Thursday, October 21, 2010

Satpuda Foundation: IFFI 2010: Video Contest!

Here's a unique chance for aspiring film makers to help the tiger cause!

MOFILM, one of the sponsors of the International Film Festival of India (Goa) 2010, have announced their global video contest and Satpuda Foundation is the featured cause this year. Click here to read more and download your brief

You can also download it from MOFILM's Facebook page

Please forward to any talented and creative people who might like to enter!

Prizes include
  • a trip to the 2010 Goa International Film Festival
  • exclusive screening of your video at the MOFILM Awards night in Goa
  • a 3 day stay in Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve

Please read the rules carefully before entering. And hurry - the submission deadline is 9 November 2010!

A big thank you to MOFILM for featuring our cause. Looking forward to some great creative work for our critically endangered national animal!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The IT programme - progress

"IT programme never looked so good...this time I am chuffed."

Kirti's text came in last Saturday afternoon, and I was really pleased to get such a positive message. He was in Pench reviewing the IT programme initiated in Sawra village in February.

This is a pioneering project in a way and we didn't really know what to expect, except that it would be much tougher than working in a city environment. The calendar is different in Sawra: in April the children get employed collecting tendu leaves and neglect their studies; in May the teachers had to help with the national population census; there is no pressure from family to study as is the case in urban India; some weekdays there's no electricity from 9 am till 3 pm; the nearest tech support is far away in Seoni...all kinds of factors we encountered for the first time.

Read the earlier posts
here, here and here.

So here's Kirti's report on this visit:

It has been a while since we launched IT Education programme in Sawra and I can now see it shaping up as we wanted it to. This of course was after many phases of discovering and re-discovering techniques that would work at this remote school which was far from any "modern," "progressive" and fast city life exposure.

I had been to Sawra on 30th August 2010 and I was not too sure if the teachers or people involved had understood how the training programme had to be run. I had told them it's not how much you teach, it is how you teach. We wanted children to be involved and feel responsible for their own learning.

That is the only way to take it forward.

After my trip to the school again on 16th October, I have seen new enthusiasm and involvement in this programme and that has just increased my faith in what we were trying to do.

It's about a two hour bus ride from Nagpur train station to Deolapar, a small town from where I get picked up by SF officers or one of the school teachers on a motorbike.

Those two hours on the bus I had thoughts of re structuring the IT programme which I was not too happy about. But when I reached Sawra school I could feel the positivity in the atmosphere.

Mr Mankar the school teacher who has been playing a key role in mobilising the villagers told me about how the programme is shaping up, and I was more than eager to meet the children and find out if it was true.

First up I saw bunch of children on one computer practicing the English reading module. They sounded good in chorus so I decided to test individuals on reading. All five children did pretty well in English reading.

One girl in that group was more involved and I was told she has been spending a lot of time in the school's small library and reading English comic books. I would like to thank everyone who have donated (close to 75 books till date - Gunjan Pandey, Anusha Subramanian and other friends). The school has also started an easy access library in the village so that people who don't come to school can still access reading material like story books and newspapers.

After talking to the children involved with English reading I moved on to another group where I could hear a lot of giggles. There I met Shailesh Marskole, a 12 year old boy who juggles
working on farmland and coming to school and also learning computers.

He has spent very little time in scheduled classes but has a sharp mind for grasping what's been taught; and he has not only learned faster than the rest of the children but has also started to teach other weaker students on his own initiative.

After meeting these two brilliant kids, I thought what else can surprise me? But then, I didn't know about Shiv Kumar Uikey, a nine year old boy studying in the 4th standard.

He is the child prodigy who escaped everyone's attention for more than 6 months...until recently when he shocked every teacher involved in the IT programme.

Shiv Kumar was not the best in school studies so the teachers thought he was just another quiet boy wanting to be hidden in the group. But what they did not know was that this quiet little boy's mind was capturing every little bit of information that was coming out of the teacher's mouths. He not only attended his age group's class, he also used to hang around with older kids in their class. And one day his cover blew when he started telling teachers how to get around deleting multiple folders at one go, then how to add advance effects in Powerpoint and add the sum logic to Excel sheet to create a custom calculation sheet, All this was not taught to children of his age group. He not only learns fast but applies his mind to what is a better approach to doing a task - and that's when he started teaching the teachers. And kudos to the spirit of the teachers who have taken his teaching positively.

Everyone at the school looks at this quiet boy differently now.

We have not achieved everything that we wanted yet, but to see a programme at a stage where you know it's only going to go ahead gives new energy to take it forward. All the resources that have been donated till date are utilised to the best. The books are actively read in the library, there are children always swarming at the computers and the laptop has been the star attraction.

In fact now the teachers are using the laptop as special incentive: anyone who contributes to school or village work or spreads the positivity of education gets to have the laptop at their house for a day.

Apart from this the other minor issues also have been taken care of, like the electricity wiring problem has been fixed, computers have been moved to a more spacious work area, children follow a time table for their classes so the progress can be measured.

Report and photos: Kirti Chavan
Sawra, Pench