Nearly half of New Delhi’s 18 million population are living in slums and unauthorised colonies. In these communities, one million children under the age of four have no access to pre-school education and less than 15 per cent of children complete school. Half of all eight year-olds in New Delhi cannot even read or write a simple paragraph.
The Halcrow Foundation, as part of a consortium led by the British Asian Trust, is helping to address these problems by supporting and funding the Katha Lab School (KLS) in Delhi.
The school opened in 1990 as a learning centre in the slums of Govindpuri, Delhi, with a class of five children. Now it supports over 1,000 students a year, providing a quality education to disadvantaged children and young people from the slum community.
The school provides a number of educational services including full-time education for children of all ages; a student support centre (KSSC) offering part-time additional support to those who need it; a crèche for infants aged up to three years, enabling parents and older siblings to work and/or attend classes, and essential preschool education and nutrition for children up to the age of four.
Over the last 25 years, Katha has developed, tested and refined its unique education model that makes learning a fun, engaging experience and promotes the holistic development in children, while raising literacy levels in both Hindi and English.
Katha’s education model consists of five core components:
1) Making education relevant to the lives of children and empowering them to solve real-life problems by bringing community challenges into classrooms, such as water and sanitation, health, and the environment.
2) Supporting holistic development and overcoming social, cultural, and environmental challenges to support children. This includes getting them into school, staying in school, and learning.
3) Using story pedagogy and active-based learning to help children improve their studies within the national curriculum areas of maths, science, Hindi, English, IT, entrepreneurship and the arts.
4) Integrated classroom learning, which involves the teachers choosing a different theme each year to which they link all academic and co-curricular lesson plans and activities, creating a fun and seamless learning experience for children.
5) Training teachers to use a variety of teaching tools to engage children through music, dance, theatre, discussion, debate and surveys.
Story of change: Dilruba
Dilruba Yasmine treks six kilometres to school every day because she’s determined to get an education and build a career. As an underprivileged child of uneducated parents, Dilruba used to be timid and shy. Her father is a school caretaker and her mother cooks school dinners, but within the classroom Dilruba thrives. She heard about the Katha Lab School through local Katha children and was enrolled by her supportive father.
Inspired by her one of the teacher’s sayings: “There is no waste in reading; it can all be brought to use one day,” Dilruba became an avid reader, consuming all the stories she could lay her hands on. She became more confident and started participating in school contests, workshops and was even shortlisted for a digital movie-making course at school. Dilruba’s parents are immensely proud of the 64% she attained for her 10th board exams, and look forward to seeing her excel further.