Implementation of the Right To Education Act began in U.P. in 2015 and we started admitting children from marginalised families and highly impoverished backgrounds. These families live in structures made of plastic sheets, in slum areas or by the side of the road. Theirs is a hand to mouth subsistence. For their child to get admission in a good school was unbelievable - a dream come true. These children will be the first generation of literates in their families.
Since we had always believed in and practiced inclusive education, we were happy to be involved in this nation building activity. However, it was initially a huge challenge for us to integrate these children in the classrooms. We had to begin with ensuring basic hygiene and discipline, regular counseling of parents and being watchful of the language they used while interacting with other children.
We soldiered on. The transformation we see in children as a result of their school experience has been most heartening. We currently have 40 children who have come through the Right to Education (RTE) Act, children from whom we do not charge any fee. These numbers will increase every year.
In July 2016, the school was recognised by the Govt. of Uttar Pradesh and felicitated with the Malala Day Award for implementation of the Right to Education Act in the true spirit of social inclusion.
Thanks to donations, we were able to provide free books to all our RTE children in April 2017 and 2018. These parents would not have been able to afford this expense. We have engaged a set of dedicated teachers to supplement the school effort, focusing specifically on English speaking and comprehension. Special after school classes take care of their home work, conversation and extra reading / writing practice. These children have no academic support outside of school, since their parents are not literate.
We organised a special Summer Camp for the RTE children during May - June last year, wherein children participated in activities related to Hygiene, Art & Craft, Story Telling & Theatre, Basic etiquette and Social skills. The grand finale was a performance they had put together for parents. This was an eye-opener for parents; the first time they realised how far ahead their children had moved.
The outcome of this stretched out far beyond just a performance. These children now have a deep sense of love and belonging towards the school and their teachers. It has made all the difference to the progress made by children across classes. Most of them are academically on par, if not ahead of the class. Behavioural issues are now extinct. Parents appreciate the efforts being put in by the school and are very co-operative. Most importantly, the children love coming to school and are making confident strides in their march into history.
The school received the Malala Award (2016) from the Govt. of Uttar Pradesh for implementation of the Right To Education (RTE) Act in the true sense of inclusion.