I recently got the opportunity to visit a school called Christel House Lavasa , district Pune , Maharashtra , India.It is a small school with about 280 students and 19 teachers. The students come from the poorest sections of society and are the children of mostly illiterate, agricultural labourers working near Lavasa.Most of them belong to a scheduled tribe called Dhangarh.
I interacted with a few students of class Three and Four (10, 11 years old).They were extremely self- confident ,bright , curious and keen to learn .They asked me how I traveled to their school , and when I told them that I came by aeroplane , they wanted to know if they could sit in one and travel around the world .They questioned me in detail about what kind of work I actually did , when I told them that I worked as a civil servant , for the government .When I asked many students in different classes what (he or )she liked the best about the school , she would pause for a while to think , and then replied very spontaneously :"Our Teachers".I was amazed at the consistent but spontaneous replies
The mission of the school is to break the cycle of poverty and help children become self sufficient contributing members of the society. The school mainly works at their self confidence and tells them that poverty cycle can be broken with the help of hard work and education. The advantage lies in becoming better in ones life by working hard to realise ones potential. Poor or rich , improvement is in their hands.The teachers have spoken to them a lot and encouraged them to ask questions.The school has specific periods allocated for public speaking.
The arrangements , hygiene, the quality of meals served was very good .I was also impressed by the quality and proficiency in music .They have systems in place, regular quality checks and regular audits, based on which they compare their performance against the standards, strategise and improve accordingly.The quality , commitment and team work of teachers as well as other staff was impressive. On the whole , the school demonstrates very clearly that good education has the power to transform an individual , irrespective of the social or economic background , or place of birth.
The school caters specifically to the disadvantaged children .When I asked teachers whether the brand "disadvantaged" will not stick in the inner consciousness of these children when they grow up , the response was ambivalent .Perhaps a more inclusive system , where they also admit "not-disadvantaged students" also on payment of fees, will prove to develop better citizens and leaders out of these children .And I also thought about the children with special needs , children who have part or full visual or hearing impairment or some orthopedic disability .Not withstanding our educators, policy makers and international institutions talking endlessly about inclusive education for the disabled , it still remains a distant dream in our country .More enterprising educators with hearts in the right place , right attitudes and determination , are needed to bring about real inclusive education in India.