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We are a couple of weeks into the Work Exposure Program (WEP) at CMR National Public School and sister institution Ekya Schools. Our team sat down with Grade 10 student, Ms. Sripriya S from Grade 10 to discuss her experience so far with the internship and how her summer has been unfolding with her time at the WEP.
Why did you opt for our Work Exposure Program? What was going on your mind while applying?
I was excited at the prospect of using my summer break to learn something new. When the programme was announced in class, I saw it as an opportunity to gain real-world experience over the usual classroom learning. At the internship, we are on our own, being responsible and accountable, while learning from the individuals we are working with.
To apply, each of us had to submit our resumes. At 15 years of age, I don’t think anyone of us had one. I had mine ready after three hours of figuring out what could go in it. The questions that followed the submission were fun; all personality based, which really helped me understand who I was as a person.
I was impressed with the list of companies we could apply to; each company had a particular skill set they were looking for. Some profiles required us to code; a couple of them were onsite jobs while a few worked on empathy and service.
Where are you interning currently?
I intern at Key Education Foundation. Their objective is simple – they want to aid low budget schools with early childhood education. This is through textbooks, supplies, resource materials – they help however they can.
On our first day, we learned that early education is when a child’s learning ability is cemented and in a lot of such schools, the quality of education is below par. My friends and I also got to know that a lot of the children at such schools come from rural and underprivileged communities. In most cases, they are from families with abusive parents and sole breadwinners who don’t participate in their child’s learning once he/she is back home from school, this being at an age when the child needs the parent’s attention to learn better.
With KEF, we are currently identifying ways through which parents can reinforce what their children are studying at school. This way learning isn’t just restricted to a school setting but also at their homes.
How has your first couple of weeks been? Take us through your experience.
I got to meet interesting people from the time I got here, each one of them driven towards the objective of improving the education provided for these children. In our first week, we visited Nirmala Vidhyalaya, a small school that could easily be mistaken for a modest household, tucked away inside Koramangala, sandwiched by a slum community. Having been divided into groups, we were assigned classes to observe and be part of. Deepthi and I got to sit with the nursery class of 33 students, cramped at the back of a small room.
We noticed how the class was run and how the lessons were being taught. The teacher kept switching between four regional languages to ensure that her children were listening to her. We recollected this and some other observations when we had our reflection sessions with our fellow interns and KEF members. During these open discussions, everybody shares their takeaway from the day’s work, also affirming each other’s efforts.
Over the next few days, we got to interact with the children, organizing several activities, like those at summer camp. From playing musical chairs and solving puzzles to learning rhymes, the children were overjoyed to have us over, their energy and enthusiasm contagious!
We distributed papers and asked the children to draw their dreams out. One kid drew a cow on the field and said he’d own the cow to get free milk. Another drew a big cake and said he would buy the cake and eat it after he finished school. A few of them even drew concrete houses, telling us that they wanted to own one. We were incredibly touched.
They were such a friendly bunch. I enjoyed every minute of it. I wanted to keep teaching them. I felt like they were my class. We learnt their names, what their parents do for a living, where they live. They gave us feedback and told us what they wanted to play the next day. It was a heart-warming experience.
What do you look forward to in the coming weeks at the Internship?
Our team of interns is currently working on ideas that can help facilitate quality early education at such schools and communities. We are looking at themes, chalking out concepts, curating videos and resource materials. Our key focus will be on 5 elements – Concepts, Content, Costs, Time and Language – our efforts will be ‘language-less’ so that parents from different language-speaking communities can consume our content.
I will be working on simple short videos that will assist parents to involve their children in fun activities at home, those that will reinforce what they learn in school – number games, alphabet recall, colour identification and like.
For example, we designed a missing-number activity for the kids with ice-cream sticks and clips. They have to match the missing number with the corresponding clip. Parents can organize such activities at home, with spoons or any other material available. This awareness is missing and we intend to address it.
The next couple of weeks will be exciting as we will be visiting a video studio to learn about editing, lighting and more. Bidding goodbye to the little ones at the school wasn’t easy but we got to experience how learning takes place in their environment. I can’t wait to make these videos for them and their parents and make learning fun.
Sripriya is one of the 8 children from CMR National Public School and Ekya Schools who is interning at the Key Education Foundation through our Work Exposure Programme.