DRISHTI

Drishti: Life Skills Programme through Teacher Educators in Rajasthan

Recognising the tremendous opportunity of leveraging schools as hubs for community development, Ritinjali introduced its Life Skills Programme for Students through Teachers in 3 intervention districts in Rajasthan: Kota, Jhalawar and Baran. The programme was conceptualized in 2005 and set off with a vision to help young people adapt progressive views and to acquire new knowledge and skills, and spread affirmative social messages to large audiences.

Ritinjali believes that teachers are critical to create conditions that are needed for responsible decisions. Therefore, it is important to reach accurate information to teachers and equip them with skills and attitudes to build the skills and empower young adolescents. The programme uses multi-pronged activities such as role-play/ simulation exercises, story-telling, creative exercises, games, case studies, inspirational stories, small group discussions and presentations, debates and brainstorming to build the life skills of teachers in Government schools while simultaneously preparing them to educate young people. The training design prepares the teachers to implement the curriculum in the classroom in an unbiased and nonjudgmental manner.

Context:

In Rajasthan, more than 85 percent of children between ages 5 and 12 years go to school, but the attendance drops quickly as children get older or move from primary to secondary school, especially among girls, the poor and the rural youth. Rajasthan has a high dropout rate from the primary to the secondary stage. Persistent regional poverty, low female literacy rate, high school drop-out rates, gender disparity, poor health indicators, and sexuality are controversial topics in most cultures across our country. Also, underlying concerns like young adolescents being denied education about their bodies and reproductive health emphasise the continued need to strengthen initiatives to improve education and health within the state of Rajasthan.

In a state like Rajasthan, young girls and boys are married when they are still children and as a result are denied fundamental human rights. Early marriage compromises girls’ development and often results in forced sex, early pregnancy and social isolation, with little education and poor vocational training reinforcing the gendered nature of poverty. In the given situation, young people are constrained in decision-making and face reduced life choices. Both boys and girls are affected by child marriage but the issue impacts girls in far larger numbers and with more intensity—it is wide ranging, apart from having a negative effect on families and communities. The practice thrives on poverty and adversely impacts a country’s health and education sector.

Programme Objectives:

• Capacity building of teachers including the DIET lecturers to impart Life skills education in government schools in the state of Rajasthan.

• Enhancing students’ knowledge, including knowledge of sexual issues and HIV/AIDS and addressing their attitudes, behavior and practice and their values towards Adolescent Reproductive and Sexual Health issues.

• Empower school going young adolescents (12 – 14 years) to make informed choices about their health and behavior through classroom sessions on Life Skills Education by trained teachers.

• To reach out to the parents and the community through the students and impact their quality of decision making.

• Advocacy with the administrative and education department at state level for including life skills in the pre-service curriculum for teacher training.

The Drishti curriculum is based on the approach that is sensitive to the perceptions of young people, acknowledges their potential to become confident, responsible and caring adults provides access to information, knowledge and skills needed for a healthy transition to adulthood and prepares them to creatively face a challenging future. Through an activity-based curriculum, Ritinjali makes life skills more experiential and therefore a part of the students’ lives, which in turn impacts not just their knowledge but also attitudes and in the long term will also help alter their behaviour and practice. In topics like decision-making, refusal strategies, conflict resolution etc. the focus is on skills development, which arms students with means of dealing with peer pressure, stress etc.

Impact:

The impact of Drishti over the years since its inception can be seen at different levels - in the personal and professional lives of teachers, in the lives of students especially in terms of higher confidence levels, motivation to continue higher education, delaying age at marriage, improved communication with teachers and parents, increased negotiation and persuasion skills to stand their own ground with peers and parents, increased ability to make informed decisions about their health and behaviour besides non-cognitive outcomes such as reduction in the drop-out rate, increase in retention rates, attendance and punctuality of teachers and students in the 3 intervention districts of Kota, Jhalawar and Baran in Rajasthan.