SAJAG

Partner From
10/01/2018 - On Going

https://www.sajagtrust.org/


Supported by: Wipro

About SAJAG

SAJAG has been working to address the information and opportunity gap in Kalyan, Maharashtra for the last four years. We run Complementary Learning Centers (CLC) for Grades 1-4 to bridge the learning gap of children from disadvantaged backgrounds. We have reached 103 children from two different communities in Kalyan. The learning levels of the children in the Complementary Learning Centers (CLC) has improved considerably.  The objective of the CLC is to support children in their learning in school. Many of the children, being first generation learners, don’t have support from home. The schools have failed to provide them with the basic skills of reading and writing. The NEP has revealed that despite completing schooling, most children are unable to read even their first language or do simple math. One of the NEP’s recommendations is to focus primarily on providing foundational skills for age group 3-9. SAJAG’s CLC initiative has been working with age group 6-9 on the foundational skills – reading, writing, and basic math since the beginning. It will continue to do so.

Location

SAJAG works in Kalyan block of Maharashtra. It is a part of the Mumbai suburb, which keeps expanding. Many settlements are coming up in the outskirts of Kalyan area. Another important part is the presence of dumping grounds in Kalyan. Many families depended on the dumping ground. Our work started with families residing near the dumping ground (who has now been rehabilitated to a farther place in Kalyan-Umbarde). We currently work with 2 settlements in Umbarde, and also with government schools in Kalyan.

The Approach

The CLC improves the foundational skills of children like Marathi, English reading and writing, and math. Along with the subjects, we also include social emotional skills as part of the curriculum. The two hours of input in CLC is very engaging and academically motivating. The plan and the curriculum are based on the LiRIL research implications and on the best practices in India. The important aspects of CLC are the age-old documented good practices: teaching based on the child’s level; focus on both higher order and lower order skills simultaneously; explicit instructions; creating a safe space for children to express themselves; rapport with parents and community.

It is new for the community and the schools we are associated with. The successful practices have documented the importance of scaffolding, guiding, and creating safe spaces for children and parents. It’s evident in the relationships built by teachers in CLC and the improved learning levels of children at CLC.

COVID Challenges and Initiatives

This academic year was very challenging because of the pandemic. There was a lack of common space. Every child/parent was approached on an individual basis. This not only alleviated the overall suffering of the teachers and students but also prevented a severe drop in the learning levels of children. The new classroom was WhatsApp, phone calls, and a series of worksheets. With just 2 teachers, we were able to reach only 40 students out of 100 over phone, as many of them did not have phones.

Challenges like lack of availability of phones and working parents prevented us from reaching out to the students. Despite these challenges, we improvised on our plans with the participation of the community, while reading and listening to other organizations. The team’s efforts were listed in Bookworm Goa’s newsletter where they had brought together multiple efforts by different organizations.

Our first response to the pandemic was providing food grains to the community we work with, as they were the most affected by the lockdown. We provided food grains twice to our students’ families with the support of Wipro Foundation, individual donors, and many other similar organizations. We also supported the return of the migrants by providing snacks, water, and food.

We worked on the following aspects in order to continue our work in CLC during the pandemic: supporting parents with children in Grade 1-2; creating home-based learning materials; regular interaction with students and parents.

Our team created 33 videos in Marathi to teach Marathi, English, and Math. We also created 14 sets of study booklets, which we gave them on a fortnightly basis to support their learning at home. After the first wave mitigated, we started the center for Grade 1 and 2 training of a teacher from the community while abiding by all COVID guidelines.

Of these, the most fruitful initiative was the first aspect of supporting parents. Along with these initiatives, we also contributed to writing. We were part of 2 joint surveys. One survey was done to understand the profile of readers in Marathi and the other to understand the learning loss in Maharashtra due to COVID. The former was in collaboration with individuals and the latter was with Sewa Sahyog Foundation. The links to the reports are given below.

Apart from running CLC and the various initiatives mentioned above, we also created a website with the help of volunteer support to spread our work. We received 12A certification for SAJAG. The process for 80G has already begun. It will be completed in this financial year. With the impact of the pandemic still imminent and its threat looming ahead, the plans going forward will need some change, of course. The importance of digital literacy and accessibility was something that the pandemic revealed to us. Hence, we are in talks with SUTARA, an organization that developed the Chimple App. The app focuses on foundational skills like English and Math for Grades 1 and 2. The piloting of the same will be done in this month and the project will be launched from the next academic year. In addition, the set-up of a model library is also in process wherein children would be able to lend and borrow books and toys.

The library will be a resource center for library-related activities for nearby schools and communities. In addition, we would like to expand the Parent Support Project across communities in Kalyan. The success of the project in the past two years and realizing its importance in the pandemic, we want to expand the project to nearby communities and reach 1000 parents of younger children. These parents would be able to support and guide their younger child and help improve readiness to schooling.

Plan for Next 3 years

Our objective to bridge the information and opportunity gap has taken shape of two projects – Complementary Learning Center and Parents Support Project. We are interested to expand the Parents Support Project in nearby communities and reach 1000 parents from across communities in Kalyan. In CLC, we will continue working with more batches of children, online and offline. We will also focus on the library component and expand it with other educational institutions like schools and societies in Kalyan.