ORGANIZATION: Doorstep School,
Type of Visit
Report: Evaluation visit
25 June 2004
Report by: Sujata Mulye, V. Premnath, Manisha
Asha-Pune contact: Sujata Mulye -->
BACKGROUND & CURRENT
2004: 5-6 Asha chapters are considering this project for further discussion.
Request for site visit
Jan 2004: Visit to DSS office by SM and VP. Discussion with Mrs Paranjpe
Dec-Jan 2004: Asha-Pune contacted Mrs Paranjpe to see if they had any
- Visit the project, site, meet students and
- Discuss proposals
and components of the proposal
- Clarification / information gathering
REPORT: - The Asha-Pune team picked up Mrs Paranjpe from her
office at Aundh and drove down to the basti at around 2pm. We were there at the
site till around 3.30-4 pm.
- The project site is very close to NCL and
borders ARDE. (The site is about 3 km from University Gate on Pashan Road. There
is a small lane on the right as you head towards ARDE from the University which
leads to the Sanjay Gandhi Basti or Laman Tanda basti. DSS has conducted a
thorough survey of the area and has good numbers on reflecting the situation
there. These details are there in the information and proposal provided by DSS
but just for completion a few points are repeated here:
area consists of around 600 households living in small houses which are neatly
arranged in rows. The area we saw was reasonably clean unlike many of the
urban slums that one comes across. The area is basically divided into two parts.
The one closer to Pashan Road houses settlers from rural areas around
Maharashtra whereas the area closer to Someshwarwadi houses people belonging to
the Lamani tribal community (some of use use to call them lambadis when we were
young--- this community is seen a lot in the west of India and the women
are dressed in pretty dresses with a lot of glass-work, bead-work and
embroidery.) Most of Lamani's work as construction labourers, some prepare and
sell country liquour and do some other illegal activities.
2) Working with
this community is different compared to other areas for various reasons. The
community and that area have a bad reputation due to some of the illegal
activities in that area (thus getting social workers to work in that area is
difficult.) In particular, the DSS staff indicated that arguments with teachers
etc can be a problem here. Acceptance of DSS and their staff has also been an
issue. The attitude towards education is not so encouraging in general --- it is
not considered important enough -- some of the folks argue in plain no-nonsense
terms that they could be spending their time more productively as construction
laborer etc. In the past several NGOs have apparently tried working in the
area and have given up. The area is also highly politicized.
3) The DSS
survey shows that a majority of children (410 attend school out of 703 in
the age of 3-18 years) in that area are attending a school (there
are 2 anganwadis, 1 balwadi in the basti itself; there are 2 schools around 30
minutes walking distance in Pashan). The proportion of kids not attending school
is high among the 3-6 year olds and 15-18 year olds. The number of kids in the
age group of 3-18 years who are not attending school is 293 (146 male, 147
female) which is sizeable. The proportion of kids not going to school is higher
among the Lamani tribals. The level of support from the family for kids going to
school is not good in general.
4) The basti has a nice building with atleast
3 large rooms a small playground (that has been set up thanks to a local
politician) for the purpose of running a school. However, no school is running
there right now. The building is just lying vacant and is also seeing some
misuse and vandalization by drunkards.
- The general strategy of DSS (the
organization) has been to ensure minimum basic literacy of all kids
(example: should be able to read a newspaper and do some basic arithmetic), and
support the further education of kids who they can get to study further or those
who wish to study further but are facing problems.
- For the specific
case of this project, the following is the strategy that has been adopted by DSS
(based on their experiences over the last two years of working in this
1) DSS will not be running any program for kids in the
3-6 years age group since 2 anganwadis and 1 balwadi is already running in the
community. DSS also does not want to appear as a threat to the organizations
running the anganwadis and balwadis.
2) The main target group of
DSS are the kids in the 7-14 years age group. There are two prongs to this
(a) For kids already going to school they want to ensure that they
do not drop out and that they can perform better at school.
- (OBJECTIVE 1) Maintain and make available a library of school books, guides
and workbooks (which the kids normally cannot afford). Make available some other books like story books and
other reading materials to enhance their learning
- (OBJECTIVE 2) Run
study classes and make available somebody (perhaps the library worker itself)
who can guide the kids.
(b) For kids not going to school they want to
provide them with basic literacy skills (at the very least) and enroll them in
regular schools for kids who will be willing to go to
- (OBJECTIVE 3) Run non-formal education classes
For the kids in the 15-18 age group, the challenge is very different. Their goal
here is to first win their trust and support, and then try to educate them. The
plan is to:
(a) It is
important to win the trust and support of especially the male kids in the 15-18
age group since at present they do create a lot of mischief and disrupt the
classes of the younger kids as well. Also if these kids are cooperative then
thei younger siblings are also more likely to attend the NFE or regular
- (OBJECTIVE 4) Run some structured recreation, sports
activities to keep these kids involved and cooperative.
(b) Show them ways by which they could exploit their
talents to earn more (example --- the women could exploit their bead and glass
work skills to possibly make a better living that that of a construction worker)
- (OBJECTIVE 5) Run a vocational "training" program to
basically teach them to produce better goods and market them (the kids already
have this --- bead work, glass work etc). Basically show them that they could
earn more by using their skills.
(c) teach them basic literacy skills.
