The Pragati Paathshala project focuses on providing education to children in slums, who have no access to formal instruction. The objective of this project is to promote education to the slum children through bridge schools within their own communities. Pragati Paathshala is currently functioning in ragpickers’ communities. The project was begun in 2011 with only a handful of students. In 2013, eight students who excelled in their studies were admitted to a formal school in Lucknow. Twenty four of these rag-pickers were then placed for formal education and provided for by JanPragati in terms of uniforms, tuition and paraphernalia.
Presently, JanPragati is operating schools in 4 different slums in Lucknow- Makdumpur, Malesaimau, Baluadda and Akbar Nagar- with about 300 children enrolled.
Pragati Paathshaala has come a long way since its inception. In the present day, this project boasts a distinct and varied methodology for teaching children of different ages and learning speeds. This can be exemplified through the different classes that have been setup to guide a child through the basics of elementary education. They are-
This is the initiation class, where the children are introduced to English and Hindi letters, numbers and basic shapes. The emphasis is on building an interest in academics rather than forcing a heavy workload onto the children. Moreover, due to their younger siblings accompanying the kids to school, this class has been effective in occupying their attention so as to allow the older siblings to focus on their own coursework.
This is the “proper” start to the studies. Children encounter words and basic mathematics such as addition, subtraction and multiplication for the first time. This is when the differences in learning methods and pace become evident. This facilitates the division of classes so as to ensure that each child learns at his own pace and does not feel undue pressure.
These are the smartest kids in the General class, for whom the teaching pace is too slow, risking loss of interest. So, they are separated into a Cream class and are subjected to a faster-paced syllabus and comparatively more volume of homework. They are taught from NCERT Class 1 textbooks.
In 2015, we launched an ingenious system of education, specifically designed by us for slum-children's education, named as Process Education (PE). Process education makes use of the positive factors of slums, which are distinct from those of other settlements, creating a different set-up for learning. In Process Education, a short fixed Session of 10-14 working days is assigned for teaching, before having an assumptive assessment. PE makes use of their living and studying together. The slums can be seen as one great family that the time and opportunity provided by PE can be utilized for greater learning. PE makes use of Quantified scoring, utilizing statistical methods for assessment. This creates a synergy where one's attainment is the attainment of the whole class and vice versa!
PE is taught from NCERT Class 4-6 textbooks. Depending on comprehension ability, the kids are further divided into 2 classes- PE Buds and PE Blossoms. The PE Blossoms class is the highest level of education that Pragati Paathshala currently offers. We look forward to the time when Jan Pragati branches out into secondary and higher secondary education.