Governmental schools where learning is not happening are a common picture in rural Bihar, the poorest State of India.
Since May 2017 we and our Indian partners have been active there. In these months, we have visited the schools numerous times, have discussed with teachers, children and villages and created a shared plan for improving the schools.
How is it possible that children in class V cannot read and write?
One of the issues is that there is no structure in the schools. There are no "classes", the infrastructure is insufficient, textbooks arrive after half of the school year has already passed. Governmental schools have no priority, they have been neglected so far. As a result, teachers have lost any motivation.
At the same time, parents are often accused not to care about the education of their children if they stop going to these broken schools.
How shall this project change anything?
We want to make a new pact for education with villages, students and teachers. Only if the blame game stops, solutions can be found. School mentors are the key for our concept.
What shall school mentors achieve?
The task of the schools mentors differs from school to school as the problems are different. Some schools have no classes, no timetables, no stucture. Others are lacking well-trained teachers or basic infrastructure. These are the issues we want to address. How do you run a school as a principal? How can you succeed with reforms? How can you win over the village community? How do good teachers get recognition?
Finding answers to these questions will be the task of the mentors: creating timetables, finding ways of innovative teaching together with the teachers, establishing regular reading hours to make children used to books, and much more.
Which pedagogic concepts shall be used?
Children in these schools are often first-generation learners. Taking local materials into schools can be one way of moving the schools closer to the children and village community. Nuts can not only be used to symbolize numbers, they can also illustrate mathematical concepts like multiplication or subtraction. And of course, the different developmental stages of the tree until the nut crops up can be observed and described - in both Hindi and English.
These simple methods can allow the children to enter a new world and at the same time, they can overcome the fear of seemingly alien and complicated concepts.