HHT Annual Meetup at Delhi

Excitement was in the air as we set forth to hold the Annual Meetup of Happy Horizons Trust in Delhi. The team in Delhi, was all charged up; for it was the first time that the teams from Bihar and Delhi would be meeting up! For the team in Bihar, this was designed to provide to them an exposure to the world outside Bihar. Many of the team members had not visited outside the state earlier.

 “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” – Theodore Roosevelt

It has been our constant endeavour to look towards the personal growth of every individual associated with the trust. The meetup was therefore also supposed to be a learning experience for every member. Everyone was required to share their experiences and challenges which they face while working in different fields of education in India and in Bihar in particular.

The meetup was held on the 11th December, 2016 at the HHT’s Delhi office. What an amazing day of learning, sharing stories and inspiration it was. Participation from members of the Happy Horizons Trust from different teams in Marketing, Design, Program, Finance made it interesting and engaging. The event was aimed at sharing stories, experiences and challenges in working in field of education which gave chance to every member to come forward.
The meet started with the welcome note, followed by the general introduction of everyone present at event.It was amazing to know of the diversity of the people present in the room. With the short speech about HHT and it’s activities, there were also brief success stories of HHT in Simri Bakhtiyarpur, Bihar with its different projects like LTV (Learning through Videos), Project Jagriti, Digital Literacy & Internet awareness Program etc.

The HHT Bihar team visiting included our Champions along with Project Manager Vinay Kumar and IT instructor Sonu Kumar. Champions Nigar, Jyoti, Komal and Neha were given chance one by one to share their experiences. While sharing her experiences, Nigar talked about how she use to take

 

While sharing her experiences, Nigar talked about how she use to take example of ganesh ji ne kitne laddu khae to make the procedure of addition and subtraction funny and engaging. Champions also thanked HHT for providing them a platform that helped them in self-evolution, confidence building and showing a way for better future.

Other champions Jyoti, Komal and Neha also shared inspiring stories on both professional and personal development. We also discussed things like the society’s bias towards the female child and the challenges we face. Champions also shared their moment of when they were challenged by the other stakeholders and how they got over the situation. In one case when there were issues of one champion changing her school to work and other confronting a situation of misconduct by other person.

During each session of sharing of these stories by the champions, advisors Rekha Yadav and Rashmi mam helped the champions on their journey and understanding the importance of their work.

The champions session were followed by a presentation on child psychology and importance of education by volunteer Pooja Kumari, which invoked a new enthusiasm in champions to enhance their skills, followed by a brainstorming interactive session.

Core team member Rakesh Ranjan, along with Rashmi and Rekha Yadav gave some suggestions to enhance the teaching skills, to provide quality education and fruitful environment to students at primary schools.

Also highlighted the importance of education at primary schools as foundational level. Members from Pratham Infotech shared thoughts on Digital Literacy and ways to enhance learning through videos. Our IT Instructor Sonu Kumar shared his experiences from the work in Bihar.

At concluding session, HHT Managing Trustee Kshitiz Anand narrated about the foundation story of HHT as an organization. The journey started with an the idea of enhancing quality of education in rural areas in 2008 to finally giving it a shape of an organization in 2012 with his wife and President of HHT Vatsala Vikram.

Initially, the program started in Simri Bakhtiyarpur in Bihar, then taking lead in Bangalore widen the program. Although the aims were high but there were many criticisms from people around. But hurdles at path made the intention even stronger to make a difference in the society. He also described the education chart of India where about 70% of the population lives in villages in India, despite being high at population, is very low at education chart. And to overcome that situation and increase the education rate in India, we need to work on the quality of education provided at primary level. Although this dream seems hard to achieve but education is the only key for a better future and a better nation, and that’s what we at HHT through our event aim at.

The event concluded with lots of content on work being done, and a larger shared dream of working harder for the cause we all passionately believe in.

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– Post by Puja Raj with contributions from Ritu Singh, Pooja Kumari, Deeptanshu Pandey 

Champions training at HHT

In India, we face a lot of problems with the quality of education. In the course of our work, we have observed that many times the teachers are not adept or motivated to engage with the children. Even though this is perhaps the most critical of tasks that a teacher has, the teaching quality and as a result, the learning experience falls short.

