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Making History Interesting, Engaging and Relevant in Schools

Swati Mittal
Our journey started after having a small discussion with an 8th grader who said, History is one subject that he hates but on the contrary he likes watching history-based movies, listening to stories of past and exploring monuments. We could relate to him as we had felt the same when we were in school. We felt there is a disconnect between what a child reads in books and what he/she experiences. To bridge this gap and make History Interesting and Experiential for students we came up with a history-curriculum based Theatre where we pick a theme from their history curriculum and make a theatre play around it. Since our foundation, we have done 6 plays for schools in Delhi-NCR.But making history interesting out of the classroom wasn’t enough. We wanted to take this impact to the classrooms so that it could be sustained. And we started using Drama-In-History -Education to build classroom sessions. This helped us catching student attention in the classroom and make this subject Engaging for students. Not just the in-class sessions but, engaging with the primary evidence of past which are well-preserved in the museums, helped them engage with their subject better.Still making history Interesting and Engaging wasn’t enough as there was this question of “Why study history ?” in minds of students. They used to ask us about the relevance of studying history which raised a lot of unanswered questions in our minds. We started our research to connect all these dots and worked around the “Thinking” that the study of history develops that doesn’t only define what’s significant to look into the past but also, ‘How’ to look at it. It talks about Evidence Vs Interpretations, Contextualisation, Multiple Perspectives, Changes and Continuities and forming Judgements. The thinking skills, which are highly relevant to resolve the matters of the present society. Hence, we started working with school students and teachers, developing these skills through research-based history projects. And it helped us achieving the third paradigm of making history Relevant in schools.With this thought of making history interesting, engaging and relevant we impacted 4000+ students from 20+ schools in Delhi-NCR. To scale the impact of this work we are reaching out to teachers through our teachers' training program.
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‘Pragyanam’ meaning wisdom or understanding in Sanskrit, is a new K-12 school in Gurugram. We stand on the core belief that the objective of learning in the 21st century is to raise mindful, conscientious individuals who root for competence over competitiveness and aspire to live a life of happiness and fulfillment.Pragyanam- a CBSE affiliated school operates the unique ‘No Limit Pedagogy’ developed by PARWARISH. This pedagogy has been designed by Parwarish through their extensive research with children, parents and teachers for more than 10 years. WHAT IS NO- LIMIT PEDAGOGY?Our ‘No-Limit Pedagogy’ is about children discovering their own ‘No Limitness’ where subjects are used as a medium to develop life-skills. While the main focus is on developing these life-skills, learning happens along the way.The Objective of the curriculum delivery is to nurture and inculcate the following in very child:Problem solvingSelf-beliefIngenuousEmotionally and mentally healthyPhysically HealthyEffective communicationInterpersonal RelationshipsSedulousSelf-reliant / ResponsibleHumaneThese elements are the amalgamation of the innate qualities of children, the life skills prescribed by WHO and well researched and published lists of 21st Century skills our children will need to thrive in their lives.ASSESSMENT MATRIX: Each child is assessed on the above parameters, using the No Limit Scale/Assessment Matrix. Grades/Marks are replaced with detailed descriptors, charting each child’s growth and progress against the descriptor. Educators at Pragyanam go through an extensive 3 month training program conducted by Parwarish to not only equip themselves with these tools but also through a journey of personal transformation. This training is mandatory for all educators (academic and non academic) before they start their work with children.Operating from a basic premise that every child can achieve whatever s/he wants to; the no-limit pedagogy supports the educators in creating a stimulating safe space; where each child discovers the innate abilities and grows to be a ‘No limit’ adult. Parents are a integral part of the child’s growth. The approach partners and empowers parents to facilitate the process at home to create an environment, free from the limiting beliefs of ‘limited abilities’; thus, empowering each child to explore and grow.Our mission is to kindle a positive change in the country’s prevailing education system and partnering schools to implement this pedagogy where children are inspired learners being happy every day, living meaningful lives and creating value for themselves and for those around them!
