Case study: Tamarind Tree school, Dahanu

The Tamarind Tree School was initiated in June 2010. It is located in Sogve, a tribal settlement of Dahanu in Maharashtra, Western India. Children come to the school mainly from the hamlets of Sogve and neighbouring villages.

Teachers at this school are drawn from the community. Viveki Pasta and Kavita Anand of Adhyayan, alongwith Mangal, did three weeks of teacher training in May 2010 to enable the teachers to understand the craft of classroom teaching. We worked on the principle that if teachers work with the idea that they are teaching children the basics of numeracy and literacy, then they have to understand how children learn. Since children are not one person multiplied into many, the idea that diverse children with diverse needs, abilities and inclinations were actually a resource for the teacher, was introduced to them.

Following a daily rhythm, continuing with previous learning, introducing something new, using storytelling, songs, art, craft and activities, pacing the lesson, using formative assessment and looking at the world holistically, were some of the ideas discussed and implemented. The teachers also gained the confidence to speak, conduct circle time and offer their own ideas.

The school opened with two classrooms, a verandah and an open play area. Within a year, Michelle Chawla found sponsorship for beautiful bamboo classrooms. The construction led to perhaps the most stunning looking rural school in Maharashtra, which is now expanding organically into the Primary.

The response from the Warli community and other deprived and marginalised communities who send their children to this school has been tremendous. The children love school. Recently, a Teach for India fellow joined the school as a Head Teacher. Adhyayan continues to work with the school by providing critical and creative inputs in curriculum development and teacher training.