This week children across India don their satchels (often larger than they themselves are), polish their shoes until they can see their faces in them and begin the new school year with a sense of nerves, anticipation and, hopefully, excitement. What many of these children won’t realise is that their teachers are feeling much the same.
The 15 teachers Reality Gives supports at Royal City School (RCS), Dharavi, are no different. Trained in the muktangan method (a model of education which provides quality, child-centred and inclusive English-medium schooling) these women cover junior and senior kindergarten, standard one and for the first time this year standard two. We sat down with Krishna Vaishy, 27, a first standard teacher at RCS, who got married in the summer holidays to discuss her feelings on returning to RCS for her second year.
Krishna’s story is an interesting one. Having previously lived close by to the school in Sion, she has now moved to be with her husband and his extended family, which she approximates numbers around 26 people. What’s more, the family are located in Dombivli, way up on the north eastern outskirts of Mumbai, a five hour daily commute.
Waking at 4am daily, Krishna prepares breakfast and lunch for her new family members and doing other housework. She leaves for school at 7am and does not arrive home again until 8:30 in the evening. In spite of this long day, she sees herself as lucky, family are contemporary “… they help with the housework because they care about my career. They know my job is important”.
Krishna shared with us that “I get tired but it has become a habit so I manage. I only want to work at RCS because I am learning so much from Laxmi and my English is improving. I work here because I like it – we learn so many thing – how to handle the children how to be with them. It’s good for my development and the children enjoy it. I like this method. I like this method because we understand the value of behaviour as well.”
“I like working with the children” Krishna continues “and to give new information and quality education. It is very important because so many poor children do not get it. Our children are learning through experience. When they learn rote they remember nothing. In other schools there is rote learning. Our children are exploring. We want them to be able to remember and to teach to others”.
“I am really excited about the children coming back. I want to teach them so many things. Language, maths, all the subjects and behaviour. I love circle time. We discuss all the childrens’ issues and current affairs in the community. We talk about how react to these things and behave and then we play so many games that teach discipline”.
Reflecting on her life, Krishna shared “I would like to continue my career in education. My dream was to become a teacher. Now it is completed. It is a reality. I am proud to have the opportunity to teach the children. I don’t have a high level of education but I got this training and opportunity. When I was a child I never got this method of learning. I am proud to give it to children so they can learn nicely and remember forever”.
With teachers like this, the children returning to Royal City School certainly have cause to look forward to a great year ahead.