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Happy, Healthy, Successful and Secure Children: Parenting Program

With endless exposure of media, drugs, substance; never-ending cases of peer pressure, bullying; and increasing cases of depression and suicidal thoughts found among young children, it seems like a very scary time and space to be living in. Parents sometimes find themselves lost -not being able to understand their children or their choices. Concerns such as screen addiction, unhealthy food habits, irresponsibility, throwing tantrums etc. are very commonly faced by parents today be their child of any age, or coming from any socio-economic, cultural or geographical background.  Parenting is not about techniques; it is about understanding children and guiding them accordingly towards their journey of becoming a responsible adult. Often rather than guiding, parents tend to rule their lives. In their zeal to protect their children, they unknowingly harm them.Parwarish institute of Parenting was set-up in 2008 with the ideology that each and every child is born with unlimited potential.Our flagship program- the NO-LIMIT CHILD PROGRAM (NLCP) is a specially designed and researched workshop for Parents, focusing on day to day nurturing of the NO-LIMITNESS of the child. Our principles and methodologies have been successful with parents across the globe, and in turn proves that the basic principles of Child Development cut across geographical and cultural boundaries. We have gained our success in the field of parenting by following our philosophy based on the Parwarish Child Development Model (PCDM), which was formulated after almost a decade of first hand research. The course is panned over 2 months of rigorous training, with the parents coming in for one on one workshops over 1 weekend followed by a month of coaching calls, to make sure that the distinctions given to the parents are actually implemented on ground.  This is then followed by another weekend of one on one session, and a month of coaching calls.  Some of the topics covered in NLCP are as follows: World of an adolescent.Role of ParentingBelieve! Nurture your child’s self-esteemMaking children responsible for themselvesAltering the Context of studiesJoy in Studies.Overcoming FailuresGive your child a stress-free environment.Body science / Sexuality education.We have also worked towards nurturing the NO-LIMITNESS of children with special needs such as learning disabilities, ADHD, OCD etc. and have witnessed exceptional results where children have been able to overcome their barriers.We have been able to reach out to over 10,000 parents and have seen exceptional results in our decade long work-experience! 
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How NTPC Vindhyachal helped 103 girls find their voice

Every girl should have the courage, freedom and means to design a life of her own dreams, a life marked with her own choices and decisions, and a life unburdened by the inheritance of her mother’s silence. Marching towards the realisation of this ideal, NTPC Vindhyachal, India’s largest power plant, has undertaken Girl Empowerment Mission (GEM) to aid the holistic development of girls aged between 10 to 12 years. The beneficiaries of this CSR initiative hail from 22 villages located around the Vindhyachal project. The basic objective of this initiative is to ensure that girls of this tender age are able to overcome their hesitation and find their voice in this patriarchal society. GEM strives to be the wind to the wings of the girls’ aspirations, and get them to dare to dream. Launched on pilot basis in 2018 in the Vindhyachal, Singrauli and Rihand region, the GEM initiative is now being implemented across all NTPC projects and stations.NTPC Vindhyachal organised a follow-up winter session for 103 girls who participated in the month-long summer session of GEM programme in the month of May and June, 2019. The Regional Learning Institute of NTPC Vindhyachal hosted these little gems from 22nd to 29th December 2019. During this residential programme, the participants were exposed to a number of disciplines including Yoga, martial arts, and dance. Classes were organised to help them brush up on their English, Computers, Social Science, Environment, and Gender sensitisation lessons among other topics. Further, the faculty deputed to run the classes taught the students essential life skills through regular interactions outside the classrooms, leaving them with invaluable lessons which cannot be captured in bookish texts. Movies such as Nil Battey Sannata were screened for the children to subtly communicate essential teachings such as importance of education. Further, sports sessions were organised everyday to enable the holistic development of students, such that they learn the critical values of sportsmanship and team spirit. The girls were encouraged to voice their thoughts and opinions through debate competitions, which help them develop critical thinking skills. Apart from classroom learning and extra-curricular activities, NTPC Vindhyachal organised a hearty Christmas celebration for the young ones. NTPC Vindhyachal Executive Director Shri Debashis Sen, CGM Shri Sunil Kumar, Suhasini Sangh President Smt. Karabi Sen, Vice President Smt. Usha Kumar, GMs and HoDs participated in these celebrations with the children. The celebrations began with the girls presenting hand-crafted Christmas greeting cards, which carried the signatures of the 103 participating students, to all dignitaries. The girls sang Christmas Carols with the NTPC Vindhyachal management, following which they were greeted by Santa Clause's cheery spirit. The girls also scribbled their sentiments on the leaves of a gratitude tree, which was displayed during the merrymaking. The celebrations ended with a dance session, which left the girls grinning from ear to ear.  Gushing with joy while sharing her experience during the GEM programme, Mahima, a class 6 student said, "The didis taking our classes taught us great values and treated us with a lot of love and care. I made so many friends in this programme! Thank you, NTPC Vindhyachal for bringing us all here!" 
