They lost their home, their occupation, their language and their only way to have a strong foothold in the world. The life of a refugee is one that doesn’t involve a normal one that you and I are used to. None the less, they have a life that is valued and a story that must be heard.
Relating to primary education and healthcare, there is an absence of a sustainable model that prevents refugee children from getting the best of schooling. Therefore, Enactus DCAC recognized their position to bring a change and pledged to do their bit to battle one of the biggest problems facing the world at this instance- The Refugee Crisis.
As collaboration increased, help emerged and the vortex of togetherness led to the successful launch of Project Taaleem-to provide access to quality primary education for the refugee community. In a recent interview with Enactus DCAC, we get a closer insight into the heart and soul they have put into their work for Project Taaleem.
What is the primary aim of Project Taaleem? When and how did it come into existence?
The primary aim of Project Taaleem is to impart primary education to children of the refugees through an active story-based curriculum.
Refugees are the people who leave their homes in order to seek safety or refuge. People become refugees to flee violence, economic disparity, repression, natural disasters, and other harsh living and working conditions. For those flocking to India, the hope is none. The absence of government support makes this vulnerable community, even more susceptible, with the absence of basic human rights and most of all absence of humanity from us. Primary education enrollment rates of refugees stand at just 61%, compared with 95% globally. This leaves a grueling gap. Refugees are left to fend for themselves, with no identity cards issued by the Indian government, it’s impossible for them to access government services. With little or no education, refugees are trapped in a vicious cycle of poverty and are thus drawn towards anti-social activities.
These were the main reasons as to why Taaleem came into existence nearly 1 year ago.
Can you give a short brief on the journey of Project Taaleem up till now?
The project started off a year ago with the idea of removing the misery in the lives of refugees residing in our country. After the project was fully planned on paper, areas were shortlisted and selected, several community visits were done to make a community hold, particular NGOs were contacted in the areas, identification of teacher from the community itself was done, and lastly, a curriculum was decided.
Please elaborate on how the ‘Active Story Based Curriculum’ is used for primary education?
Storytelling takes the center stage in our solution, which is fundamental to the Early Childhood
Development & over time, studies have shown that it is crucial to developing Language, Creativity, and Logic & Curiosity. It is an excellent vehicle for promoting and enhancing literacy and language development within families.
The stories revolve around characters and plots which induce morals and ethics in the children. Basic arithmetic operations might seem easy but are quite hard to teach to these children, hence even in mathematics and science stories are used. Say, to teach the phenomenon behind sunrise and sunset, a whole new story is fabricated and taught which children listen to with a huge interest and remember it for a longer period of time even without revision.
Which are the major cities where Project Taaleem is most active?
Project Taaleem is currently active only in Delhi NCR with a total of three centers, with 50 students each:
- Jasola Vihar
- Shaheen Bagh
What is the step by step approach catering to the needs of the children?
The model follows a systematic step by step approach, where we first conduct a baseline analysis of the learning levels of the children in refugee camps. Since these kids have not been to school due to their forced displacement, they still have huge learning gaps. An 8-year-old child is not even able to perform basic arithmetic. To maximize the impact of their teaching methodology, they group children on the basis of their learning levels instead of their ages, thereby bringing a quantifiable impact on their learning outcomes. The curriculum is co-designed with the NGO partners, specializing in the field of education. Once the curriculum is designed, we identify an entrepreneur who shall also be the educator from the community itself & trained in the required curriculum as well as provide financial literacy to her/him.
How are children suffering from PTSD who has fallen behind in studies, cared for?
Several activities and interactive sessions before academic classes help to increase the concentration of students suffering from PTSD. Simply talking too, helps.
Also, we are in conversation with PlayForPeace, an international organization which brings together children and adults in communities affected by conflict, using cooperative play to create laughter, compassion, and peace.
What is the next phase for Project Taaleem?
We intend to establish 5 more centers in the next 2 years and increase the subscriber base of Active Story Model to 5,000 students in the same period. Increased teacher training will be on our mind to help cater to the needs of children correctly and fairly.