If learning is enjoyable, exciting and entertaining, it can be very engaging too. Shiksharth, a unique program by Literacy India aims at doing just that, by providing a platform to slum children to bring forth their talent and skills in various art forms such as painting, pottery, theatre, dance etc. This experiment has been very well received and has been a major attraction amongst children of all age groups.
It started in the year 1997 with the help of Mobile Creche, which conducted theme oriented workshops for children of construction workers. There’s been no looking back ever since! The program met enormous success in no time. Infact, this program has created sufficient motivation for children to excitedly show up for the classes, and continue with their regular educational curriculum. Literacy India takes great pride in the fact that several participants of this program have now reached the national stage and some have even acted in feature films and serials. To name a few, Rahul in Omkara, Urmila in Blue Umbrella, the very likeable character Millimetre of 3 Idiots fame. All of them have received excellent reviews for their splendid performances and we are now flooded with more enquiries for auditions.
Their plays have been staged at The Rashtrapati Bhawan and now they’ve reached a stage where they are also sending children to other cities to perform. Literacy India children also participated in the cultural festival organized by Rangashree, Bhopal. They staged the play – Bhagwad Ajjukam, which received tremendous positive response and publicity.
With the support of Adobe India, a photography workshop was also organized for Literacy India children. This course was attended by Literacy India children in large numbers. Fifteen of these children designed and conceptualised a beautiful calendar using their photography skills.
OBJECTIVE OF PROJECT SHIKSHARTH
- Identify the talent and interest of each child.
- Encourage the children to use their skills and talent in a productive manner
- Help the children hone their skills by providing training and conducting workshops in various creative areas.
- Provide a platform to display the creative skills of the children, to motivate them to do better.
- Help the children get out of their shell and gain exposure, thus boosting their confidence.
- Help and guide the children to use their talent and creativity to their advantage
“Arise! Awake! and stop not until the goal is reached”. Swami Vivekananda
The literal meaning of Jagrukta is awakening. Project ‘Jagrukta’ by Literacy India, lives up to its name and aims towards educating and making people in slums and rural areas aware of key social issues. The program encourages the residents to evolve into greater and better citizens.
This is essentially A COMMUNITY AWARENESS PROJECT. The project comprises intensive mobilization and sensitization activities to make people aware about crucial concerns such as communal harmony, hygiene, disposal of waste etc. Since theatre is a stimulating and very effective medium to reach out to the rural population and lower income groups, Literacy India has been conducting street plays (Nukkad Natak) in the village clusters near Palam Vihar, to raise awareness on various issues. Almost 200 plays have been staged under this program in around 50 villages. Literacy India has also been performing these plays at various community centres and multinational companies like American Express, Aricent Technologies etc.
OBJECTIVES OF JAGRUKTA
- To identify the key problem areas in a group of designated villages and raise awareness amongst the residents on how to deal with them. Some of the common issues are communal harmony, female infanticide, hygiene and disposal of waste material
- To encourage people to take up the initiative in community based programs in their villages.
- To motivate, mentor and assist people to become human resource assets in the community and restore dignity to themselves and their families.
Street Plays (Nukud Natak) are considered an effective medium to spread awareness. The key themes are:
- Education and Progress
- Importance of Girl Child and Female Infanticide
- Cleanliness and Personal Hygiene
- Population Control
- Communal Harmony
- Vocational Training
- Aids Awareness
- Two days prior to the street play in a designated village, posters are put up to inform the village about the street play. On the day of the performance, the presence of the troupe with music is sufficient to generate interest in the program
- The street play, lasting approx 40 minutes is followed by an interactive session with the audience, where questions are answered and participants are encouraged to give their comments and observations.
- Post this, printed leaflets depicting the theme subject in a visual, graphic manner is distributed to the audience. It contains addresses, names, phone numbers where more information can be obtained.
- In cooperation with the local Panchayat, efforts are made to initiate self-help community programs covering hygiene, environment health and attitudes towards girl child etc.
- Periodical visits are made to the village to monitor impact of the program.
- After a gap of 4 weeks, another set of plays is held in the same village to reiterate the same sensitivities.
A higher level of awareness about key social issues is generated.
The street plays are conducted by Literacy India children, after being trained by professional members from the NSD troupe in Delhi. The scripts of their plays are prepared in advance and thoroughly rehearsed. Some flexibility is kept to cover any specific issues relevant to the target audience.
An accompanying benefit is that it initiates and nurtures vocational and creative skills in children from the villages participating in the program.
A team of 12 children have been performing these plays consistently and successfully in various cities in Northern India like-Shimla, Chandigarh etc. They are even requested to come back to do repeat performances.