In such circumstances, there are people who  often act as the bridge between the teachers and the students. Some call it tutors, some call it mentors.  In our work too, we realise that to motivate the primary school students towards education, such people are required. We call them as CHAMPIONS.

For us these champions are the one who ease out the complications of classroom, bookish world (which we all hate as a kid) and make the process of learning fun and engaging. Champions, unlike others, don’t just bring the change, but be the change. They get involved in adopting and implementing everything they learn and bring it forth for benefit of others. The intent of the program is also that gradually these champions turn out to be a leader and join the schools as a teacher.

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However, no one is born champion but over training and engagement, we can turn them into one. What is actually needed is a therefore chance, a chance to discover their potential and to sharpen their skills.

“Untapped Potential is the difference between where a person is now and where he or she can be.” – Bo Bennett

We at the Happy Horizons Trust, take a lot of pride in our champions and their journey to empowerment. But many questions arise, when it comes to these champions. ‘Which champions are talking about?’, ‘Who all are they?’, ‘Why do they need training?’, ‘How do we select the champions?’, ‘What kind of training would they be provided ?’ and finally ‘How the training would be helpful for champions?‘, so that they can inspire the young children.

So, one of the initiatives of the Happy Horizons Trust, is to provide training to young high school students and graduates, to become champions and empower them towards becoming a leader. Champions training is essential to motivate the youth girls towards the society and engage themselves in activities that will result in the improvement of quality of education in schools. Under this, every year, we shortlist a few girl candidates from Girls High School based on a very stringent qualifying process of 6 rounds that comprise of  i.Reading ability, ii.Writing skills, iii.Extempore Public speaking, iv.Group Discussion, v.Personal interview and vi.Parent’s interview.

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We are very particular that we include only girl candidates for these champions training. As a result it is really important that we include the parent’s interview as a part of this process.   The situation of the girl children in rural area, in states like Bihar, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh etc is not unknown. Soon after the completion of secondary school or high school, parents want to marry off their daughters. This consistent practice of keeping the girl child out of consideration of having a career is something sown deep down in rural society. But until and unless one tries to uproot it, every girl might face the same fortune. Hence our emphasis on choosing girls from high school. The girls then have to qualify all other steps and also whose parents can understand the importance of education and let her daughter be one of the champion, rather than marrying her off early. After selection they go through training sessions to become better equipped for the schools.

Rukmini Devi Scholarship
But this is not as easy as it seems. Parents feel hard to let go their daughter outside to learn and get associated with any organisation. We introduced the Rukmini Devi Scholarship as an award with a financial incentive spread over 3 years. A financial support, if comes from Girl in the house, make a huge difference and change the mind set of people . Once selected, champions get this scholarship of ₹5000 per year and are given training on conducting activities, mentoring , guidance, English lessons, digital literacy by the senior champions and other members of the trust, and other professionals.

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Post their training, the champions selected under the Rukmini Devi Scholarship are allocated schools to work in. During this, they are required to spend 2 hours a week in their respective schools where they aim to allow the students to understand the different aspects of education, resulting in increased motivation amongst children.

Training Process
During the initial year of training, we engage them in conducting activities in primary schools such as Book reading session, story-telling session, art and craft activity, general knowledge etc. Gradually, with experience, during 2nd year, champions maintain logs, mentor Junior champions, they have given digital literacy by senior volunteers, they give talk across villages about environment cleanliness, hygiene maintenance and how these petty actions lead a child’s health toward education,also about the importance of education and discuss government schemes regarding education, so that parents feel equally motivated to educate their children.

In the final year of training, inclusive of all earlier activities, our champions organize and manage events of organization, with the digital literacy provided to them, they update about their work and project reporting on internet.

