“Not-just-A’s” and Well-being Focused Curriculums
All schools have some part of basic learning techniques- essays, write-ups and those tedious, annoying long division sums. These are boring to many, and interesting to, well, no one. But, we, as a community, can change that. We can turn the ancient practice of rote learning to a fun, hands-on approach to education! Here is a solution that makes it possible- The Apni Shala Foundation!
The Apni Shala Foundation aims at building social and emotional competencies among individuals to constructively engage with society and have a harmonious co-existence, and to use a strength-based approach while engaging children. Every child and community has inherent strengths and resources. They believe that every child can use these resources/strengths towards healthy living.
As part of their programs, they’ve created a curriculum in the 5 core areas of Social Emotional Learning (SEL). They partner with a wide cohort of municipal schools and non-profit organisations to create a platform where children can easily access SEL education throughout the year.
The Apni Shala Foundation currently works with 42 education partners, 205 caregivers, 243 educators and 10,700 children across India.
"On an average, 86% of the children we work with show growth in one or more of the following 5 social emotional skills such as empathy, teamwork and cooperation, leadership, communication and confidence each year.” says Apni Shala.
Growing since the day of its inception, their year long SEL program has been implemented in over 30 schools in the L and M wards of Mumbai.
The yearly SEL program being conducted in many different schools has its abundant benefits. Here’s what schools implementing the SEL program can can look forward to-
30 Experiential learning workshops by Apni Shala facilitators where students from grades 1-10 use their own strengths to work towards healthy living
Students also get to try their hand at fine art, games and community service
Support for teachers
to learn SEL principles and implement in their own classrooms
workshops for classroom management and student support strategies
Support for parents, in the form of 3 parent engagement workshops in a year to help parents develop an understanding of SEL and how they can nurture these skills at home.
This amazing program didn’t stop spreading even during the COVID-19 pandemic! Apni Shala conducted online sessions to reach kids across India so that they could continue learning in the hardest of times. This had its own benefits, as the pandemic was a period of emotional instability, it would've been very helpful for students to feel supported by the program, thus protecting their mental well-being, even during such a stressful time!
One value that Apni Shala instils in students during the program is Community Services. Here is what the foundation does to ensure that it is a part of the classroom-
“Community service, or service learning is another powerful educational tool we use. Imagine when all the decision-making or empathy you learnt and experienced is put to the test in a very real world scenario such as arguing with the local police or working with different stakeholders to fix a community water pipe!”
Here is what Svaraj, a 7th Grader, said about his experience with community service-
“I felt that we were getting water where we lived, but other people don’t get enough water to live. We put so much effort in roaming around the streets and collecting data from people. I didn’t want to leave it!”
The Co-founder of Apni Shala, Amrita Nair, says-
“The students who didn’t get along at all were now willing to give each other a chance to come forward and ask questions to others!”
The Apni Shala Foundation proves to all of us that education doesn’t have to be limited to rote learning and textbooks. It can be fun, practical and can teach us skills that we might not learn otherwise, like community service, integrity and kindness towards others. So, just remember, learning can be fun! And as Apni Shala says, “Why not?”
Written by Vaidehi Pant
Vaidehi is an enthusiastic study-lover by day, and an author/reader by night. She loves to dance, draw, write, swim and do internships :). She lives in Greater Noida with her family.