(d) at a later stage plan classes to support the school going older
kids in especially english and math where they often fail at school.
What has DSS done so far?
1) DSS has been using its own resources (generated
from individual and institutional donors - 1st year was individual donors and
2nd year was a 1 lakh donation from Kanbay) to run the activity at Laman Tanda
for the last 2 years.
2) During this period it has done the following:
Done a thorough survey of the area and defined the areas needs. the project
coordinator of DSS is one Ms Renuka who explained the project to us clearly
in Marathi, Hindi and English. She seemed quite capable and knowledgeable.
Ms Reuka has also identified select people in the basti who will support
the effort as insiders. There is one reasonably influential Lamani lady
who is apparently very supportive of the schooling efforts and has mobilized
several kids to come to the school. The coordinator's job is to plan and manage
all the logistics of all the efforts.
(b) Currently running a reference
library (9-12 noon; 1-4 pm | M-F | Incharge: Mangaltai) for around 86 kids. We
saw the library which has around 360 neatly-maintained books/ workbooks etc kept
in a Godrej filing cabinet.
(c) Currently running a story book library (9-4
pm | Tuesday& Friday | Incharge: Mangaltai) for around 102 kids. We
saw some these books also.
(d) Currently running 2 non-formal classes (1-4 pm
| M-F | Incharge: Sunita Shinde and Suvarna Shide) for around 30 kids. One class
consists of kids who come alone without their toddler siblings and the other
class consists of kids who are accompanied by toddler siblings. This segregation
is required ince there is lot more chaos in the class where the toddlers are
also around. We saw these two non-formal schools too and the children. When we
went there, both classes put together definitely had more than 30 kids (
including some of the toddlers). However, Mrs Paranjpe admitted that average
attendanc is around 50%. DSS had tried all kinds of ways in the past to increase
attendance in their projects but apparently the success has been limited in this
(e) Last school year, DSS arranged for around 69 kids to be
enrolled in the municipal school. They apparently also hired somebody to around
the basti and pick up kids and get them ready for school in the mornings. But
unfortunately 62 kids dropped out. The seven kids who remained in school have
now been put in Ankur school (see Asha-Pune's other project report on Ankur) and an auto
hired by DSS drops them and picks them up from school everyday.
(f) DSS has
been having a lot of problems retaining the teachers. This is the main problem
that they are facing in this project. Apparently, they have changed 10 teachers
in a year. So maintaining the continuity hs been a problem. (Basically, the
teachers hesitate comeing to this area due to its bad reputation. Also some of
the teachers have had arguments with some of the older kids - who were up to no
good - and left. Issues such as teasing and harrassment of teachers is a
(g) DSS organized a competition for the older girls of the community
to gauge their skills in bead and glass work. Around 10 girls competed. DSS
provided the raw materials. They gave some cash (on the insistence of the girls)
rewards to the girls also. DSS also employed one girls to make some sample bead
necklaces and pieces so that they could take the samples to experts and discover
routes for getting a better value for these products and also find suitable
markets. This work is still in progress.
- Our general impression of the kids was that the
kids in the NFE class seemed enthusiastic and interested. They listened to the
teachers and did some coloring and rangoli while we were there. Some other male
kids (who are not part of the NFE) also came around and disturbed the class
while we were there. (Those male kids were also quite innocent and just being
naughty and curious.) The rangolis and drawings were quite good. The classes are
held in the "Balwadi" buidling (the nice school building available). The rooms
have been taken on rent. Currently three rooms have been taken on rent by DSS.
The students sit on the floor. One of the classrooms has a dhari. But the class
rooms are clean with plenty of natural light and wind. We also saw some other
older male kids loitering around. While we were there the 2 NFE classes were in
progress and a third study room activity was taking place. The kids in the NFE
classes are at a very early stage (despite being older) and have yet to be
taught writing etc. The kids in the reference library etc programs seem to be
doing quite well and have even written essays etc. (but these kids go to regular
school). The school has a 13 step process to literacy that they follow. Every
student's progress is being tracked monthly.
CLARIFICATIONS ON THE
- In the opinion of one of us (VP), coordinators play an important
role in ensuring that a project succeeds and taking care of the many small
issues that come up. The coordinator also looks at the project holistically, is
responsible for monitoring the progress of students overall and ensuring that
the project is making progress as a whole.
- 2 study room and 2 NFE class
teachers aee planned.
- The recreation center and worker for that is meant
for the purpose explained above. See Objective 4 above.
- Furniture includes
things like Dharis, cupboards, cabinets for the books etc.
- DSS said that
there will be some other expenses for the project but they will get the money
from other sources. Things like some sports goods etc will be bought but
for such things people are willing to give one-time donations. However,
there is no support for items such as teacher's salary etc. We have asked Mrs
Paranjpe to include all costs in teh budget and explicitly say that those items
will be raised separately indicating possible sources.
- We felt that project is well conceived and thought
out. The ideas are definitely worth trying out. A lot of thinking and home work has
gone into the proposal. The DSS
team is definitely experienced and well organized to take up this
- There is no doubt that this community needs such an effort to
increase literacy levels and reduce drop-out levels. Whether DSS will be
successful or not is another question. We felt that at least Mrs Paranjpe and
her team understand the issues, possible barriers and are trying with sincerity
to make a change.