-curricular activities play a vital role in the development of his students. These activities are also encouraged by the State Government and the SRF Foundation.

As such, he has made it a point to ensure that the school offers a variety of activities, which are well implemented. Together with his staff, he introduces physical activities, arts and crafts, music, and other things which are not found in the textbook.

Mr Shaminder Kumar recognizes the importance of co-curricular activities.

Mr Shaminder Kumar recognizes the importance of co-curricular activities.

Physical Activities

The students of the school play games such as kho-kho and rope-skipping during their break. They also take part in sports such as badminton and volley-ball. The students take these activities as an opportunity to exercise their bodies. Team sports also allow them to learn about the importance of team-work. According to Mr Shaminder Kumar, students of the school have actually taken part in state level competitions, where they performed very well.

Girls from KGMS skipping rope.

Girls from KGMS skipping rope.

In addition to sports and games, yoga sessions are also conducted during morning assembly.

Arts and Craft

Arts and craft play an important role in the classroom. They are used as a means of imparting important lessons in a manner which interests the students. They also let the students express their unique creativity. One of the teachers of the school shared with us that the students find joy in making art pieces and are able to absorb the information better. The pieces made by the students are used to adorn the walls of the classroom, making the place more beautiful and stimulating for learning.

Arts and craft are used by the teachers to teach.

Arts and craft are used by the teachers to teach.

PT Show (Physical Training Show)

Students of the school are taught how to make music using the musical dumbbell and the lazium. The dumbbell and the lazium are percussion instruments which the students play while making synchronized movements. The activity, which combines music with physical movements, is known as the the PT Show, or Physical Training Show.

A student playing the lazium.

A student playing the lazium.

They practice constantly in order to achieve harmony. Led by a teacher on drums, the students perform in sync, moving their bodies and beating their instruments as one. The students of Khor-Basai GMS put up dumbbell and lazium performances during important events in the school calendar such as festivals and national holidays.

Bal Sabha

Every Saturday morning the school conducts a bal sabha, which is an assembly for the students. During the bal sabha, students are given a platform to showcase whatever skill they desire. When we visited, we had the privilege of seeing a couple of students sing, dance, and act and even perform a comedic routine. Two students even did imitations of animals, which had the whole school laughing.

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Implementing Co-Curricular Activities

Mr Shaminder Kumar told us that implementing so many co-curricular activities required the coordination of the staff, the community, and the students. It could be difficult at times, he admitted, but he has been blessed with a committed staff and enthusiastic students who are passionate about school.

A difficulty he encounters is getting the cooperation of the students’ parents who fail to see the value of education, and of co-curricular activities. The head-master said that it takes a lot of convincing, and he stresses upon the parents the importance of education and the benefits that it will have on their children and on society, as a whole.

The head-master, during the interview, gave credit for the school’s success to everyone except for himself. A teacher told us that the head-master is actually the secret ingredient. He is the backbone of the school, and he has a unique ability to motivate the students and the teachers. At the end of the day, leadership from the head-master plays an extremely important role.

Motivational Talks at Morning Assembly

In addition to co-curricular activities, the head-master also highlighted the school’s practice of giving motivational talks during assembly as an important factor to the students’ development.

During the school’s morning assembly, the head-master asks members of the staff and students to share motivational speeches with the school. These speeches aim to encourage students to work harder in school, and also to become morally outstanding citizens in the future. When we visited, Mr Parveen Kumar, an English teacher in the school, gave a talk on the importance of finishing school, and how doing well in school will make their parents, teachers, school and village proud.

Mr Parveen Kumar giving a rousing speech to a captivated audience.

Mr Parveen Kumar giving a rousing speech to a captivated audience.

Such talks instill important values one might not learn in the classroom. Being given by their teachers and even their peers, the students are also able to relate to the advice better.

A Vibrant and Motivated Student Population

The students of Khor-Basai GMS are an enthusiastic and lively bunch. During our visit, they were extremely friendly, and encouraged us to join them in their games. We believe that the school’s variety of activities, which are well-implemented, and the motivational talks, have made a significant impact on its students, giving them an opportunity to grow and to shine.

The head-master and the students of KGMS.

The head-master and the students of KGMS.

All over Mewat, head-masters are putting into place innovative practices which are improving the education of the students in their school. Over the month of December, three interns from the SRF Foundation visited 7 of these schools to document the practices and to interview the head-masters.

With these reports, they seek to give recognition to these schools, and to share with the world little bits of progress that are being made, even in the most rural of places.

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Best Practices – Girls’ Education at Ghassera Girl’s GMS

Girls’ Education at GGMS

The girls in Ghassera Government Girl’s Middle School occupy two classrooms in the Ghassera Senior School campus. When we visited, it was filled with activity and life. The school has over 90 girls attending regularly, all of whom looked enthusiastic and eager to learn. They had two fully-furnished classrooms which were decorated with the class’s art. It was a wonderful place for learning, packed with motivated students, taught by passionate teachers.

