The Shikshamitra Story
The School (2005-2011)
One of Shikskhamitra’s main goals is the development of a more diversified secondary curriculum that works to redefine what a school should look like and what should happen within the system. We tried to experiment with the alternatives we formulated hoping that our ideas, materials, and methods for schooling and working with children would help their innate talents to emerge and be a model for future school systems.
For 6 years (2005-2011) we successfully ran an alternative school serving upper-primary to middle-school level students (8-16yrs) in Chetla, Kolkata. Our school offered children a supportive and artistic environment where they could discover their personal strengths and weaknesses through hands-on learning in all subjects, including classes like film studies, cooking and magic. Although we have now closed our school, we have emerged as a training center and a library, experimenting with teaching and learning strategies that develop a child’s full self, rather than focus only on textual learning.
It was open every weekday. Subjects taught included Languages such as Bengali and English supplemented with Films, Art (Clay, Craft, Dance, Theater, Music), Social Studies (History, Geography, Civics), EVS and Cooking, Maths, Science, Health, etc. Students also had extensive use of the library and participated in various observations of their locality.
Present Status of Children - While some of the Skm students (12 -16) continue their studies in government schools others(16 -22) have completed school(secondary), left school in higher classes or discontinued studying. Almost all of them are pursuing careers in offices, factories( many as artisans), shops and hotels. Driving, art and craft have been chosen by few while some are also into independent ventures.Performing arts ( acting and dancing), crafts, writing continue to be a passion for many.
Communication skills in Bangla and English,punctuality, courage to share one's point of view, ability to get along with others and confidence, are some of the necessary skills acquired in Shikshamitra, claim most of the students, that see them through their lives.