Eklavya

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For over three decades, Eklavya has been working towards the goal of social change through meaningful education in the school system in India.

Setup in 1982 to implement the landmark Hoshangabad Science Teaching Programme (HSTP), then being jointly run by the state government and two voluntary organisations, Kishore Bharati and Friends Rural Centre, Eklavya went on to develop and implement the innovative Social Science Teaching Programme and the Primary Education Programme (PRASHIKA) in the government schools of Madhya Pradesh. More recently, Eklavya worked with the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) in developing the National Curriculum Framework (NCF) 2005 and the syllabuses and textbooks based on the NCF.

Eklavya continues to actively seed and develop academic programmes for curricular change in elementary education, at the micro level, and also conducts work in curricular research and material development in language and math in the primary stages and science and social sciences in the high school stages. This work feeds into Eklavya’s ongoing engagement with school education system in various States on curriculum and textbook development and teacher professional development and capacity building of various educational functionaries in the governmental and non-governmental space.

Our work and partnership

Wipro’s association with Eklavya started in 2004 and included two key programs – whole school engagement program and multilingual education.

Whole School Engagement

From 2004 to 2011, Eklavya engaged in a whole school manner in a few low fee paying private schools in Bhopal. The objective of this effort was to evolve developmentally appropriate practices in the school and create systems to support these practices. The effort engaged with all actors influencing the functioning of the school – teachers, parents, management. Regular orientation workshops were conducted for teachers. Teaching learning materials for primary and preprimary classess were created extensively by teachers. Innovative teaching learning practices were introduced in language and EVS in primary classes and inputs provided to teachers in higher classes. Exams in primary classes were replaced with continuous assessment practices. Regular interactions and workshops on student learning were conducted for parents. While improved teaching learning practices were implemented in the schools with Eklavya’s support, there was further capacity building of the trachers, principal and management as well as systems and practices to be instituionalized to sustain this work. Second phase of the program attempted to address this at multiple levels – setting up internal structures and processes in the schools, creating and equipping a core team to sustain and build on this work and addressing curricular issues (particularly in language development).

Multilingual Education

This program emerged out of the work during the whole school engagement program. During that time, Eklavya had started working on the issue of developing language and literacy in two languages – Hindi and English. However, while Hindi is the medium of instruction and the language predominantly spoken in Bhopal, there are many communities (and therefore, children) whose mother tongue is not Hindi. This mean that while the formal curriculum recognized and engaged with two languages, in reality, there was a multiplicity of languages in the classroom.

This was not the context in Bhopal alone, but is a common situation across the country. Due to the high degree of linguistic diversity and the historical and continuing migration of communities across states and regions, in many States, both in urban and rural areas, there are situations where the home language of children is not the school language nor used as a resource to teach the school language. Particularly for children from more marginalized communities, this becomes a pronounced barrier for learning.

Eklavya was familiar with the work of linguists and educationists like Ramakant Agnihotri, Minnati Panda and others who have worked on multilingual approach to learning languages. In Bhopal itself, Muskaan had also been working with children from Gondi and Pardhi communities and experimenting and innovating to address the challenges of multilingual classrooms in their learning centres. Bring this overall context and the possibilities together, Eklavya conceived the multilingual education program, as a collaborative initiative bringing together some of the resource people, Muskaan as a partner organization and Wipro to systematically work and develop a language pedagogy which uses children’s own histories and languages as resources.

This program started in Bhopal since 2012. A team was setup and their capacity built to work on multilingual education in collaboration with schools and communities to work with. An essential part of this research is to find ways in which Hindi, English and children’s Home Language can be nurtured in a way in which they support each other. While there were challenges in initiating work with the schools, Eklavya focused on setting up community centres to develop a curriculum and pedagogy for multilingual education. Based on the work done with various age groups of children in the community centres, the current focus is to develop a framework for urban based multilingual pedagogy for three age groups or competency levels of children ( (Pre-readers – Ages 5-8, Beginning/transitionary readers and writers – Ages 8-12, Fluent readers – Ages 12-15).

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