During his one-week visit in India, His Royal Highness, Prince Andrew, Duke of York came to see Dharavi, one of Asia’s biggest slums to learn about the benefits and challenges of industry in Dharavi, the issues related to vernacular medium schools in Mumbai, and how art programs are allowing children to explore themselves and their world in Dharavi.
The Royal Highness chose to visit Dharavi with Reality Tours and Travel to learn more about the strengths and issues of the slum community as well as to see the impact of the social programs run by Reality Gives. He started his tour in Kumbharwada, the potters’ village of Dharavi to learn about the living and working conditions of its residents. Krishna Pujari, one of the founders of Reality Tours and Travels showed him a typical residence in the densely populated slum. “It’s very clean and well-organized. I didn’t expect this.” the Prince was surprised. Co-founder Chris Way explained that the goal of the tours is to raise awareness about the complex socio-economic and educational issues in Dharavi.
At the end of the tour, the Prince was invited to experience the children’s art class run by Reality Gives in collaboration with Bombay Underground. The class is designed to help the kids express themselves and explore their world while building confidence.
At the classroom Summer Starr, the Executive Director of Reality Gives spoke with the royal guest about Reality Gives’ English Language Support Project for municipal schools. The initiative, started in 2011, trains women from Dharavi as English Language teachers in a program that reaches 240 students in the 1st and 2nd standards of a local municipal school. The program teaches English language using child-centric learning approaches. While English is a major economic language in India, Reality Gives believes that Indian mother tongues are the languages of the community. The aim is to strengthen local vernacular schools by creating a truly bilingual educational experience in a supportive environment.
The Royal Highness thoroughly enjoyed the visit and involvement in the educational activity: “It’s wonderful to see an organization giving back to the community.”
At the end of tour the guest is watching the kids art class and is discussing with Summer and Lakshmi the challenges of the English Language Program in vernacular schools.