Vidya Mytri Trust (VMT) founded in October 2015 and operating in Koppal, Karnataka, aims to work towards education of children from vulnerable communities in a conducive environment so that they become agents of social change in their community and society. The founders of this organisation include people with many years of experience and expertise in the field of early childhood and primary education, running a residential learning centre for slum children and also working extensively in the North Karnataka region giving training to young men and women from the villages to work in the village government schools as supplementary teachers. The basis of Vidya Mytri’s work is the personal research of one of its founders , K T Margret into how and what children learn, documented in a book “THE OPEN CLASSROOM” published by Orient Blackswan, and also in her book “Learning for Life “ published by KSSP , Kerala.
Vidya Mytri currently runs a residential learning center for children from the Devdasi community in Pampanagar, Tavargera village and neighboring areas in Kustagi Taluk and aims develop into an education resource organization for government schools and anganwadis in the region to improve the quality of education provided in schools.
The objective for setting up and running a residential children’s centre for children of marginalized communities, is to provide a space where children can learn to work as a group, to recognise each other’s strength and weaknesses and help each other improve, to enjoy hard work and perseverance and thus build their self-confidence. Children are encouraged to attend regular government school in the day time and return to the residential centre for further learning in groups after school hours. Very young children in the age group 3-6 years attend day school within the campus itself and are provided with a foundation for reading, writing and arithmetic through various indoor and outdoor activities. They aim to stabilize and strengthen their work with government schools in the area who are interested and eager to learn and apply ‘The Open Classroom’ methodology in their schools.
After forming the trust in October 2015, Vidya Mytri has set up systems and processes in place for the smooth functioning of the organization. Building a team has been a challenge, since it has been difficult to find people given the nature of work and their geographic location. Despite this, their work at the residential centre with children has shown improvements, not just in children’s learning levels, but also in their levels of confidence, ability to take leadership and so on.
In addition to the existing government schools being supported, Vidya Mytri has also begun to play the role of a resource organization for three more government schools to help teachers introduce ‘The Open Classroom’ methodologies. They have also been documenting their teaching-learning material, lesson plans, workbooks, evaluation methods, pedagogies etc. , which they plan to bring out as a book. The first draft of this book was shared with the Orient Black Swan(the publishers) and Vidya Mytri is now re-working the draft based on feedback received.