Diksha Khandare, 9, who attends Pravodhankar Thakare Municipal Primary School in Mumbai, India.
27 August 2008
Municipal Teachers Union submitted an entry to the first Commonwealth Education Good Practice Awards
Tucked away in a small slum in Sewri, a locality in Mumbai, India, lives nine-year-old Diksha Khandare, who attends Pravodhankar Thakare Municipal Primary School, a five-minute walk from her home.
At school Diksha, whose favourite subjects include Marathi and English, dreams of being a doctor when she grows up. She is one of 60,000 pupils who Mumbai’s Municipal Teachers Union aim to help through their initiatives to strengthen state school education.
The union encourages teachers to remain in the public, or state education system so they can help pupils, like Diksha, from poor backgrounds. It recognises that many teachers in state schools are under strain and therefore less inclined to continue working in the classroom.
Ramesh Joshi, General Secretary of the Union, explains that they implement projects to encourage and train teachers so they are effectively able to help the pupils in their classrooms.
“Although public education is free and compulsory, it also needs to be attractive to entice more pupils,” he said. “We train teachers so they are in a better position to help pupils coming from poor backgrounds.”
The closing date for submissions for the second Education Good Practice Awards is 31 October 2008.
Growing from strength to strength, the union went from working with teachers in 45 schools in 2001 to 122 schools in 2005/06, with around 2,000 trained teachers covering 60,000 pupils between the ages of six and 14 years.
Building on this success, Mr Joshi explained that they also started an Adults and Girls Education Programme in 2004/05 because they saw a lot of girls staying at home after reaching puberty rather than going to school.
Mr Joshi said: “We impress upon our girls the importance of education and also teach them about their own biological development which they might otherwise not hear about.”
Project co-ordinators, who pass on information to teachers, are taught by medical professionals, gynaecologists and project directors, and then the teachers train their pupils in what Mr Joshi describes is a “trickle down” effect.
Information on reproductive health and girls’ development is also available to girls through booklets produced by the union, and a question bank is introduced in schools so that girls can get answers to questions without feeling embarrassed.
Talking about the future of these projects, Mr Joshi commented: “We want to eradicate the distance between pupils and knowledge and to change the environment in schools. We don’t want a calm and quiet school - we want it to be activity based.”
This work was one of a number of projects submitted to the first Commonwealth Education Good Practice Awards 2006.
The Commonwealth Secretariat launched the first Education Good Practice Awards in 2005, after education ministers had recommended such a programme to recognise and acknowledge good practices in education throughout the Commonwealth.
“Back in 2005 we received a number of exceptional entries for these awards. Now that the second Education Good Practice Awards have been launched, I encourage entries to be submitted from across the Commonwealth, before the deadline on 31 October,” said Henry Kaluba, Head of Education at the Secretariat.