Published: 18th April 2018
20k kids in Odisha are going to spend summer learning Maths and lovin' it. Here's why
Government school students in three districts of Odisha are all set to enjoy Tata Steel's summer camps that will be conducted over the next couple of months
Children in urban areas spend their summers picking up fun and interesting skills. But what does the summer mean for the students of government schools? An extra hand at home or in the fields, or just whiling away time with friends? Luckily, for more than 20,000 children in the districts of Jajpur, Kendujhar and Sundargarh in Odisha, Tata Steel will redefine how these students spend their summer this year. Through its flagship CSR programme, Thousand Schools Project, this Indian multinational steel manufacturing company wants to bridge the basic learning gaps in children between ages 6 and 14 through 660 camps this year, while also bringing back the joy of learning in the process.
The camps start with a learning baseline and closes with an end line. Last year, the baseline was that half the children had scored less than 30% in language and Math and towards the endline, 37% scored above 90% in language and 25% scored above 90% in Math
Not only this, "we want to enable the communities around the schools, School Management Committees (SMCs) and panchayats to play an active role in the governance of education in their respective villages," says Sourav Roy, Chief, CSR, Tata Steel, adding that last year, 500 local youth were trained as teachers and SMCs played a major role in providing oversight and support to these camps.
We want to help children overcome basic learning gaps and ensure that they can read, write, do Math and move towards age-appropriate learning
Sourav Roy, Chief, CSR, Tata Steel
Children will participate in three-hour camps starting May 1 until June 15 from 6 am to 9 am, Roy informs us. “But sometimes, the children have so much fun that they tend to stay back beyond the three hours,” he says, joyfully. These classes focus on language and Math, and about four to six activities are based on the curriculum every day to enhance the class dynamics. There are strategies and materials in place to make sure that by the end of the camp, children develop various competencies like drawing, reading, writing, describing, storytelling, dramatisation, vocabulary-building, sorting, matching, counting, pattern-making, place value, mental math and more.
Though its five-year project initiated in 2015, it was piloted in Odisha only last year. The programme has positively impacted 40,000 students directly, 1.25 lakh indirectly and 16,000 through the summer camps
But these are not the only takeaways for children. "The confidence that kids gain is the biggest takeaway. Children enjoy working together, doing new and refreshing things, feeling challenged and ultimately getting it right," says Roy. And this is on display for everyone to witness on the last day of camp, where children present dramas, songs and more. Proud parents watch their children blossom.
In the limelight: Students during one of the classes of the summer camp
And when these children return to their regular classes, it has been found that they become more proactive, engaged and regular. And in the process, the attitudes of their parents and teachers become more respectful towards them, states Roy. This year, Tata Steel and Aspire, their implementation partner, want to step up their game and not just in terms of numbers. They want to reach out to remote areas too, which they couldn't do last year.
Last year, the schools and the communities were highly enthusiastic. Parents and SMC members visited the classes every day. This year's curriculum will be the same as last year's, but with improvements based on last year’s review
“We will also try to have touch points with students throughout the year to ensure retention of learning,” informs Roy. And though these summer camps are a small, albeit significant activity under the Learn vertical of the Thousand Schools Project, it ensures that children go back to school on a firmer footing.