Bright @ the MUSEums!
Think of a scenario where children can’t wait to go to school — Their eyes gleam with happiness as teachers reach their home to take them to school. Learning history with a look into ancient ornaments and math by throwing pebbles, this is what school should be like! Sounds unique, and makes you wish that you had a school like this, isn’t it? Parvarish — The Museum School for underprivileged children in the city is doing just that, and bringing in museum tours as a part of the learning process.
It was started in January 2005, and Parvarish now has 200 registered slum students with a regular attendance of 160 students. The Bengaluru office is headed by Ramesh Balasundaram who took the initiative to start the school with the collaboration with Visvesvaraya Technological University where the kids go to study once or twice a week.
“I wanted to bridge the huge gap of education among the children. While I was completing my B.ed, I came face to face with this huge gap in education among children and that was the whole turning point. That is when I decided I have to do something or take up an initiative to change this societal scenario. I believe that everyone should have the same facilities for education as a basic right,” says Shibani Ghosh, the chief project co-ordinator.
The first day saw the attendance of 50 students that fell to 20 children the next day. The task of keeping children interested is not easy. They tend to drop out, and at times, parents also seem reluctant to continue their education. The biggest problem in Bengaluru is the commute. But that scenario has changed now. “Keeping the children regular is not an easy task. But the hardest part is taking them out of the slums and convincing them and their parents to take up education. This problem vanishes once the parents see a change in their children. The way they talk, their body language and how happy they are,” says Shibani.
A typical day at the Museum School starts at 2 pm when teachers go into the slums to collect children. Then a bus carries them around to the respective museums where they get practical knowledge of how things work. The teachers conduct sessions using objects from nature to teach children through games. The session is followed by a meal, and then a fun ride back home. Parvarish has collaborated with five museums in Bengaluru, and every museum school has a coordinator and volunteers.
“For two years Dorabji Tata Trust funded us, and now we are self-funded. The collaborations with the museum is free of cost and the teachers also don’t charge. Recently, we got an award from UNESCO and the money is being used as funds for now” says Shibani. The biggest challenge that the school faces is funding, convincing parents and finding enthusiastic teachers.