When 120 tribal children arrived at Sanjeevan Vidyalaya Residential School, their entire world was turned around! Pooja Patel finds out how the school became a place for them to aim high and dream aloud
For 120 tribal students who belong to the remote areas of Maharashtra, a residential school was a whole new world! As part of the Ekatmik Adivasi Vikas programme, the government enrolled these students into Sanjeewan Vidyalaya, a residential school in Panchgani.
Shashi Thakar, Director Trustee, Sanjeewan Vidyalaya Trust says, "The students are members of a programme called the 'Integrating Learning Project' (Ekatmik Adivasi Vikas Prakalp). Even before the children arrived, the teachers had started to get ready for them. Some teachers went through training with experts like Dr Ganesh Devy and his associates and Dr Shyamalatai Vanarase to familiarise themselves with the techniques of integrating behavioural, nutritional and cultural patterns that best help this segment of children. In fact, we are trying to work on a programme called 'Tracking the Adivasi Child'."
The atmosphere of the boarding school and the new classroom experiences were quite unfamiliar to the tribal children. It was thus only after four months that they began to accept the new lifestyle, be it trying different cuisines or speaking to their classmates, most of whom spoke an alien language - English. With the indomitable efforts of the teaching staff, these students now feel at home and have developed a positive attitude towards life. The teachers put in special efforts to teach them and pay extra attention to their communication skills. It is often very challenging for the teachers to teach the tribal children because of their shy nature. As a result, teachers resort to new techniques such as storytelling to teach subjects like English. This has helped the children absorb new concepts.
Shashi says, "The special training offered to the school children includes orientation in life skills taught by Dr Chitra Dabholkar and her team, storytelling showcased by Renutai Gavaskar, film appreciation taught by Dr Ajay Joshi, a special library programme run by Beena Joshi and talks on future leadership with Air Marshal (Retd) S Kulkarni. These programmes have helped the children open out their thoughts and spread their wings."
Along with the regular academics the children have also been exposed to games and sports which they had never played before. One such sport is football, which was taught to them by the school's football coach, Gurpreet Singh. The children have now participated in various football tournaments and Singh is very happy with their performance. In fact, he even describes one of them, Sunil Kursinghe, as having a "killer instinct" on the field. Another child from the group, 13-year-old Dyaneshwar Ghorpade is now an archery star at Sanjeevan after winning a silver and bronze medal at the national level.
Shashi adds, "A hand-written magazine is also brought out in which the written matter is presented in Marathi and its equivalent is written in their respective tribal dialect." Despite their disadvantaged background, these children are growing remarkably thanks to the opportunities provided by their education. They are now more positive and are working hard to fulfill their new hopes and dreams!
SOME NOTEWORTHY ACHIEVEMENTS
- The archery and football teams have reached the national level and have won gold medals.
- Savita, a diminutive girl, has created records in cross-country runs and also broken her own record consecutively for three years.
- Arun Bhondane, Dnyaneshwar Bhorkade and Rahul Jamunkar are among the top five in academics along with other boarders.
- Dnyaneshwar Bhorkade wants to do something special in life and would like to get into the National Defence Academy.