The human brain begins to develop at a tender age. By the time a child is six or seven years old, 90% of brain development has already taken place. It is therefore crucial to ensure from an early age that children receive an education that allows them to reach their maximum learning potential. With this in mind, the Atul Adhyapika project was launched by the Atul Foundation in 2016.
The Atul Foundation is committed to serving society with various initiatives in the fields of education, empowerment, health, relief, infrastructure and conservation. It is committed to fostering sustainable socio-economic improvement, especially in the lives of the disadvantaged through relevant programs. As part of the education program, the Foundation reaches approximately 15,000 children through three schools and other educational projects. Atul Adhyapika is one of the flagship projects of the Atul Foundation, which provides quality education to over 5,000 primary school children through 85 Adhyapikas in 74 villages in six districts of South Gujarat. The project aims to transform the lives of disadvantaged children by strengthening primary education. The project was initiated in remote villages with low literacy rates, poor socio-economic backgrounds, and poor school infrastructure and educational resources.
The Foundation identified educated, unemployed but passionate women in remote villages and trained them to become good teachers. The Adhyapikas received intensive training for six months and were placed in or near their own village schools to teach primary school children. They teach the basic skills of reading and learning, arithmetic, values and life skills through a | results-based program.
What is the Atul Adhyapika Project?
The Atul Adhyapika Project is an initiative to transform the lives of less privileged children by strengthening primary education.
Children are not passive receivers of information, they are active learners. Through the activity-based learning practiced in this project, children take an active role in their own learning where they learn by ‘doing’ rather than ‘watching’. Tools such as three-dimensional models, experiments, puzzles, flash cards and role-playing methods are used to keep the child engaged in learning.
The pulse of the project lies in the belief that although child development patterns are universal, each child is special and a unique gift to the universe. The goals of the project revolve around the understanding that all aspects of developmental stages in early life, in the personal, social, emotional, physical and intellectual domains are interrelated and interdependent. No development happens in isolation, so the project’s goals and program focus on the holistic growth of the child.
The structure adopted by the teachers of Atul Adhyapika adapts to thematic teaching and learning practices.
The result of the project was healthy and contributed to the holistic development of the children. The children learned the skills of organic farming, teamwork and interdependence, among others. The children now love attending their classes and are more interested in their studies. The children actively learned the basics of languages and arithmetic. Along with academic concepts, activity-based learning also helped them express themselves through various forms of arts and crafts. Many children have developed a love for reading and storytelling. More than 5,000 children benefit each year from this project.
During their teaching journey, the Adhyapikas have also grown personally and professionally. Apart from improving their knowledge and teaching skills, their work has also improved their status in their villages. Once an ordinary villager, she is now a loving teacher for children, a respectable person for parents and family members. School leaders recognize and appreciate their contribution to the development of their students. Currently, about 85 Adhyapikas are working under the project.
The project also improved the learning environment and culture of the schools and faliyas. School management committees are now active and interested in school activities.
Atul Adhyapika amid COVID-19
During the difficult phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, Adhyapikas has taken various initiatives such as teaching students in small groups in faliyasPlanning balshibirs and masti-ki-pathshalaestablish circle activities, plan outreach programs, schedule home visits and parent meetings, and encourage students to organize their own poshanwadis (vegetable gardens). These initiatives kept the children positively occupied and learning activities.
Jayshreeben resides in the Panas village of Kaprada taluka. His degrees include a PTC and a Bachelor of Arts. She has always dreamed of becoming an educator and now works as Atul Adhyapika since the project started in 2017.
Jayshreeben is one of the enthusiastic Adhyapikas and her sincerity is evident in her work. She is always curious to learn and evolve in her field. His greatest motivation is the transformational change that is reflected in his students and their parents. She was delighted to hear that a parent remarked, “Our child has become smart now and likes to study. We will make sure he graduates from a good college.” These warm words motivated her to work harder for the children in her village.
During the lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic when schools were closed, Jayshreeben undertook faliya teaching and students from different schools came to learn from her. Because of her teaching methodology, the students loved coming to see her daily and participating in all the activities. Shreya is a third year student at a private school in Nana Ponda. Shreya was very happy to join the faliya shikshan and she didn’t want to go back to her own school. When the private school teacher started teaching the students, Shreya didn’t like it and asked her parents to send her to a local government school where Jayashreeben was teaching. In October 2021, Shreya was admitted to Panas Government Primary School and is learning happily from Jayashreeben daily. It’s not about the school; it’s always about teachers and sound | his love and dedication to the work. Jayashreeben is a living example of a good teacher and agent of change.