Since its inception, PIDT has made child education, with an emphasis on the girl child, central to our work with marginalized communities. We are happy to say that in spite of the initial mistrust and resistance faced, education has become very much a part of the consumption basket of these communities. The people are now contributing towards continuance of child education and opening neighbourhood schools even after Government withdrawal.

Those who did not prioritise education are now willing to pay for their children’s education.

Anandalaya, or “home of joy,” was started with fees paid by the guardians of the pupils.

Anandalaya is a co-educational English medium Senior Secondary school. It seeks to bring up the child in harmony with nature and to integrate positive social values with intellectual growth. As in all our education programs, emphasis is given on issues such as health, environment, and gender awareness by using textbooks we have produced for value integration and cultural relevance. The school has about six hundred children who come from neighbouring villages. Most come from families that are under the poverty line and they are mainly first generation learners. A moderate fee is levied for the bus service and school materials and a limited residential section has been started. The first batch of graduating students that gave their exams in 2005 performed remarkably well, with 75% students securing first division. Associated with the school, PIDT has started a vocational training centre and a music and dance school to strengthen the economic and cultural dimensions of the education provided.

Understanding Change as a Process of Acculturation
For twelve years PIDT was the implementing partner of the government’s Non-Formal Education program in our field areas, bringing 100,000 children up through primary level education and preparing them to enter formal schools. PIDT’s experience running these schools led us to analyze the acculturation process of children, often first-time learners in their families, as they were initially exposed to education, to identify pedagogical characteristics that foster healthy socialization and acculturation to the new environment among rural children.

Sanjoy was a serious sincere boy. He was getting particularly confused between the numbers 6 and 9. The teacher, for a moment, lost his patience and scolded Sanjoy severely, on which the boy burst into tears. On changing the mode of teaching through stones and twigs, the little boy overcame his insult and grief and managed to learn it very quickly.

Young children in general, and rural children in particular, are sensory learners. Integrating tactile and visual methods that engage interactively with the environment, develops the cognitive skills needed for later learning.

Sahida, a ten-year-old, was called to the blackboard to read out her letters. On seeing this, her five-year-old sister, who was roaming outside the class, came running to stand next to her, trying to follow her in doing the same.

Many village children live in large or even extended family structures and draw considerable support from their siblings. Rather than separating brothers and sisters by age group, if they are allowed to remain together, elder siblings can provide valuable support and model learning to the younger ones.

Drawing on these findings, PIDT is currently conducting further research to create a child development tool for use by caretakers and educators that integrates local child rearing practices and customs.

MDG #2. Achieve universal primary education Back