OVERCOMING BARRIERS TO LEARNING - THE PARIKRMA WAY
Parikrma Humanity Foundation is a non-profit organization, running 4 K-12 schools for 1700+ children from the slums of the Indian city of Bangalore. The family background of our students poses barriers to their education even before their birth, from parental illiteracy to poorly nourished mothers with little access to pre natal care. The children we take in at age 5, without screening for mental or physical disabilities, are typically under-nourished, and often traumatized by abusive parents.
Faced with so many barriers to learning, the children’s ability to learn seems remote. Yet, over the last 14 years, since our inception in 2003, Parikrma has continued to significantly out-perform government schools and many private schools on measures of attendance, drop-out, overall development and academic & non-academic performance. In this paper, we will present the Parikrma model, or the Parikrma Way as it is called, that we have implemented to overcome the multiple learning barriers faced by our students.
The Parikrma Way has 2 facets.The 1st is what we call the 360º model with its 4 key pillars of Education, Nutrition, Health Care & Family Welfare. This model essentially believes that while students are at the center of our program, all-round intervention is needed to overcome the learning deterrents they face from their birth. Thus the need to not only sit them down in classrooms and offer academic instruction, but also to provide regular health check-ups, medical care &nutrition. And last, but not least, are the family welfare measures, where we work intensively with our parents and communities in many ways – financial literacy programs, opening bank accounts, skilling &training, micro finance to start small businesses, workshops on nutrition&hygiene etc., all designed to improve their awareness, financial stability and social mobility. This multi-pronged approach stems from our belief that it requires this kind of 360º intervention to ensure that our children are able to optimize the education they are given.
The 2nd facet of the Parikrma Way is the E to E model, where we work with our children from KG to beyond the time they graduate from our schools; in fact they continue to benefit from Parikrma even after college.Help from the Parikrma system is extended in multiple ways – college scholarships, counselling & mentoring to help adjust to life outside Parikrma, training to improve interview & exam taking skills, communication, grooming etc. The E to E program was conceptualized after our first few cohorts graduated, and we realized that their college performance was inadequate, not due to poor academic preparation but from feelings of inadequacy before new class mates, financial pressures of college fees etc.Thus, the need to hand hold them for years after they move beyond Parikrma.
Our final paper will present details of the Parikrma Way and its uniqueness in overcoming learning barriers. Rather than focusing on better tools to repair a problem, we try to go to the bottom of the problem and eliminate it through work with the families & communities. The paper will present empirical data, showing Parikrma’s superior performance on key measures of learning & development. We would show evidence of the life changing impact of the Parikrma Way, through the rise of our families up the economic ladder, and its positive impact on their children. We believe that this model can be implemented in under-served communities across the world.