By the end of 3 year training, champions get confident enough to talk in front of people and lead them; they get skilled in teaching while making it fun and engaging; their skills get even shaprer. We carve out a leader out of those champion and empower them. With the rewarded certificate of completion, these training can further help them in life to be self-dependent and have a career in schools as junior teachers. Responses we get from children about the sessions conducted by the champions are full of energy and enjoyment. This 3 year training brings alot more confidence and spontaneity in champions which earlier was unavailable and inaccessible for them.Thus, our goal of providing quality of education does not remain limited to children, but it also help in the upliftment of the champions who get involved.

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As a new envisage, we are looking forward to select young married girls for champions training, so that those who, despite having qualities and aspirations, didn’t get opportunity, can come forward take a lead and bring a change in societal mind-set. Although it would not be as easy as in words, but every journey starts with a dilemma and challenge which later can be set as a good example. For now, our existing champions are a new face of change in society in Bihar. And they further need more opportunities to enhance their skills.

To give them a better exposure, Happy Horizons Trust team of Delhi works to arrange for exposure trips to Delhi. The last one was held during 9th to 13th December 2016.  This get-together was focussed on motivating our Champions and provide them with new skills, so that when they go back, they can implement what they learned from these sessions.

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With inputs from Puja Raj, Content writer at HHT

Learning Through Videos 2016

Learning has always been into frame, though the medium differed with innovations and technology. To enhance the effectiveness and usability of knowledge, new and alternative ways have been adopted now and then. In early 1940s, it was print media and radio. Now, with latest technologies and explorations, Learning through Videos has been brought up as one of the prominent pedagogical method.

Among different projects of Happy Horizons Trust, Learning through Videos has been the most successful and outreaching project. But the question is, “Why are we doing it?”, “How learning through videos would help children?”, Or “How is it beneficial in education?”. Answer to this lies in the very motto of our organization, i.e., to improve the quality of education.

Visual media or video has a greater and wider impact than printed books. Sight and sound of videos stimulates our sensory motor and captures quick attention. Unlike any other method of learning, Learning through videos keeps maintaining interests of students for longer period of time, rather than getting distracted. Videos related to educational fields like science, history, geography, mathematics, etc. or films related  to children, social, cultural and moral issues are been screened to simplify the complicated mechanism or ideas.

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With development in technology, Learning through videos provide the flexibility to stop, start and rewind the video, so that the part which has been missed for any reason whatsoever or not properly understood, can be replayed and watched from the same section. Also, pausing the video for pointing something important or briefing some related ideas helps in clicking reasoning of students. The child needs to get engaged in and enjoy what they are studying and learning to pique their interest. Watching a film, undoubtedly, is something that every child enjoys.

In May 2015, we, at Bihar branch of Happy Horizons Trust, started the project of “Learning through Videos” in collaboration with Children’s Film Society of India, Mumbai. During our 4 month session of this project, we outreached to over 25000 students. Projecting the films that are aimed at cultural sensitization, knowing about different cultures of the world, storytelling and building in students a sense of inquisitiveness towards how to do things. To encourage more public participation, screening were done either in classrooms or at public spaces.

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Anew, without any collaboration, this year we started this project of Learning through Videos in October to drive students motivation, knowledge and curiosity. With the help of laptop, projector and few volunteers, targeting 1600 students a week, we are doing this through school wise and community wise screening of the videos. Project will continue in different schools of selected districts of Bihar till December 2016. But just projecting videos or films is not what’s been aimed for. As a follow up of these screenings, we open discussions on the ideas and morals of the video to bring the student’s participation.

Truly said by Seth Gordin, “Learning is not watching a video, Learning is taking action and seeing what happens.”  As video learning triggers the long-term memory, it helps in explaining complex concepts and ideas in easier terms, and improves overall learning experience. Providing a means of interactive instruction, learning through videos helps in critical thinking of children furthering the Quality of Education. And that’s what we aspire for.

 

Call for Volunteers at HHT

We all have some or other skills. Some people are good with technical skills, some are good at field work whereas some are skilled in organising everything. We process and enhance our skill in our particular expertise, work for money, for our own good and stay happy living in our own little world. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

But, some step out of their personal confined world, to aid the people in need, to help those who are not as privileged as we are, to not just sympathize but to reach out with their helping hands, to work for the benefit of others, not for money or kind but out of love, respect and self-satisfaction. We simply call them VOLUNTEERS.

