As a team at Bookworm, we are constantly given chances to grow and reflect and deepen our understanding of the work we do. In this month, that opportunity came in the form of an exposure visit, to organisations that work with literacy and children’s literature in Mumbai.
And so it was that a 3 person team including Niju, Sheena and I set off on the 14th of this month. The course of this visit was meant to include visits to Doorsteps Schools, Muktangan and Mumbai Mobile Creches, all of which strongly work towards ‘sakshar’ (literacy).
On our first day there, we were to visit the Doorsteps Schools (DSS) community learning centre. We sat in on classes and observed the happening. In this learning centre, the first thing that struck us was the nature of interaction between the teacher and students. At all points of time, this teacher had her class engaged and wrapped in conversation about things around, things in their world, things in books, about themselves…..it went on. In many different ways, there was also an attempt to link what the kids are learning to their home environments.
In all this elaborate talk, there is also a strong root to books. The attention with which the kids in this centre listen to the stories being told by their teacher is wonderful! There is a strong relationship between teacher and students and books are one of their many bonds.
Our second day, we visited a Khed Gally School in Prabhadevi run by Muktangan. A school run on a completely different model was something that caught us by surprise. Children sat on the floor in circles and each circle had a teacher of its own. They taught them the Maharashtra state curriculum, through song and story. Right from pre school to standard 6, every classroom was print rich and had the children’s work displayed around. The happy bubbly faces of the children, told us that for them, school was something they looked forward to, even if they had history, math and geography to study !
Mumbai Mobile Creches or MMC, who have a centre at Nahar was our scheduled visit on the third day of our stay in Mumbai. We caught a fast local train to Ghatkopar, and pretended we were part of the everyday work crowd in Mumbai. From Ghatkopar we took a local bus to the centre and I could have sworn that was the longest local bus ride ever! At the centre, we learned that migrant labourers’ children are looked after for the time their parents work at the construction site nearby. They’re given nutritious breakfast and lunch till they go to school in the afternoon. Also, for the time they were there, we witnessed a session conducted by a resource person who narrated stories to the preschoolers as well as the older children that were there. It was heartening to see that a place for these children to do homework and any added help that they might need in school was done here.
Also, we were lucky to be the first visitors to the bus MMC has now procured to take literacy to children who cannot access their centres.
Every exposure is a chance for us to grow, to spread our view of the world around us.