Dear Doris and James:
I visited the centers today. Chahat had suffered bereavement in her family so that center was closed for the day. However, the rest were functioning. CfH has appointed Vandana to teach the older children and they have also appointed a new project manager- Vijay. The previous project manager had to leave because of family commitments. Vijay has joined just this month and is still learning the ropes.
The annual examination for the children has just got over so they were engaged in minimal learning. The results for some of the children has been declared and they seem to have done well. Couple of the children told us that they had come first or second in their respective grades and have been promoted to the next grade. One girl said that she had got 386 out of 500 marks. Shehla, who is a teacher with the center, told us that the schools have had instruction to tighten the system and not to indiscriminately promote every child to the next grade. Therefore, if this is true, then it would be possible to track each child's progress through school. We have to wait till the results are announced- the children told me that the results will be announced on March 31st. One thing I did notice is that the reading skill for some of the children has improved tremendously and they are able to read fluently.
The children are now ready for the summer break though it will not happen till mid-May when the heat becomes unbearable. The teachers will be given one week off and then the classes will shift to the morning session. The children have requested for story books and games. One of the girl wanted to read a biography if it was available in Hindi. Many of the children wanted books in English. The gender divide was amusing to note. The girls wanted fairy tales and the boys wanted horror and ghost stories.
The center in Sanjay Colony where Maneka is the teacher might have to be shifted out as the owner has told CfH that he might be selling it. The center in Bapu Colony where Shazia teaches had to be shifted to a new location as the previous place had developed huge cracks on the wall. When CfH requested the owner to repair it, they were asked to pay money upfront and deduct it from the rent. CfH decided to move out. The rental for the new place is Rs 1500/-.
The nutrition program has been implemented. One of the cookie companies in India has given them huge discount and are delivering cookies for the children. Of course it is not nutritious but the children want it. They also wanted other junk food like Potato chips but CfH shot it down. Instead they are provided peanuts and other roasted nuts- some of which being nutritious, the children do not appreciate too much. Each center maintains a register and when the food is handed out, they sign the register. This way they are able to keep track of the food material.
Three of the teachers also went for a teacher's training program last year. There is an organization called Jodo Gyan in Delhi that creates teaching material especially to teach mathematics. Some of the teachers have now started using these material to teach math. However, since the children in holiday mood I was not able to observe it. Maybe next time.
I also asked about the office space. It is in Rajpur, few kilometers away from all the centers. It is used now as office space for Vijay, for storing materials, and also a meeting place.
If you have any specific questions, please let me know. Otherwise, there seems to be no problem with the centers. Three of the girls have now finished school, hopefully. They have given the final exams and the results will be declared only in May as this is a nation-wide examination. We will know then.