Thursday, 27 June 2013

Reality Gives Projects...Lakshmi explains the English Language Support Program

Lakshmi with the students of the Royal City School in Dharavi doing an action song. The students are not used to it yet as it is their first week back in school.

Last week we blogged about the inauguration of the new English Language Support Program at the Royal City School in Dharavi. To make you understand the whole project a little bit better we have interviewed the ELS Program Manager Lakshmi Vishwanatham who has been with Reality Gives since three years. 

Why do you think is the community of Dharavi is in need of an English Language Support Program?

The community looks at English as a career defining path where their children will have access to job opportunities, not just on the domestic but also the global market. Parents of students at vernacular schools hope that their kids also get a chance to compete with students from English medium schools as they aren't able to afford the higher school fees.

Lakshmi chatting with a student.

Who runs the project?

The staff who conducts the program are from the community and exclusively trained in a child-centred learning approach of Muktangan. Their origin makes it easy for them to be in direct contact with the parents which gives them the opportunity to understand the children, ethos and culture of the community fully. 

What makes the program special?

Reality Gives does not just dole out the program mechanically. A lot of effort goes into connecting with the community. Also we give a significant important to the E.Q. (emotional quotient) rather than I.Q. Learning is child centred , group centred and joyful. 

What was the biggest achievement of the program since you started in 2010?

While supporting the grades 1, 2 and 3 at the Marathi medium school in Dharavi, the teachers conducted a project on animals and greenery. It showcased the talents of the children using the medium of active experimental learning in role plays, drama, action songs, group and individual activities. It was a treat to watch the children in their elements, totally confident and using English to communicate to the guests that have come for the presentation. 

Lakshmi and the teachers explain the action songs.

How will the future of the program look like?

A private but government recognised school has approached Reality Gives to bring improvement in the existing school system.  In the school year 2013/14 we will teach 240 students in pre-school and first grade. We are especially happy to be able to have an impact on the children in their most impressionable years of preschool. Every year we will add one more grade. We have the ambition to involve the new community into other community projects run by us and other organisations. 

Friday, 21 June 2013

Reality Tours and Travel News...Our intern Nieck

In today’s blog I would like to introduce myself to you. My name is Nieck Slikker, I’m a 26 year old student at Stenden University (city of Leeuwarden) in the Netherlands. As of the 8th of June, I am the new addition to the Reality team here in Mumbai, although it will be for a short period of 4 months. I am what they would call ‘the intern’. Other titles I carry are ‘Chief Coffee Distributor’, ‘Senior Executive of Interior Cleaning’ and ‘Head Greeter’.

I’m joking of course! The main task I have throughout these 4 months, is to conduct my research for my dissertation. After this I will be finishing up my thesis. In other words, this internship is my final placement which concludes my BBA and Tourism Management.

Within Reality Tours and Travel my responsibilities will mostly consist of assisting the management team (Adina, Stephanie and Asim) with their duties; the main focus being on marketing and product development. I’m very happy that Reality has granted me this opportunity and I am aiming to be of great added value to the organization. If you would like to read more about me or my experiences here in Mumbai throughout this period, feel free to check out
Best regards,


Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Reality Gives News...Our new English Language Support Program at Royal City School in Dharavi

We are very sorry that it has been silent on our blog for such a long time. As you might have read on our facebook page Summer, our Executive Director left Reality Gives due to unfortunate circumstances.  

But of course we would like to inform you also about some positive change within our organisation and certainly the biggest recently has been the ones for our English Language Support Program.

In the past three years ten female teachers from Dharavi and the program head Lakshmi have been working at the local municipal vernacular Kala Killa school to teach the first three grades in English language. We have used our child-centred approach according to the Muktangan teaching methods for around 500 students in three years. It was a great time but we always had trouble conducting our programa and specific projects due to the high-standard bureaucracy at municipal schools.

All teachers involved in the preschool and first standard program at the Royal City School.

Therefore we were very happy when the private but government recognised Royal City School in Dharavi approached us to teach at their school. A plan was made to create a synergetic team between teachers of Reality Gives  and Royal City School in order to renovate the educational methods for the pre-school and 1st standard at the school. Thirteen teachers - three new teachers joined the team after being trained by Muktangan in the past year - will mentor and support six existing teachers. The training started before the school began and will last till the end of the academic year. 

Mothers from Dharavi checking the timetable of the preschool at Royal City School.
In the subsequent years the vision is to move up the standards with the students. That can mean that by next year we might be able to reach out to even  more students in the second standard and by 2015 to the third standard and so on. 

But that's not all: besides teaching English the teachers will also take on more subjects such as Hindi, Marathi, maths, physical education and story-time. They will be teaching the junior and senior kindergarten and 1st standard in two shifts every day. All together there will be around 250 students in the first year. The school provided four big rooms which our teachers , Lakshmi and our new volunteer Cecilia could decorate and design according to the curriculum and their individual ideas. 
New and old teaching materials combined for the inauguration ceremony. 

Furthermore, parents involvement will be an important landmark: Reality Gives is willing to empower and impact the community by creating a significant relationship with the families. That’s why the project wants to involve the parents in the kids’ education path, creating a stronger awareness of the importance of learning. Also there will be many more additional projects we want to establish within this new community as our art program with Bombay Underground or a new waste management program conducted by a volunteer of Reality Gives. 

From left to right: Lakshmi (program head), Liz and Sunil from Muktangan and the reverend of the Royal City School. 
The school year 2013/14 started yesterday with a big inauguration ceremony at the school. We have invited Liz and Sunil from Muktangan to give them a on-site insight of the impact their great teachers training can provide. They were happy to meet parents and the new students as well as to meet again their freshly graduated teaching students Farin (19), Akali  (25) and Krishna (24). All three of them are very excited to finally get involved in the program.
The three freshly graduated teachers Krishna, Farin and Akali (from eft to right)
Lakshmi have a long speech where she thanked the reverend and managers of the Royal City School for their continuous and generous support in establishing the program at their school and of course also Muktangan for their great training since more than four years now. We are very happy to have found such great partners who are willing to support us in creating a change for our communities. 

Finally we would like to thank Lakshmi who worked on this opening throughout her whole vacation in May as well as Cecilia, our new volunteer who supported Lakshmi within the last two months. Great work and well done!

Next week we will share a reflection by Lakshmi, program head of the English Language Support Program about the implementation of the program, the work with the teachers and her insights of the community. Also we will share soon more about the training of the teachers from Dharavi - stay tuned!

Find more pictures on our facebook page.