Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.
The mind learns through association. Training the mind to unlearn and learn is a process that requires patience, dedication, technique, and for a large part of the world - opportunity and access.
An able mentor can help create an environment conducive to learning – unlocking a wealth of ideas and knowledge in the process. It is then no surprise that teachers are such an integral part of our society. Teacher’s Day is one occasion to commemorate the heroes who make our society smarter, better, and more self-sufficient.
Encouraged to Learn, Inspired to Become
Sometimes a little motivation and a timely reward can change the course of a life.
Within the rural communities Essar Foundation works with, scholarships have the power to inspire students and to encourage them to stay in school. Students who might have dropped out because of financial constraints, or a lack of understanding of the importance of education, do see light at the end of the tunnel with Essar Foundation’s scholarship initiatives.
One reason that students from such locations drop out of school prematurely is the considerable commute they have to make every day to attend class. This is why Essar Foundation reached out to schools in remote locations with scholarship programmes that would encourage their students to attend classes more often. By involving the entire community in overcoming these difficulties, Essar Foundation has encouraged meritorious students to remain in school and complete their education.
Recently, Essar Foundation and Essar Steel (EStIL) Vizag organised a scholarship distribution programme in Phulpad village in Dantewada district, Chhattisgarh. Thirty-four students with exemplary academic performance were awarded scholarships. The programme reached students from tribal communities in six villages near the EStIL iron ore beneficiation plant in Kirandul, Chhattisgarh.
Essar has been intimately involved in promoting education in the community. In Hazira, where the 10-million-tonne Essar Steel complex is located, students from local villages have been awarded scholarships and certificates of recognition for their academic, as well as co-curricular achievements. Essar Foundation’s efforts allow students to take advantage of better academic opportunities, without worrying about financial aid.
Beyond books, Beyond Classrooms
Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.
Not all knowledge can be gleaned from books. Often, the things we remember come from lessons learnt outside the classroom.
Essar Foundation has been actively involved in bringing alternative learning techniques to school students in the rural communities it works with.
Essar Foundation’s flagship initiative in this field is an edutainment festival where children are encouraged to learn through alternative methods. The annual event employs a wide range of workshops, games, experiments and contests to engage its young participants. Hosted in various parts of Gujarat – Hazira, Jamnagar and Vadinar - this lively event enables students to take a multifaceted approach to learning, in unconventional ways. The most recent one, ‘Indradhanush’, organised jointly by Essar Foundation and Essar Ports saw a participation of over 3,000 students and teachers. As part of the event, teachers were trained in activity-based pedagogy and the use of alternative methods including storytelling, music, art and theatre, and digital tools to enhance the learning process. Essar Foundation has also organised a similar training programme for teachers in Keonjhar District, Odisha, on using the abacus arithmetic computation system as a mental development tool for children.
Essar Foundation and Essar Bulk Terminal Limited, Hazira, have also distributed learning material to students of primary schools in Hazira with the aim of boosting activity based learning. The students were provided stationary for craft work - colouring sheets, card boxes, crayons and water colours. The support was extended to schools to complement the Pragna initiative of the Government of Gujarat. Pragna is an activity-based learning approach with an objective to correct and overcome difficulties in primary school learning.
Essar Foundation also teaches students to embrace the culture of their communities by ensuring that different events in schools are accompanied by short programmes organised by the children themselves. This helps the students explore and cultivate multiple talents, beyond textbooks and academics. For instance, this Independence Day, students from Foundation aided schools in Gujarat, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand put up music and dance performances as part of the celebrations.
Essar Foundation organizes activities like tree-plantation as well wherein students learn how to tend to the plants themselves. A recent ‘Green Initiative’ activity in Andhra Pradesh saw close to 100 fruit plant saplings planted by students across eight villages. The exercise aimed at educating school-going children in the area about the benefits of sustainable agriculture.
Involving the young mind creates an environment of learning like no other.
On your mark, get set, change!
Play is perhaps the first instance where a child begins the learning process. Over time these games become complex; they become instruments of learning when it comes to teamwork and cultivating the right attitude.
Not only does a healthy participation in sports aid the holistic development of the student, but it also acts as an agent for social change. Having realised this vital link, Essar Foundation is working towards supporting numerous sporting events across communities in rural India.
By supporting the growth of traditional sports like ‘kabaddi’ in Dantewada, Chattisgarh, Essar Foundation is striving to foster an atmosphere across communities, where healthy competition, and sportsmanship are encouraged. Helping children discover the joys of play and camaraderie, the Foundation has also lent its support to inter-school sports competitions in the rural districts of Chhattisgarh. One such event was attended by over 1,000 students who participated in activities such as athletics, volleyball, archery, as well as traditional sports, like ‘kho-kho’ and ‘kabaddi’. In Dabuna, Odisha, Essar Foundation helped three schools organize their Annual Sports Day and saw an enthusiastic participation from over 200 students. Under its School Development Programme, Essar Foundation organised an inter-school volleyball tournament which saw participation from 540 students across 10 schools in Hazira, Gujarat.
Essar Foundation has also worked with the District Administration in Dantewada, Chhatisgarh, to set up a Sports Academy within which a Transit Hostel and a space to play have been built to encourage the youth to take up sports as a career. The Sports Academy also caters to the neighboring areas of Sukma and Bijapur.
By providing access and opportunity through sports, Essar Foundation ensures a well-rounded development for the student, across communities in India.
Once a teacher, always a pupil
In rural India, primary schools face the challenge of high dropout rates leading to low student retention. It is a challenge for students to be inspired by the inconsistent and often monotonous teaching practices employed in these schools.
Realizing the need for activity based learning practices in parts of rural Gujarat, Essar Foundation, along with Katha (a local NGO) unveiled a Teachers’ Training programme in the state, with a session at Vadalia Sihan Primary School in Jamnagar District. Teachers from 20 schools of Lalpur and Khambaliya Talukas in the district, learnt how to explain academic concepts using simple learning materials, and ways to incorporate stories and anecdotes into lessons to improve the academic performance of the students. They also learnt to skillfully weave games and activities into the delivery of the lesson.
Earlier this year in Surat, Gujarat, Essar Bulk Terminal Limited, Hazira, and Essar Foundation joined hands with the District Education Department to organize a two-day training session for primary school teachers. The programme, aptly named ‘Teaching Methods and Approaches’ was hosted at the District Institute of Education & Training (DIET), Surat.
At another programme organized by Essar, specialists in teaching methods and environment education conducted a workshop which focused on adopting various techniques to include the concept of sustainability in to the syllabus of different subjects. Teachers from 17 schools in Hazira, Surat, participated in the training programme. This was part of the Green Teacher project being implemented in partnership with the Centre for Environment Education (CEE), Ahmedabad.
Essar Bulk Terminal Limited, Hazira and Essar Foundation also initiated the “Gyansetu” project, an IT based education project which was implemented with CEE in 11 government-run schools near Hazira. Teaching aids, in the form of tablets with audio-video animated content explaining concepts in subjects like math and science, and general knowledge, were given to teachers, along with training in correct usage of the tablets.
Essar Foundation understands the need for the teacher to be an active learner and thus, provides multiple initiatives that enable teachers to become better pupils themselves, ultimately working towards the goal of sharing knowledge in ways that are better, and more efficient. Thus, a culture of learning is sustained.