Working and earning for one’s benefit and pleasure is usual. Whereas doing things for oneself while working for the benefit of others require a real dedication and altruistic feeling which is commendable. Volunteer’s work is impactful to other people’s lives as they meet and get engaged in helping people around. Volunteers, individually or in group, sharing similar vision and purpose to work, come forward to get associated with an organization and help the people in need for an overall development of society.

There are countless number of non-profit organisations working dedicatedly for a particular social cause. We, at Happy Horizons Trust, work with the vision to improve the quality of education in schools across India and bridge the gap between students, teachers and parents. Running an organisation is not a solo task, rather it requires a good volunteer base to keep it moving with its work. And believe it, a small contribution by each and every volunteer can make a project successful, and your part will be counted upon. We welcome anyone who wishes to join us in our mission sharing our vision.

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Being a volunteer is an Odyssey- a long journey full of adventures. As everyone is in learning process, volunteering can help in acquiring new skills in terrain of new people while building self-confidence as one of the strongest traits of your personality. Coming together as volunteers, you don’t need any specific skill or expertise to help. What Volunteering need is commitment as per your capacity, convenience and skills. But inevitably,we are aiming to improve the quality of education through participatory learning and alternative methods with our ongoing projects, we require one who can help in:-

  • Training and mentoring our existing volunteers.
  • Develop teaching ways or alternate activities to enhance the classroom environment.
  • Create Social Awareness Posters
  • Introduce new career options to the students through Career Awareness Seminars.
  • Working with schools and motivate children.
  • Coming up with any new idea to enhance the way of learning.
  • Any other way you want to contribute!

Volunteer with us!

So, poke the curiosity inside you, ask yourself,
“Can you be more worthy than you are?”
“Can you work for goodness of others and societal development?”
“Can you make a difference?”

If yes, then this is the time. Come and join us.
Reach out to us!

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Post by Volunteer, Puja Raj

Education for Development

Education, being the vital key for the development, is the act or process of imparting knowledge or skills to another, which is also the locus of Happy Horizons Trust. Education is the act of learning things around us which improves our knowledge, skill, confidence level and personality. It empowers us intellectually to interact with other in our life. Education brings maturity and teaches us to live in society with changing environment and also helps in social development, economic growth and technological development.

But Education is usually mistaken with Literacy or learning in schools, wherein Education is not just confined to books, copy, pen or schools and colleges. Literacy is about acquiring the ability to read and write, learning skills in school or college ; while Education is about the application of these skills and learning for the benefit of other people, society and country.

Inevitably, books, school or college can make a person literate but not relatively educated. Education is not merely factual knowledge related to curriculum , but extra-curricular skills and knowledge, moral and ethical values are also considered under Education which further helps one in overall development of their personality. Education far outstrips the concept of Literacy.

Albert Einstein said:- “It is not so very important for a person to learn facts. For that he does not really need college. He can learn them from books. The value of an Education in a liberal art college is not the learning of many facts,but the training of the mind to think something that cannot be learned from textbooks.”

There are several living examples like Albert Einstein, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Sachin Tendulkar and many more who dropped out school or college but still achieved the height of their goals with the Education they have been provided. Education is not only to read or write but is the ability to think in broader terms and analyse the things rationally.

Education brings Development with itself. Because an educated mind brings change in society by helping others to be educated beyond the limits of books. Education and Educated people diversify the knowledge for the good and development of all. Though Education usually requires Literacy, but not restricted to it.

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People living in the backward areas are not getting proper means of education but still government provide them with Literacy. But this lack of Education remains the major reason behind their backwardness. Education not only allows us to open our minds to improve ourselves to make better choice about our future, but also diminishes the believe in myths, superstitions, gender prejudice, caste system and many more bizarre beliefs.

