Life-skills education is the need of the hour

A few months ago when I joined Enabling Leadership Foundation through SCOPE in Dharwad, I knew I am being associated with something of prime importance. Life-skills education is the need of the hour. Students in our villages needed a direction and our programs were providing them exactly that.

Over a few months, we – the coaches could see visible changes and developments in the children in the classroom and in the field. But are these changes being carried into their daily lives? Are children being more helpful at home? Are they being more sensitive towards the needs of others? Are our class students displaying their values with their families? These questions plagued me for weeks before I decided to pitch and take on the responsibility of visiting some homes of the children in our target villages.

Over the past few weeks, I have visited the homes of 41 children as a sample group. I have to be honest – there was a lot of skepticism I was carrying. Will their parents know of our program? What if the parents refuse to speak to me? Or worse still, they see no change at all in the children back home? Sitting on the shore I was getting worried about the current in the ocean. I knew I had to take a dive and face the waves head on. Yes, there was the danger of being carried away by the waves, but there was also the possibility of floating with them.

Taking the plunge, with support from the team, I initiated our home visits with the objective of getting more first-hand information on life-skills development of students and also to look into the understanding the community had for our school programs.

Our interaction with parents was surprisingly easy. What started as us asking questions in order to get to know the family better, soon transformed into a comfortable conversation with parents sharing with us the commendable changes they have observed in students. Most parents were aware of the programs their children were a part of and were curious to get to know how we were able to keep them so interested.

Through the home visits we have currently done, there are three stories that I would like to share here. I would like to point out that not all visible changes can solely be attributed to our programs but with our focus on confidence building and self-belief, we know somewhere we are also a vital factor in the change.

The first story is of a 10-year old girl, Savitri Angadi from the village of Karadigudda. She is a part of the girls’ football team. I met her mother who felt very proud of her daughter. Savitri has grown up seeing a lot of fights between her parents, often violence as well. Whenever her parents would fight she would sit in a corner covered in a bed sheet waiting for the fight to end. A few months into joining the program, Savitri’s mother noticed some noteworthy change in her. Savitri refused to sit in a corner covering herself whenever her parents fought. Gradually she mustered the courage to confront her father and asked him not to hit her mother. At first the parents were both taken aback. But perhaps it made them realise the impact they were having on the child. And ever since she stood up, Savitri’s father has not hit her mother.

The second story sf of Chaitra Hadapad who is also from Karadigudda and a part of the girls’ football team. Post joining our program, Chaitra developed an interest in learning Hindi and English. We were intrigued, and I asked her, “Why do you want to learn these languages?” She smiled, “Sir, we will need to go out of our village and when we do, we will need Hindi and English to communicate with others.” It was heartening to see horizons expand and see the students work on themselves.

My final story is about Shyavamma and Sangeeta from Timmapur, who are currently attending our Music Program. When I met their families, I was told that both these girls were very shy – they would hardly interact or speak with others, even their own peer group. But today, thanks to the music program, these girls have developed confidence to sing and perform well in front of a large audience.

These are just a few of the many heartening stories I have come across while meeting the families of our children. It is constant hard work to be able to keep children interested and learning. But when I am told of the students getting up early in the morning on their own to be able to make it to the class on time, I know we are doing a good job.

– Mahadev Baratake, Program Officer, Dharwad





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