Girls at Ghassera GMS, hard at work.

Girls at Ghassera GMS, hard at work.

However, if you wind the clock a few months back, you would see a completely different place. Only 30 girls attended class regularly, and they did not even have a proper classroom to study in. Discipline was poor, with students not wearing uniform, coming to class late and leaving class early.

A New Head-mistress, a New Beginning

It was only when Head-mistress Miss Ish Pahuja joined the school that things began to turn around. Under her leadership, the attendance and learning experience of the girls improved. We had the opportunity to speak with her to find out what changes she put in place and how she went about doing it.

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Ms Ish Pahuja, Head-mistress of Ghassera GMS.

A Day in GMSS

A typical day in GGMS begins with a morning assembly. During assembly, the students engage in a prayer session, sing national songs and do yoga. The girls also discuss the day’s headlines.

In class, subjects such as social science and mathematics are taught. The girls take notes, paying close attention to the teacher. They participate actively when the teacher poses a question and ask their own questions when they are unsure.

In addition to the conventional subjects, the girls are taught vocational skills such as sewing, knitting and other crafts. The girls’ repertoire includes coasters, belts and even fans.

During their break, the girls take part in sports and games such as basketball and kho-kho, running around with bright smiles on their faces.

Girls playing basketball during their break.

Girls playing basketball during their break.

Changes made by the Head-mistress

The encouraging sight at the school would not have been possible without the head-mistress, who took it upon herself to move the school in the right direction.

Shifting the classes to a better venue

The biggest change initiated by Miss Ish Pahuja was to lobby for an appropriate venue for the girls. Previously, classes were conducted in the GGPS Campus, where all three girls’ classes were squeezed into one room. The room did not even have desks and chairs – the students had to be seated on the floor.

Miss Ish Pahuja shifted to the Senior Secondary School Campus, where she was able to secure two furnished classrooms. The new location has a basketball court nearby in which students can play in. Miss Ish Pahuja said that learning takes place best if the environment allows for it.

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The classrooms are equipped with blackboards, tables and chairs.

Vocational Activities, Sports and Games

Miss Ish Pahuja realized that the reason girls might have been coming in late and leaving early was their lack of interests in the classes. Through the introduction of vocational activities, games and competition, she was able to engage the girls better, and encourage them to come punctually and to stay in class. The girls feel that such activities are more enjoyable and relevant to their lives. By stimulating interest, she was able to improve attendance.

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Girls making a belt during their vocational class.

Speaking to the Parents

Upon joining the school, Miss Ish Pahuja made the effort to speak to the parents of the girls in the village. Some of the parents did not see the need to send their children to school. Miss Ish Pahuja had to convince them otherwise.  She shared with us that at first, she had difficulty getting the parents to even meet with her.

Nevertheless, she persevered. She told them about the benefits of education, and the fact that the textbooks, uniform and school fees were already paid for by the State Government. Eventually, many of them changed their minds.

According to Miss Ish Pahuja, convincing the parents was the key in increasing her school’s attendance.

According to Miss Ish Pahuja, convincing the parents was the key in increasing her school’s attendance.

Focusing on Discipline

Miss Ish Pahuja saw that discipline was a big problem in the school. As a result, she made it a point to be strict with the students. Students who were not wearing the school uniform were sent home. When speaking to the parents, she also asked for the parent’s help in getting their children to attend school regularly and punctually. She also took steps to discourage the girls from using rough language.

Towards Better Education for Girls

Thanks to Miss Ish Pahuja’s efforts, discipline, attendance and participation in the school have drastically improved. The girls not only learn more, but also enjoy themselves more in the school. They come to school regularly, looking forward to meeting their friends and learning from their teachers.

At the end of the day, Miss Ish Pahuja hopes that the lessons the girls learn in the school will be useful to them in the future.

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Girls playing kho-kho.

All over Mewat, head-masters are putting into place innovative practices which are improving the education of the students in their school. Over the month of December, three interns from the SRF Foundation visited 7 of these schools to document the practices and to interview the head-masters.

With these reports, they seek to give recognition to these schools, and to share with the world little bits of progress that are being made, even in the most rural of places.

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Filed under Mewat Rural Education Programme (MREP)

Best Practices – Holistic Development at Kawarsika GMS & GPS

Introduction

The Kawarsika Government Middle School (GMS) and Government Primary School (GPS) are made up of a total of 407 students and 10 teachers. The Kawarsika GMS and GPS rank amongst the best schools in the district. The schools put a strong emphasis on the holistic development of the students and their practices are emulated by other schools in the area. This remarkable feat can be credited to Mr Muhammad Fazil, Head-Master of GMS and Mr Thawer Singh, Head-master of GPS and their team for constantly striving to improve the school.

