SOS Children’s Villages of India Creates Outdoor Learning Spaces for Children in Faridabad

Faridabad – SOS Children’s Villages of India, India’s largest self-implementing child-care NGO, created child-friendly outdoor learning spaces for children from underserved communities in Faridabad to support continuity of education, and enhance awareness on health and hygiene.

 

Nationwide closure of schools had disrupted the education of children. With the intent of encouraging the continuity of education, the organisation painted five walls of the Shivaji Nagar slum in Faridabad, with information related to Child Protection, Education, Health and Hygiene. One of the walls was, in fact, turned into a blackboard, to encourage consistent learning at the community level, while schools were shut. This was an initiative under the Family Strengthening Programme Shivaji Nagar-Auto Pin.

 

Shivaji Nagar is a slum settlement in Faridabad. The population consists of migrant labourers from nearby states. The location is home to a population of approximately 10,000-12,000 individuals. The families are engaged in low-paying jobs in nearby factories or are dependent on daily minimal earnings.

Life in slums is challenging because of the lack of basic facilities such as water, toilets and fresh air. Most houses have just one room with no ventilation, but serve as home for families with 5-10 members. Families cook, eat and sleep in one room. These resource and infrastructure constraints adversely impact the holistic development of children growing up in slums.

 

In his comments, Mr Sumanta Kar, Secretary General, SOS Children’s Villages of India, said, “Children, especially those living in slums, have seen their education being majorly disrupted by the pandemic, especially since they did not have access to the internet and/or smart phones to continue their schooling remotely. A significant number of children, especially girls, from vulnerable settings, who have been out of school for long, may never return when schools reopen. This initiative helped reiterate important aspects such as health, hygiene, education et cetera. We wanted to provide children with some semblance of learning, even when they were not attending schools.”

 

“The closing of schools due to the pandemic has caused major disruptions in our lives, leaving us confined within our homes and little outdoor time. The lack of social exposure was affecting our interactive skills. The learning walls of our locality have helped us a lot. We all like coming to the space since the walls were painted which has allowed us to learn, play and engage. It has helped us make new friends, enhancing our interactive skills. These paintings have bought liveliness to the usual dull walls of our locality, giving us a comforting and hopeful feeling in such trying times, while spreading important messages,” says Reena*, member, Bal Panchayat.

 

Physical environment plays an important role in creating an enabling space for children. The pandemic was tough on everyone but children suffered even more.

*Name has been changed to maintain privacy

 

Lockdowns confined children to the four walls of their homes. It took away the only learning and engagement time that they had with their peers in schools. Reports suggest that the prolonged confinement of children in their homes affects the overall well-being of children and can hamper their growth. With the current scenario, there’s a high risk of increase in the number of drop-outs among school going children.

 

The initiative by SOS Children’s Villages of India is aimed at generating discussion around important topics such as education, health and child protection, affecting the community. Today, the community blackboard is being used for various awareness programmes and remedial classes functioning in the community. It has also become a space for the Bal Panchayat (children’s parliament) for their day-to-day activities.

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