the mobile classroom
K for Takoree
“According to ASER (Annual Status of Education Report) 2016, the 11th edition of the report that collected data from 589 rural districts of India, the proportion of all children in Class V who can read a Class II level text (book) declined to 47.8% in 2016 from 48.1% in 2014. This means every other student is unable to read something meant for someone three classes below.”
With an annual budget of US$ 12 billion allocated to education by the central government of India, free education for all children between 6-14 years old and government schools in every locality of every city in the country why is it that those that go to school aren’t actually educated?
If schools aren’t being able to accomplish their primary function - is it necessary to go to one, or can learning be brought to where the children are?
It is this question that stands as the backbone of K for Takoree – a possible model of mobile classrooms. The purpose behind starting this initiative was to experiment with different ways of making education more accessible and impactful.
K for Takoree is a weekly learning circle, where I meet 3-4 children who sell flowers or pens at a traffic light in Delhi to earn a living. We sit on the side of the road with our notebooks and pencils re-purposing the manicured sidewalks of central Delhi. The primary focus has been studying the hindi alphabet – a desire to read and write expressed by the children.
I have now been interacting with the 3 families and their children for a little over 4 years.
The numbers and members of our group haven’t been as consistent as I had originally presumed — this was one of the bigger challenges I faced with this initiative. The uncertainty of the amount they could earn in one day, the difficulty of long and expensive commuting and the nomadic nature of their work are all contributors to this challenge.
I have been doing this on my own. The impact is small, and limited by my limitations.
Unlike a school, we meet only once a week or less. While a weekly engagement has been good for building trust and understanding, it has been insufficient for sustaining learning. It has been far more challenging for these children to retain the sounds and shapes they’ve learnt.
Working on this initiative, I realised that ‘the mobile classroom’ will not succeed if it imitates a school classroom; we have to develop a new and disruptive way of learning.
In the future, I hope to use all my learnings to create a more disruptive model of the mobile classroom that can be replicated across the city. I envision a Delhi where all the children seen begging on our streets, frustrated by the lack of mental engagement, have tools and means to educate themselves. This would be the true meaning of learning ‘moving out of classrooms’.