Students at Kawarsika GMS.

We spoke to the both of them to find out more about their teaching practices and philosophies.

Speaking with the Head-Master

Mr Fazil shared with us that from his years of teaching, he firmly believes that Kawarsika School is one of the best schools he has been to, with students who are disciplined and all-rounded. He attributed several factors for this success.

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Mr Fazil, Head-Master of Kawarsika GMS.

Working together with the Community

First, the school has very good ties with the community they serve. The teachers constantly have meeting with the village council so they can suggest improvements to the school. Such engagements pave the way for collaboration between the two parties.

For example, the center of the school used to be uneven land. Through dialogues with the community, the school was able to raise sufficient funds to build pathways and to level off the ground. He also added that by working closely with the community, the state government and the SRF Foundation, decisions are made faster, and improvements can be implemented more easily.

Holistic Development of Students

Second, the school focuses on the holistic development of the student, imparting on its students other skills which are important for their growth. Students are strongly encouraged to participate in extra-curriculum activities which range from sports such as volleyball, badminton and soccer to arts such as painting, drawing and arts and crafts. Some students actually represent the school in sports competition within the district.

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Students playing volleyball during their break.

Every morning, the school also conducts morning physical exercises, prayer sessions, and updates the students with the latest news. These activities, which go beyond the syllabus, allow the students to learn beyond their textbooks and explore other areas of interests.

Good Learning Environment

Third, a factor which many other schools neglect is the learning environment. Unlike other schools, the Kawarsika school complex has a park, and has plenty of greenery in its surroundings. These plants have been planted by the school and are maintained daily by the students. Mr Fazil stressed that it is important to create a positive environment so that the children will enjoy coming to school.

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A student watering the plant in the campus.

Mr Thawer Singh, head master of Kawarsika GPS, first started planting plants in the school in 2006. Without any funding from the government, he forked out money from his own pocket. His efforts were finally recognized when the school was awarded 50000 Rs by the state government for having the most beautiful school in the area. The school’s beautiful surroundings allow for learning and create an atmosphere in which students can play freely.

Activity-based Learning

The teaching-style used in the school is unique as well. The teachers use an innovative method called the “Play Way Method” to engage the class so that they would be more interested in learning. Props such as flash cards and cardboards and games are used to     engage the interest of the students. For the more mischievous students in the school, a special class is arranged for them, where an even more interactive style of learning is used. Songs, poems and role-play are also used to facilitate learning.

During our research, the kids flocked to us to shows us the variety of artwork that they have made during their lessons. This shows that innovative methods used by the teachers are certainly working. Furthermore, the children seem to be very disciplined, and they show a lot of enthusiasm in class.

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An artwork done by a student for class.

Innovative Practices

The school is constantly implementing innovative practices which seek to improve the learning experience of the students. One such area is the tracking of attendance. Teachers mark students’ attendance on a chart with stickers. Students are rewarded with small gifts like stationery if they go for a month without missing classes. The school also has sessions where teachers teach fellow teachers good practices in the classroom. Such sessions allow the best practices to be shared, ultimately benefiting the students of the school.

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An attendance chart from a classroom.

IBM Kidsmart

Kawarsika GPS is also one of the schools selected for the IBM Kidsmart Programme, a collaboration between the Government of Haryana, IBM and the SRF foundation to bring the latest technology and innovative methodologies to the schools in the region.

This unique programme offers children from low socio-economic status communities good quality learning opportunities in their school years. Under this program, the Kawarsika GPS has been provided with computers, furniture and educational software which enhance children’s learning and creativity through technology. Classes are split into three smaller groups; technology, reading and craft, and lessons are crafted to be highly-interactive.

As a result, students are exposed to modern technology, pick up reading at a faster rate and are imparted skills which may not be found within the curriculum.

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Students learning with the computer in the IBM Kidsmart Classroom.

Positive Results

The school has seen positive results from these practices. 4 years ago, only 100 students attended GPS. Today, they have 267. Similarly positive news has been witnessed in the Middle School. These would not have been possible without the purposeful leadership demonstrated by the head-masters and teachers of the school, anchored by the support of the community, corporations such as IBM, and the SRF Foundation.

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Mr Tawer Singh, Head-Master of Kawarsika GMS.

Mr Fazil shared with us that he believes that despite the positive results, there is still room for improvement. He wants the students to be able to speak fluent English, and he wants the school to be the top school in the state. At the rate that they’re going, we’re sure that they’ll be able to achieve just that.

All over Mewat, head-masters are putting into place innovative practices which are improving the education of the students in their school. Over the month of December, three interns from the SRF Foundation visited 7 of these schools to document the practices and to interview the head-masters.

