In Andhra Pradesh, in urban areas, most schools are run by chain educational institutes, which have their schools across various neighbourhoods. Their primary motive is financial and thus the focus on education quality and student learning is secondary.
The condition of urban underprivileged children is thus very bad. Government schools in urban areas are ignored for aspirational reasons and students try to get into private schools, which are not necessarily better but are definitely not affordable for all.
The underprivileged classes, where parents might not be earning enough to feed the family, one or both parents might not be present, or there might be a myriad of other problems generally coupled with a financial inability to fund the education of the children.
Current status of Samata School
Samata school is run in a small rented campus near Budhwar Peth and Weaker section colony in Kurnool city, Andhra Pradesh. Currently, there are 54 students and 5 full time teachers and another 3 part time teachers for IBT, arts and music/dance.
Activities in the School
1. Various national events and festivals are celebrated in the school, where children are involved in planning the activities, then preparing for them and performing. This further creates opportunities for the children to learn.
2. Recently, a children’s show was started every month where the performances are put on Youtube. This allows the children to learn videography, shooting, editing videos, scripting, performing, etc.
3. Wall magazine for the school where children prepare articles about various topics of interest and put it up for everyone to read and learn from.
4. Meet the guest program where local people are invited to the school to talk about their work, experiences, etc. People from all walks of life, like a local medical store owner, printing store owner, school principal, etc. have come to talk to the children about their life, work and experiences.
5. Financial assistance program has been started where children who need financial aid work and earn through some activities such as preparing medical paper covers, which are sold to the medical shop. Other such activities are being explored, such as to professionalise carpentry in the workshop.
6. Vegetable garden of the school was planted which was providing a good part of the weekly vegetable needs of the school.
7. Workshop for carpentry and other basic skills has been set up in the school and is run by an IBT trained teacher from Vidnyan Ashram, Pabal
8. A library has also been set up from donations from people, which is planned to be expanded to have daily newspapers, some children magazines and books in different languages.
9. Children also experiment in the kitchen and are learning by doing about food, nutrition, weights, management of money, etc.
Thus, through these activities, it is expected that students will learn through the pedagogy of learning by doing and also pave the way for self-sustainability for themselves and the school. This also allows the children to also explore their creativity.
In this way, a group of 50 children and 5 adults are living together and co-learning, solving any issues that come up together.
At the same time, the moral duty of the school is to accommodate everyone. There are serious classes for those who want them, others who learn at different speeds also have an opportunity while those not bound by any structure also have avenues to learn.