During the lockdown period, RC Baroda Metro, RID 3060, has teamed up with The Edu Club to send worksheets to primary schoolchildren through WhatsApp on their parents’ phones so that “they can utilise this free time usefully and gain some learning skills,” said Kalpa Rachh, Project Chair of Udaan, an early age education project which aims to equip students from underprivileged families with ‘four core foundational skills’ for a bright future.
We have started adopting Udaan techniques to teach our regular subjects and the methodology is just perfect as students find it easy to understand and apply concepts.
— Darshna, a teacher
Out of 700 mobile numbers of parents they got through the school authorities, to which the daily exercises are sent, 75–80 of them respond with completed worksheets making the project volunteers happy. Project Udaan is a three-year-old Rotary project that targets students from UKG to Class 4 in government schools “where students hail from lower- middle class families and whose parents aspire to give their children quality education in spite of their daily struggles. Poorer students from private schools are also included,” said Kalpa. She and Preya Desai founded The Edu Club six years ago. After Rotary came on board three years ago, they fine-tuned the strategy that mainly involves taking an Udaan period (or session) in a week throughout the academic year at the targeted schools. This year, classes are being held in six private and two government schools covering 2,200 students in Vadodara. “Over the last six years, around 8,000 students had benefitted from our programme. Earlier, this project was meant for Classes 1–6, but from this year, we are focusing on children from UKG to Class 4, and have covered 5,000 students in three years,” explained Kalpa, adding that the content is made available in Hindi and Gujarati also.
Foundation, the key
“Students from poor socio-economic backgrounds find it difficult to cope with subjects as they go up the ladder and there is need to strengthen the foundation learning skills at early age to prepare them better for higher education,” she said.
The four key fundamental skills taught are reading and writing English (phonics); math (numeracy); brain exercises (logical reasoning); and socio-emotional skills (motivation and dealing with difficult situations). Brain scans of poor children reveal gray matter less by six per cent with less surface area, thus resulting in learning deficiency by the time they reach Class 6. “But the brain is extremely flexible; with the right inputs and mind exercises, it can be improved,” she said.
Six Rotarians with expertise in academics help to design the core curriculum, another 20 sponsor the programme. At the Annual Day the Rotarians were thanked by the parents as at the Inter-school Quiz Competition held at the SSG Medical College Auditorium the students did extremely well.
“Our aim is to transform students with holistic development of their personality. At the end of the sessions, they become confident with soft skills like the ability to convey their ideas boldly and an analytical mindset,” said Subhash Sharma, Club President.
Parents, teachers happy
Bharat Rohit, father of Hanshit who is studying in Little Flowers School, is all praise for the worksheets being received from Udaan coordinators. “It helps us also to learn new things. I have learnt many new English words through the phonics worksheets,” he said.
Mother of Navya Bhagat at Dr Homibhabha Prathmik Shala was elated that her child was on stage taking part in competitions with confidence. “I feel proud to see my daughter on the big stage on such a big occasion.” Kunj Joshi at Uma Vidyalaya looks forward to attend Udaan classes and “he never misses it as it boosts his confidence,” said his father Vishal Joshi. School Principal Geeta Gandhi said even teachers observe the proceedings and find the sessions interesting. “There has been no absenteeism in these classes so far.”
Darshna, a teacher in Little Flowers School, said, “we have started adopting Udaan techniques to teach our regular subjects and the methodology is just perfect as students find it easy to understand and apply concepts.” In the next 4–5 years, Udaan classes will make a great impact on students, said Kaushik Amin, Principal, Aditi Vidyalaya.
Impressed by the project, DG Anish Shah has assured that Project Udaan will be rolled out across the district from the next Rotary year. PRID Manoj Desai and spouse Sharmishtha, members of RC Baroda Metro, have taken keen interest in this project and as a guiding force, “they are helping us to scale up the educational project across Gujarat,” said Kalpa.