Chimbel, a MOP site that overwhelms and excites me. We are still finding our feet, after close to 45 odd sessions over 7 months. We don’t know the demographic, the population, the profiles, the learning levels, what we do know is there is a need. 100 odd children demanding story and books and even 7 resource people struggling to cope, took us back to the drawing board.
To start with it seemed logical at this point to assess where the children are . So we have attempted to pilot a baseline test that measures some literacy skills at ‘a’ level. We administered the test to all children in grade 3 and above with scaffolding of an RP. Results are computed and will define our intervention in more serious ways. What the testing has done over the last 2 sessions is dropped the numbers to those who want to be in the program. The number of boys are more than the girls, the age profile is between 9 – 13 years and there is a hunger.
On Saturday, 7th July, we went armed with baseline sheets for new kids, and a story and activity for the others. We began in earnest.
Manageable numbers, ID cards ( our new citizenship crowd control initiative) were all brought in and children appeared happy to be part of something they have now grown to expect.
We started our session with exploring books and the usual enthusiasm to dip into a box of books and find something that can be read/explored/ understood took everyone’s attention for some time.
When I thought they would be ready to move to the read aloud, the first meek request came in “teacher mhaka test di“. Akash 13 years who had already taken the baseline wants another test. Desiree our desired RP looks at me and says “ hasn’t he done this already?” and I see the look in his eyes, he wants a test! Before I wrap my head around this, another comes up and says, “ I want to write’ and he reaches for the test sheet.
And so it was decided, we need worksheets that are ‘test like’. In so many years of education, I have rarely seen this hunger to be tested. More than being tested it is the hunger to make meaning in print, to attack something that suddenly seems comprehensible and to know that a resource person is there to scaffold, explain, spell out, tell, translate.
We soon had a whole group who wanted to be tested and so Desiree and I churned out quick ‘test’ sheets based on a book they had read and how wonderfully these were done. How empowered they were to bring back the sheets to us for review and to watch for the first time probably what it is to experience meaning making and assessment.
We learnt that we need to take books with structured worksheets to allow children like Akash, Raju, Mahesh, Manoj and Sohail the opportunity to take ‘tests’. Our journey gets more exciting while getting more challenging , but I am convinced we are on our way to an enriching literacy program where we all learn and grow.