Why I am writing this is because of an overwhelming respect for Nasira Habib who is the founder and director of Khoj – Society for People’s Education. She started with teaching women of the urban poor to read and write which later included out of school children in the same location. The efforts however, did not end there, a village 75 kilometers away from the city was the next target site to explore. The locale was rough, only mud roads which made travelling a formidable task and crime rate that was unprecedented, although daunting the challenge was taken head on. Eighteen years down the road parents keep bringing their children for enrollment, including dropouts.
I think I am fortunate to see the change (pictures of yore) and now. There have been several occasions for me to visit the village and the school, interact with the children from ECE to older students of grade six and above, the tenacity and resolve to make this innovative approach to teaching is truly amazing. Because of the interesting approach to teaching which is unique. Learning through doing is an exercise the children of the school have mastered.
Living in urban areas we can only think of getting whatever is needed from the market however this is not the case in this remote village of Thathi Bhanguaan, which lacks the luxury of buying anything off the shelf. The villagers very much look after their needs in traditional ways or make arrangements with whatever material is available to them. Thus the school has been a great boon to these community children, they have learnt ways and approaches to innovate and create.
As part of the science project experiments are hands –on activity. It was fascinating, when the students of grade seven and above were asked about different sources of energy and how they relate to this energy, that which is available in nature and that which can be created through the use of indigenous material. They were quick to respond, no girl wanted to be left out of this session.
Witnessing the building of a home heater that could be used for both purposes, such as warming a room or cooking was indeed interesting. Students got ready to conduct the experiment collecting raw material and things that would be used. Everyone was eager to contribute their small effort and rushed around enthusiastically.
Material that was used was easy to obtain which was an earthen pot, a clay plate with grooves, cables and coils. Samra and Irfan took up the task of putting the different parts together. Rubab brought dry sand in a pot that would be used as an insulator, while others watched. All this was deftly put together by Irfan. Inserting the coil seemed to be a very intricate task and finally screwing it down on the clay plate. Questions were raised and answered about conduction, good and bad conductors, why was insulation required. And the teaching about electricity, circuits and electric current, fuse and static electricity was built on their knowledge they already had.