Street kids make it to classrooms and how

Street kids make it to classrooms and how
At Shantinagar Municipal School, Sarva Shiksha works; 47 made it to mainstream schools
Mihika Basu

Mumbai, March 10: Three-years back all that Sheetal Jagdish Jadhav did was to look after her siblings and roam the streets. Two-year’s ago, Kanaka Valli and her parents used to sell flowers at street signals. And both could never dream of making it to a mainstream school.

But today, thanks to the initial efforts of the Shantinagar Municipal School near the Arthur Road Jail, Jadhav is studying in class three at K K Marg Hindi Municipal School, while Valli is in class two at the Aureshnagar Tamil Municipal School.

“We started educating street children under the government’s Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan around three years back,” said Shantinagar Municipal School teacher and project coordinator Balarajadatta Gosavi. Now within a span of three years, approximately 47 under-privileged street children from the G-South Ward have been benefited by the school’s efforts.

Considering that the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has spent only 23.80 per cent of the funds meant for the programme—it is ranked 17 among the 23 corporations—Shantinagar School stands out as one of the few which has managed to make the scheme a success.

It started with 124 children in mid-2004. Today, it has 82 children—from the surrounding areas of Shantinagar, Sai Baba Nagar, Adarshnagar, Dhobighat and Mahalaxmi Railway Yard—who are being prepared for mainstream education.

Students (aged 6-14 years) are taught English, Hindi, Marathi, History, Geography, Geometry and Arts and Craft. The children are also taught to make toys, face-masks, greeting cards besides being made to attend regular mehendi and flower-making workshops to make the learning process fun.

“Children are initially taught in open areas because most of them are initially afraid of studying within the four walls of a school. We need to prepare them psychologically for a school environment,” said Gosavi.

After initial training, which differs from child-to-child, the school conducts an examination. Those who clear it, are enrolled into mainstream municipal schools where they are trained for another six months and re-examined. This completes their induction process.

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