Armaan ClubApril 24th, 2023
In 1999 the artisans were talking about their children. Their highest priority had always been to see their daughters and sons stay in school and succeed in life. Financial security was allowing them to talk about their hopes and think about what needed to be done to fulfill the goals they had for their children. These conversations led to the organization of the Armaan Club, a program that provides academic support and life skills training to the children of the artisans.
The women work with the social workers to shape the program to answer the needs of the students. One representative from each Cooperative is an Armaan Club Leader, representing all the mothers. They are responsible for collecting test and exam data from the students, coordinating schedules, identifying children who may need extra help, and having regular meetings with the other Leaders to evaluate the direction and activities the Club should organize.
They schedule monthly meetings with all the parents so that everyone stays informed and in touch. The Leaders plan the meeting content, activities, listen to feedback and liaison with the social worker about the parents' concerns. This is a challenging but rewarding position, and the Armaan Club Leaders develop excellent leadership skills in the process.
The primary focus of the Club is on education, helping the children do well in school. The Indian system is modeled after the British structure, with 2 term exams and one final exam every year. At the end of each year a student receives either a pass or a fail. Thus, it is crucial that the students do well on tests, which involves practice and tutoring. The municipal schools that these children attend consist of over 50 children to a classroom, so there is little hope of extra help there.
While academic help is crucial, Armaan Club also includes a variety of other areas designed to support the children's development and achievement. These subjects include vocational guidance, life skills training, gender sensitization, and conflict resolution, all of which are designed to help the children deal with the pressures and demands of their lives. There are also picnics, celebrations, competitions, crafts sessions, computer activities, camps and other learning through fun activities. The children are encouraged to learn, grow, and mature into well-rounded people.
There are now 124 students in Armaan Club, 68 boys and 56 girls. Home visits by the social worker provide overall supervision and evaluation. The social worker is able to meet the parents and understand the child's home environment. They can assess the student's school progress and discuss whether additional measure are needed. On average 30 to 40 home visits are conducted every month, and some students are visited 2 or 3 times a month.
This method ensures that no child slips through the cracks. "Most parents we work with do not feel comfortable visiting the school or the teacher. They only go if called by the school," notes Suvarna, who heads this program. Thus home visits fulfill a crucial role in informing and involving the parents. However, Suvarna also has used this opportunity to encourage the parents to connect with the school. "Over the years I have seen the difference it makes to both the child and the teachers when parent visits the schools regularly."
The Armaan Club requires a lot of work by a lot of people. Each child is important and receives attention based on needs and abilities. Parents, educators and social workers collaborate to produce a program that is targeted, responsive and multi-faceted. While it is not the only sign of success, we can announce that in 2022 every child successfully completed his or her grade! 16 completed Grade 10 and 11 passed Grade 12, graduating from high school! With the help of Armaan Club they are well prepared to conquer the future.