Through the small platform of HHT, we are reaching out to encourage underprivileged children as well as parents for Quality  Education beyond books and also to make learning fun and engaging . The child needs to enjoy what they are studying to pique their interest. With advancement of Digital World and Technology, HHT is trying to empower the youth with the understanding of technology and it’s usages which help them to be capable enough to access computer or any technical device. Though Literacy help in acquiring the basic skills of reading and writing anything around, but may also lead to use abusive and fowl language,  but Education can never. Education has an intrinsic value. It is truly said  that Literacy cannot make a person wise but education makes a person wiser and provides with the understanding of distinguishing between right and wrong.

To enrich and summarise this article, few lines by Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit can be quoted as:- ” Education is not merely a means for earning a living or an instrument for the acquisition of wealth. It is an initiation into life of spirit,a training of human soul in pursuit of truth and the practice of virtue.”


Puja Raj
Content Writing Volunteer, HHT

Making education engaging and fun II

Remember the days when all students learned the same thing in the same way? These days’ educational innovations are set where you must teach to each individual learning style, and create differentiated learning plans for each student.

For times like when you just can’t make a lesson fun, follow-up the lesson with some fun activity. These activities which includes art and craft sessions, storytelling, fun games etc., allow the students to build self-confidence, and get better at presenting themselves, engage with an audience and improve on their motor skills. Art and Craft sessions are integral to our endeavor to improve the quality of education.

As our nation is full with festive seasons, we at Happy Horizons trust are trying to make every festival a fun activity based learning process. These process involves giving knowledge about the festivals through story telling workshop followed by some activities related to the festival. Apart from several sessions we conducted, we hosted two major festive events in Bihar this month.

Cap Making workshop and stories of independence as a part of Independence Day Celebration and Rakhi making workshop held at Saharsa district as a part of Raksha Bandhan festival were the two small step taken to build up, the skills and knowledge among students. These workshops help the students to build knowledge about the festivals, enhance their creative skills, leadership quality and their motor skills.

In storytelling session for Independence Day, champions explained the students how our leaders came up for the freedom of India and why 15th August is so important for us. In Cap making session students used white thin sheet for making Nehru cap which they painted in saffron, white and green color. These students wearing Nehru cap painted with the colors of Indian flag are the future of India. They need to be educated in the right direction for the betterment of society and as nation whole.

Raksha Bandhan is a bond of love between brother and sister. On this occasion we conducted a storytelling session and a workshop which were monitored by champions.  They used silk thread for making Rakhi, as it is considered best in Raksha Bandhan festival traditionally. For decorating Rakhi they used small glittery jewelries. Our Champions were monitoring and helping them. Craft activities helps the students to enhance their motor skills and they all enjoyed it.

The workshops act as a training for our champions and a learning for the children as well. As a part of this endeavor to make education more interesting and fun, we at the Happy Horizons Trust are constantly looking for different ways of engagement with the children. These activities allow us to bring smiles to children and have a long-lasting impression on them, for something that they will cherish forever.

Earlier, we had written about “Making education engaging and fun,” in which we gave emphasis on children faster learning and entertaining mediums like cartoons, visuals or videos in comparison to text or theory. Later, with some more observation about children’s interests and psychology through organizing sessions of creative activities, we come up with Making Education Engaging and Fun II.

Annual Report 2014-2015

It has been quite some time that we had released the last Annual Report for the FY 2014-2015. But many say that they have not seen it. So we present it here again for those who may missed have seeing this.

The last year was special for us, as we grew our team. More people who believed in our vision joined us and got associated in different capacity. We started our office in Delhi as well. The projects in Bihar started to bear fruit, as our alumni of the programs got recruited as teachers.

Once again, we would like to thank everyone who has helped, contributed in whatever manner. It is with your wishes and blessings that we continue to move forward and attempt to improve the quality of education in the schools.

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Happy Horizons Trust Annual Report (2014-2015) from Kshitiz Anand

 

Making education engaging and fun

Everyday, we talk about education, and get to read about data collected through different researchers. Some talk about the past and some give a better understanding of the present. We discuss on how can we contribute to uplift the grim situation in education in different ways.