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Online Attendance System for Schools in Gujarat improves Students' and Teachers' Attendance in Gujarat Government Schools

Till March 2019, at 56 and 52 per cent, Dahod and Dang districts, respectively, reported the worst attendance of students at government primary schools.Rated among one of Gujarat’s 10 ‘poor performing clusters’, Kalibel of Vaghai block of Dang had the worst report card with all 100 per cent of students having attended school for less than 40 per cent of working days, against the state average of 21 per cent students attending school for less than 60 per cent of working days.Vaghai from Vaghai block reported 89 per cent students, and Khambhla from Subir block 86 per cent students who were absent from school for more than 60 per cent of working days.A change began to set in when in December last year the online attendance system was launched in all government primary schools. From the dismal rate in March, there has been a visible improvement in July this year — children began attending school regularly and the absence rate at Kalibel came down, with only six per cent of students reporting attendance of less than 40 per cent.Similarly students’ attendance at Vaghai and Khambhla rose to 95 and 94 per cent, respectively. Which means only 5 and 6 per cent students, respectively are now not regular to school.The system is a part of an umbrella initiative covered under the education department’s ‘command and control centre’ (CCC) for schools, a pilot of which was launched in November last year.On June 9, a day before the commencement of the new academic session, the CCC saw the formal launch by Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, including the monitoring of even the staff.Principal secretary, Education, Vinod Rao says that improving the attendance of both students and teachers was one of the main issues that had emerged time and again, during the introspection regarding the poor results produced by students and the low-learning levels among students of government schools.“No matter how many new programmes we launch for students, unless they are regular to schools, nothing will work. And this was one of the major challenges we were facing. Thus, the first prime focus was attendance,” he said.In Dahod, another tribal district, more than half of the students at government primary schools in Dahod block were found having less than 60 per cent attendance.Six out of 10 blocks with the worst student attendance (less than 60 per cent) were from Dahod district.Within five months, from 56 per cent of students not going to school for more than 60 per cent of working days, the number came down to 11 per cent.Absence rate in Garbada block of the district dropped from 60 per cent to 15 per cent, from 52 per cent to 17 per cent at Devgadh Baria, from 53 per cent to 18 per cent in Zalod block, 55 per cent to 18 per cent in Limkheda and 60 per cent to 24 per cent in Dhanpur.Thus, quantitatively, Dahod and Dang are the districts that seem to have benefitted the most from the setting up of the CCC.Rao was also instrumental in setting up the CCC for schools in Sector 19 of Gandhinagar, which would serve as “eyes and ears” of the education department, through which 33,000 government and 10,000 grant-in-aid schools, the entire education staff, including block resource coordinators (BRC) and cluster resource coordinators (CRC), are being monitored centrally.With this real-time monitoring, cross-verification of implementation of projects, teacher and student attendance, location of CRC and BRC coordinators (through geo-fencing and cross-monitoring through the CCC) would be now possible.The CCC is not only being replicated by other departments such as health, Integrated Child Development Services, rural development and agriculture, among a few social sector departments from the state but has had bureaucrats from Odisha, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra visit to study it for possible replication.“With the system in place, teachers’ accountability has increased, which was one of the main concerns when it comes to government schools in the state. But at the same time we have made it clear to the 1.95 lakh teachers workforce that it is not about distrust but an attempt to improve the system’s accountability. And the results are evidence of our intentions,” Rao said. More links are given below.
