Friday, 30 December 2016

Opening a world full of possibilities on Karnataka Rajyotsava

To anyone staying in Karnataka, November 1st is a day of celebration. It’s Karnataka Rayotsava, i.e. Karnataka Formation Day.
On November 1st 2016, the same fervour could be felt at one of our partner schools. The crisp morning air, the children lined up with almost military precision and the stage all set for the day added to the anticipation and excitement that was palpable in the air. There were a line of speakers and along the sides, there were children dressed in traditional clothes ready to perform the traditional art forms. Amongst all this, there was a considerably large group comprising of parents and children crowded around team Mantra4Change and a couple of other people, clutching forms and pens. This was the day, chosen to provide scholarships to the students who excelled in their studies, but did not have the financial backing to continue their higher secondary schooling.  

Mantra4Change has found a wonderful partner in Vidya Poshak, an organisation that believes that poverty should not be a barrier to education. They provide 5-year scholarship and mentorship support to selected students till completion of their graduation. Their process of choosing students for scholarship has been meticulously designed and is two-fold.
Once the potential candidates were chosen by Mantra4Change based on merit, the process started off with a written test to assess the academic prowess that the children possessed. This was followed by a home visit to ensure that the scholarship went to financially disadvantaged families who were committed to let their children study further.
This scholarship support by Vidya Poshak plays a major role by enabling our children to pursue their studies to create a better future for themselves. Thus, this Karnataka Rayotsava marked the beginning of a partnership that completes the cycle of our quest for providing quality education to children irrespective of their socio-economic background.
This year, 38 of our students across three of our partner schools got the scholarship support. The school had graciously invited students from other partner schools of ours and they set aside a slot just to give away the scholarships amidst the celebrations, inspiring more students to work harder because they had to know that there is always help for those who work sincerely.

As the state celebrated its formation day, the kids celebrated a new world full of interesting possibilities for their future and we were the happy spectators.

The blog piece has been written by Ms. Amrutha Krishnan, who works as the School Transformation lead at Mantra4Change.

Saturday, 17 December 2016

Lighting up the temple of knowledge on Diwali

Diwali is the celebration of good over evil. But it is more popularly the festival of joy and that of light. It is symbolic of fighting off darkness. What could be a better way to celebrate Diwali than by building a temple of knowledge that could fight off the darkness of ignorance and illiteracy..! What could be a better way to celebrate Diwali than by creating a space for the tiny human beings- the students of the Kindergarten section- of my school to learn by exploring in an 'adapted' Montessori Method..! 

This beautiful space would have only remained a dream, but for the Principal of the school. The Principal's belief in the changes that Mantra had been bringing into the school and his trust on the process of transformation made this possible. This huge shift of mindset from garnering the little profits earned from the school to spending most of it on development of school is very heart-warming and is an achievement worth being proud of.

Read our previous blog on how we introduced the ‘adapted’ Montessori to our pre-primary classrooms.  

Gradually as the principal of the school started realising how kids were excited about this new way of learning and how this is benefiting them, he went out of his way to ensure that his kids get the best environment he could offer. The dirty-looking corner that used to store all the junk and discarded materials suddenly got transformed into a shining and bright ‘Activity Room’.  At Mantra, we reached out to our partner, Let's Do Some Good Foundation (LDSG) for monetary support. They contributed part of the funds for building this space, and so did the extremely invested principal of the school. Now that is how magic happens..!  

Usually these kids in the pre-primary section are live wires, full of so much energy that they can't always seem to contain it. Turns out that the activity space is their Zen-zone, a place as envisioned by Maria Montessori; a place where the child is a dedicated worker and explorer.
Every day, we (adults) stand around the kids watching them in awe as they labour in pure bliss and concentration. The teachers look on proudly at the children and why should they not. It is their handiwork, indeed. They imbibed the training, meticulously implemented it and even created a few activities to add on to the already existing Montessori activities. Such was the dedication of the staff and the management of the school.
Nobody could have come up with a better way to celebrate Diwali. It was the day a dump yard in the school got transformed into a beautiful activity space for children.

The blog piece has been written by Ms. Amrutha Krishnan, who works as the School Transformation lead at Mantra4Change.

Saturday, 3 December 2016

Samarasya - The Knowledge Fair

Someone once said –“A mind when stretched by a new idea never regains its original dimensions.”
One of Mantra’s partner schools took the words literally.  Apart from the usual, they decided to celebrate Children’s day in a fashion that gave children the opportunity to expand not only theirs, but others’ mental horizons. They decided to host “Samarasya” – a knowledge fair – for the children (and parents), by the children.

Students from grades 5th to 10th showcased their individual ideas through projects in streams of Science, Math, Social Sciences, English, Hindi and Kannada. They put up an elaborate showcase of three hundred projects. Anyone who walked in was awed by the sheer variety and concepts of the projects put up. From Robotics to Magic of Cards to Kuvempu to drip Irrigation models – they had it all! Along with these, children gave talk shows on Formation of the Solar System and on The Seven Wonders of the World.  This one beat all records known to the region. Receiving a heavy foot fall, the show went “house full” from 10am in the morning to 4pm in the evening. It almost challenged Bahubali’s popularity! In a different location, they also held talks that showcased their primary research in geography (courtesy TIGS-IGYS 2016), their views on Education and the lives of the Jnanapeetha Prashasthi.

When not presenting projects, many students were found volunteering and just helping out. From organizing to directing visitors, controlling the queues and giving tickets for the house full talk show, assisting the presenting friends, they did it all. Teachers witnessed a lot of student leadership at play. This made them truly proud.
The event received a heavy footfall of the students and teachers of neighboring institutions and parents alike. Students were found to steal time and take rounds to see their peers’ works. Each and every visitor was enthralled by the projects; many teachers also commented how they were pleasantly surprised by their own child's capabilities.   
At this school, 14th November 2016 was one of those days that will be remembered for a while. It was a children’s day where each child literally shone like a star. This was a day for the children and by the children. 

The blog piece has been written by Ms. Shikha Bohra, who works as the School Transformation lead at Mantra4Change.