We do not talk frequently about the smart and unique ways that can attract students/children in schools to have interest and willing to focus on their syllabus. Learning in schools through memorising the text are currently seen as boring. It is important that we address this issue to make learning more fun, engaging and entertaining for the students. As an analogy, if food can become tastier by adding spices, then perhaps we can look at spicing up the ways of learning as well. This will make it awesome and interesting.

Through this post, let us look at the some of the activities that we are doing at the Happy Horizons Trust, to bring in this interestingness in the schools since the past few years.

As a part of this initiative, first of all we initiated storytelling session in our series of activities with the schools. Through the numerous story-telling sessions we have conducted, we have observed that these sessions allow the students to build self confidence, and get better at presenting themselves, engage with an audience and improve on their communication.

We later introduced some art and craft activities to the children through our sessions as we believe that children need to be learning through making things and not just through memorising through books. For example, the students were taught how to make Christmas trees, when the festival of Christmas was near. Things like origami, sessions on creating artifacts from waste materials are a wonderful method of engaging children further.

We further initiated the “Learning through Videos” project, in collaboration with the Children’s Film Society, India (CFSI) in the month of May 2015. The project aims to educate children by showing videos/films picturised on children itself. These videos provide practical and social knowledge of life. We feel fortunate to get this project in our hands as it brought smiles to many little ones. Those who have never seen good movies like these that too on projector screen before this, as most of our screenings are done in government schools of rural areas.

As a part of this endeavour to make education more interesting and fun, we at the Happy Horizons Trust are constantly looking for different ways of engagement with the children. There is nothing more satisfying than the sheer joy on the faces of children when they experience our participatory methods of learning.

Learning through Videos Project

We have embarked on a very exciting journey. As proponents of alternative learning, we strongly believe in the power of learning through activities and one of the projects that we have initiated is Learning Through Videos’. This project is being done in collaboration with Children’s Film Society, India (Mumbai) . As a part of the project, 100 screenings of different films are to happen at around 20 schools in 6 districts in Bihar. These districts are Saharsa, Supaul, Madhepura, Purnea, Katihar, Khagaria.

This is a very important landmark in the history of Happy Horizons Trust, for 2 reasons. Firstly it allows us to collaborate with the institutional body like Government of India (through the CFSI) and secondly it also expands our presence, connections to other districts in Bihar.

The project inauguration happened on the 22nd of May in Simri Bakhtiarpur, Saharsa . The guest of honor were the Block Education Officer, Shri Vinay Kr Jha, Vice-Chairman of Saharsa Jila Parishad Shri Ritesh Ranjan and Shri Mahendra Narayan Prasad, veteran teacher.

The following films (produced by CFSI) are being screened as a part of this project:

  1. Lukka Chhupi
  2. Chutkan ki Mahabharat
  3. Gilli Gilli Atta
  4. Bapu ne Kaha Thha
  5. Kabhi Pass Kabhi Fail
  6. Bal Ramayan
  7. Dost Magarmachch
  8. Ankur, Maina aur Kabutar

For many of the schools, this is the first time ever that they are screening something using the Visual media for their students.  The joy on the faces of students when they get to know about the project, the curiosity of the students when they are watching the films and then happiness at the end of the screenings are so wonderful to watch.

Inauguration of Computer Center

It was a landmark moment for us as the last month, we inaugurated a computer centre that will serve as the home to the Digital Literacy and Internet Awareness Course. The guest of honour was the Sub divisional Officer Shri S K Shah and Shri Mahendra Narayan Prasad.  This would allow us to also launch multiple new programs and raising the digital literacy level in the area.

The beneficiaries of this centre would not only be school students, but also farmers and other citizens. Agriculture being a primary source of livelihood in the area, we feel it is important that the farmers are made aware about the recent advancements in agriculture and farming methods. Through videos and animations, through guest lectures, we hope that the citizens use this center to their benefit.

Another major beneficiary could also be teachers, who may want to find more about learning methods, new pedagogy styles and gain access to content that they can then use in their teaching.

The current setup has 5 systems and the hope is that we will be adding more systems by the end of the year.

The setup will also function as the centre for Champions training and imparting lessons on how to conduct the sessions.