With these reports, they seek to give recognition to these schools, and to share with the world little bits of progress that are being made, even in the most rural of places.

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Filed under Mewat Rural Education Programme (MREP), Uncategorized

Best Practices – Midday Meal at Kherla GMS

The Midday Meal at Kherla GMS

The Kherla Government Middle School (GMS) consists of 340 students and 9 teachers. The school operates from Monday to Saturday with breaks on alternate Saturdays. Just like other government schools, Kherla GMS offers midday meals to their students. With 42% of Indian children being underweight, Midday Meal Scheme (MDMS) was proposed by the government to enhance food security, nutrition and retention of children in primary schools. So far, studies have shown that the provision of midday meals has resulted in 50% reduction in the dropout rate of females at schools.

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The students of Kherla GMS.

However, the Midday Meal Scheme is not always implemented properly. Poor hygiene practices have led to fatal cases of food poisoning. One such case was witnessed in Bihar in July 2013, where at least 23 students died after eating a meal which was contaminated with pesticide.  Other issues plaguing the midday meal are the poor quality of food and the lack of infrastructure at the school’s kitchens.

In Kherla Government Middle School, the implementation of the midday meal is exceptional. The food is of good quality, the kitchen is kept in impeccable order, and hygiene is treated with utmost importance. We spoke to Miss Savita, Head-Mistress of the school, to find out what changes she has put in place and her reasons for doing so.

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A student with his Midday Meal.

Speaking with the Head-Mistress

Miss Savita explained to us that they had expanded the menu to increase variety and nutrition. From the previous 6 type of ingredient, they are currently using 16 different types of ingredients. This gives the students of the school more variety, and better health benefits.

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Miss Savita, Head-mistress of Kherla GMS.

She also mentioned that while the state government gave them huge amounts of food, such as wheat, no proper storage facilities were provided. As a lack of proper storage would lead to contamination and pest infestation, she and her team took the initiative to purchase containers so that food can be kept in proper storing conditions. The funds, however, had to come out of their own pockets. In order to raise them, the team went to the community to ask for donations. The team raised enough money, and they also managed to buy plates for each student, on top of the 70 plates provided by the government.

Even with containers, there might still be a chance of worm infestation. As an additional precaution, Miss Savita ensures that her team adds in neem leaves which prevent insects from eating the ingredients.

Neem leaves are used to prevent the food from being attacked by pests.

Another major concern to Miss Savita is the level of hygiene practiced while preparing the food. She ensures that her cooks use lids, wash all items and place them in neat order. To ensure that the water is safe to drink, the drinking water is obtained via a filtration method which was demonstrated by a member of the cooking team.

Miss Savita said that the reason behind such thorough steps is that she hopes the standards of her school’s kitchen could match that of a family kitchen, where people exhibit good hygiene practices. She also wants the kids to be able to learn these good hygiene practices and bring these habits back to their own homes.

Some of the containers bought by Miss Savita for middday meal.

Speaking with the Cooks

The proper preparation of the food will not be possible without the cooperation of the cooks of the kitchen. When we visited the kitchen, we saw that it was kept both clean and organized. No food was left out in the open, and everything that had to be covered was.

The cooks told us that they recognized the importance of good hygiene practices as they know that it will affect the well-being of the students. Moreover, they eat the food themselves, and have children studying in the school who will be eating the food. This makes them even more committed to making sure the food is safe for consumption.

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The cooks at Kherla GMS have children studying in the school too.

The Midday Meal

At 12 noon, it’s finally time for the midday meal. The students sit outside their classrooms in an organized manner. Each student has their own plate and their own spoon. The cook comes from the kitchen, carrying the meal for the day. Assisted by a teacher, she serves the food to each student, who eagerly and patiently waits for the food to come to them.

The students clearly enjoy the food, and they devour it with much gusto, laughing and chatting with their friends as they do so.

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Students waiting for their meals to be served.

At the end of the meal, the students bring their plates to the washing point, where each of them has the responsibility of washing their own plates. After washing the plates, the students run off to play, their stomachs filled with warm and nutritious food.

For The Children

Purchasing plates and storage facilities, ensuring that the cooks have good hygiene practices and letting the students wash their own plates – these steps might be troublesome and may take an extra portion of effort (and funds) from Miss Savita, her team, and her cooks but she feels that it is all worth it.

Miss Savita shared with us that she simply wants the best for her students, who hold the key to the future. As the children happily run around the school and enjoy the remainder of their break, we can’t help but feel that she is going in the right direction.

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Finally, it’s time to eat!

All over Mewat, head-masters are putting into place innovative practices which are improving the education of the students in their school. Over the month of December, three interns from the SRF Foundation visited 7 of these schools to document the practices and to interview the head-masters.

With these reports, they seek to give recognition to these schools, and to share with the world little bits of progress that are being made, even in the most rural of places.

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