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How a Self-Made Arvind drives Cars and Inspiration to other's lives

The Tale of a Self-made 'Arvind'Everything blue in my cabin is an epitome of work day blues. Days in and out, newspapers lie unattended and files hardly looked at. Then, one fine day I run into Arvind. This big bellied, half-bald, dark fellow draped in his regular orange T-shirt, was staring at me with amazement. Maybe I was too young at age to be in a government sitting. He however explained that some R&R saheb sent him in for an interview. I was not a recruiter since ever, so stated he is knocking wrong doors and must meet the 'concerned' executive. Just as I pretend to look at my newspaper, I find him standing his ground. Maybe he needed a job and was desperately finding a way-in through an insider. Just as I was about to rephrase my case, he grinned with some charm. I soon realized I was about to budge away my CSR success story.So I am a PR guy working for NTPC- A Maharatna PSU indulged in the business of generating electricity. Interestingly, NTPC with a large cap on CSR is currently finding ways to publicize it effectively. My job is to ensure that the good is highlighted, and what's better than finding good within four walls you stare each day, without any effort.Curtain-up...12 years back, Arvind was a common man in search of an ordinary job. Like many in that generation, he was dreaming money and heaps of it. Though family and relatives were keen on finding conventional ways to make is possible, he, more so than anyone, knew exactly what he needed to do ever since NTPC had declared to set up a plant at Barh. Barh: A town in Bihar situated 70 km from the capital Patna. As the old saying goes, 'It does not take long before fortunes turn'. So they did for Barh, once NTPC got it's back; and the same goes for Arvind.Back in 2009, Arvind came up with a business plan for transportation. In February, he bought his first vehicle and applied for Departmental transportation Tender at NTPC Barh Project. He who was a mere sapling in the industry with one vehicle in his stride, today claims ownership of 16; 11 of which serve NTPC Barh. Yes, fortune favored the brave as he procured tender the same year his business was born. Since then, there has been no looking back.For Arvind, an honest vendor known at Barh for his energy and prompt response to service issues, life was not easy back during years of graduation. All around him, there were peers pushing him to apply for dangling government jobs. His father too, like typical Indian parents, was inclined toward a stable, long term job...and adamantly against entrepreneurship of all sorts! He struggled to convince people, most importantly his family, to let him start the business he had been dreaming of since school days. More so, besides acceptance, some bootstrapping was needed like most entrepreneurial stints; and father like most guardians of the home made it a point to spend money only on errands. Any investment in trade for an Indian service class family is like a walk on ember. Thus it needed some Push marketing and a lot of convincing.To persuade the family, he began odd jobs to earn his initial investment soon after graduation. Though it would take long for the earnings to suffice, he struggled for months just to express solidarity to the cause. Biting the dust each day at roads, galleries, parks, repair shops, he'd return home at night all miserable but #ziddi. After months of adversity, the rigid but dutiful father, concerned about his educated son doing unskilled jobs all day, gave both his will and finances for reaping the long sown entrepreneurial dream. A gleaning white Mahindra Bolero was bought. Arvind would now take it to NTPC and drive it himself till he gains enough traction to hire drivers on his own.And then, Arvind took a vow. He'd not just earn his father's hard-earned money back, but scale his business to new heights. To his pleasure, it didn't take long for that to happen. In 2013, bypassing all the initial struggle, he earned the ownership of 5 vehicles to serve different departments in the Project. And just 3 years later, in 2016, he had it all: Own house, own land and the ownership of 16 vehicles in totality. The service has been smooth and consumers are satisfied- Just the ingredients of a successful business. And he means business, whenever his drivers (Yes, he has hired a handful) nap at peak hours.Arvind tells how having an elder brother helped him initially. He who was youngest in the family was guided by the carbon copy of his father. Arvind has 3 kids, all of whom are fond of their uncle. Interestingly, when the start-up idea erupted, he was against it more so than anyone. There were times when father would budge in but he would ensure that Arvind works hard before gaining acceptance. Later, he himself went on and played his part in convincing the entire family in favor of his sibling's dream.The turnaround has been gradual, but Arvind has lived happily ever since NTPC got his back. However, after all these years, he says there's so much more left to achieve. He dreams of starting a full fledged travel agency soon. Hence, an ordinary man with extraordinary determination, today sets example of an entrepreneurial miracle. CurtainsAs I put my pen down and grin back in appreciation, Arvind bows and prepares to leave. Stopping him in that moment barely deserved effort, as I had already taken enough time off his service. For all his anecdotes, I couldn't even offer a cup of tea.It was a great day, indeed. I realized how a dream can change the way one lives. I now see Arvind and ponder, what could've possibly happened had I opted to chase my dream girl ;)Abhishek.
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