Pranita Roy
Saturday, 16 February 2019

Students benefitting from club activities like electronics and arts run by volunteers

PUNE: Harshvardhan, a Std VIII student, can repair all electronic home appliances, a skill he got from the electronics club being conducted at his PMC-run school. “I can repair everything and anything related to electronics,” said Harshvardhan with a grin on his face. “At school, we recently developed a ‘voice-meter’ in our Electronics Club.”

The ‘Electronics Club’ is a part of ITech Ahilya Devi Holkar (ADH) School, Baner, a Pune Municipal Corporation-run school and is the gift of The Apprentice Project (TAP), an organisation formed in 2016. 

Founded by Monica Pesswani, Prashant Kumar and Anand Gopakumar, the organisation has taken up the challenge of introducing extra-curricular activities and skill-based learning at schools that do not have the money or resources to teach it to their students.

TAP has been working with around 1,600 students from 16 under-resourced government-run schools in Pune. 

Harshvardhan, who has benefitted from TAP’s Electronics Club, continues to explain how the voice-meter in his school works. 

“We observed that once the teacher is out of the class for even five minutes, the class starts making noise. With a voice-meter, a teacher is able to track the noise made in class through a meter installed in the classroom, staffroom or any other place on the school campus,” he said.

On identifying the noisy classroom, they can rush to control the ruckus, he explained. 

TAP focuses on students’ extra-curricular activities by bringing over 110 professionals willing to volunteer in training the students in electronics, coding, art, dance, drama and public speaking.

The voice-meter was developed when students were asked to identify issues in their school and find solutions. ADH students have also developed a design of ‘Dry and Wet Garbage Segregation’ using an electronic sensor which will segregate the garbage for their school.

Students of Rabindranath Tagore English Medium School have found a solution to the messy toilets, Class VII student Sahil Tupdhar explained. “Students don’t flush properly after using the toilet, leaving it dirty. To help the cleaners maintain cleanliness and hygiene, we designed a prototype of a sensor which will automatically flush the pot immediately after use. This will prevent the cleaners from being exposed to the disgusting sight,” said Tupdhar, a member of Electronics Club.

Members of Art Club in this Pune Cantonment Board (PCB)-run school recently painted the walls on the themed ‘gender equality’. 

Teachers Jigyasa Siddan and Diti Joshi said these clubs have helped build self-confidence in children. “Many students including specially-abled students participate in these clubs and the results are outstanding. Moreover, the students have started applying their theoretical learning into logical applications of day-to-day life,” said Siddan.

Joshi said, “We have seen changes in them, like one student who had a speech problem and dreaded speaking in public, opened up thanks to Public Speaking Club.”

Stuti Jain (23), an electrical engineer is one of the volunteers with TAP. She conducts Electronics Club for Rajashri Shahu Maharaj (RSM) Iteach School, Mundhwa. She said these students come from a low-income background, which drives their passion to make an impact. Students of Std IX and X of this school have developed gloves for the blind that sends signals via vibrations or alarms about any obstacle at the distance of 100 m.

- ADH’s Harshal Sonawane, Std IX student along with his teammates in Coding Club developed a game called ‘Good Education’. The game has simple calculations which one can solve playfully. There is a snake which will hit the balls that mentions numbers and while the snake hits each ball, it will indicate for addition and subtraction and help you aim at the right answer, he explained.
- Another student from the same school, Sagar Sahu of Std IX from Drama Club said realising the increasing problem of bullying at their school, the students of drama club prepared a street play, spreading awareness about consequences of bullying.

- We give children a chance to learn what they love like visual arts, performing arts, technical arts and sports and use that as a medium to build life skills like communication, creativity, confidence and critical thinking 
- The government schools lack resources to provide co-curricular activities. Here we play the role of resourcer. We try to expose them to life skills.
- Due to lack of funds, sometimes projects made by students are not endorsed well or used practically. 

Almost 75% of students who are part of TAP clubs are applying what they learn in classrooms and activity clubs, and 88 per cent have shown an increase in confidence in their daily life.

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