Activity Report March 2016 of Naveen School, Varanasi

The school organised again workshop for teachers’ training which was conducted by Juhi Pandey like in the years before. Juhi has been associated with our trust over many years and is loved by everyone,both the children and our teachers. The workshop was held from 16th – 22nd February 2016 and it was about training the teachers on how to come up with new, creative and innovative ways to communicate and teach the children at school. The seven days workshop focused on how to be patient and understanding towards the various behavior patterns of the child,and at the same time deriving creative ways to tackle and teach the child. During the workshop the teachers were asked to make few small dolls using cloths and paper showing different expressions such as sadness, impatience, happiness as well as calmness. The dolls were an expression of the inner feelings that they faced during “difficult” times and how being calm and happy instead of being sad and impatient could lead to better situation and peace of mind. The workshops also included talks and sharing experiences by all the staff

Soon after the workshop ended, the teachers started with the preparation of exams for the children. Revision classes were conducted so that the children get more thorough with what they have learned over the semester as most of the learning takes place during the school hours for these children. The students who needed special help were also taken utmost care of and given more time to clear their concepts. Physical education exams were also conducted during this week. Teachers already had prepared the exam question the previous month and now were doing minor corrections because the examination paper had to be printed.

The exam commenced from 8th March ’16 till 12th March ’16 for classes Nursery to Upper-KG. The exams for class 1 to class 5 began from 12th March’16 and got over on 18th March ’16.

The break after exams till Holi Festival for small kids started from 14th-30th of this month and for older kids it will commence from 19th March till 30th. During this period all the copies will be corrected and results will be prepared by the teachers. Holi is a festival of colours celebrated in India during spring time and is a very joyful time for the children specially.

The result declaration was on 31st of March 2016 and the new session will commence from 1st April 2016.

We wish all our children and teachers the very best for the new session.

Winter Art Workshop with Karin

the artworkshop took place in December 2013

from Karin Haschler, Munich, Germany. Please klick on the link below.

Art work Report


Artwork with Karin Haschler

March 2013

By Karin Haschler, Munich, Germany.
Translation by Edgar Schneider, Regensburg, Germany.

I had the privilege and the great pleasure to be allowed to spend a few weeks at the “Naveen Nursery and Primary School” in Varanasi, and to get the children acquainted with “abstract art”. One day Birgit Pratap, who knows my pictures, asked me if I weren’t interested to teach new creative-artistic ideas and methods to both teachers and children in forms 1 to 5, as there are no classes in creative arts in Indian schools comparable to our system. What the children do there is predominantly copying and colouring, and the maximum amount of creativity would be boldening the borders of an image with a felt-tip pen.
Instead, she was concerned with offering incentives to both teachers and children on how to generate creative, queer, slightly crazy pictures and little works of art, using various simple materials and disregarding the Indian school norm of artwork. These products should allow teachers and children to get hitherto unknown images, feelings and dreams onto paper in a playful fashion, and thus to provide them with a means of both escaping from their reality, which is often rather bleak and characterized by bitter poverty, and also of overcoming and transforming this reality through phantasies, dreams, and other expressive modes.
After a long period of preparation I took the daring step of introducing methods of abstract painting to the Indian culture and environment, with my highly limited linguistic capacity in Hindi and without a clear idea of where this would lead to.
But it was a huge surprise to experience the enthusiasm and the open-minded attitude with which especially the older children were ready to approach almost every painting activity.
We started with paintings of the entire body, which soon thereafter and in full size were beaming from the walls of the school building, and caused the children to feel pride in and respect for their own personalities.

The younger ones started their artistic body experience first by mutually painting the contours of each others’ faces and then by painting images of themselves onto small cardboard plates, using little mirrors. It was very moving for me to observe the surprise with which some of the children kept looking at themselves in the mirror, and how they started touching their noses and their eyebrows, reluctantly and often full of amazement. The plates with the pictures then deserved a gold-coloured frame, so that the entire row of portraits in the classroom turned out to be really impressive.

Every day an even more courageous painting project was started. I really doubted whether it wasn’t demanding too much to have the children paint abstract faces, Picasso-style. But I could not anticipate the thrilling joy and liveliness with which small pieces of true art were created, using examples of other artists’ work and snippets from newspapers as models and resources. Picasso would have enjoyed experiencing this, especially considering his confession late in life that “it took him an entire lifetime to be able to paint like a child again” – he could have experienced this pure and impetuous creative power here.

Some children turned out to be extraordinarily gifted, and it is painful to realize that due to the bitter poverty of many of these families (with a monthly income of about 30 euros only) it will probably not be possible to support and develop such talents, so they are most likely to vanish again.

Using newspapers, wall colours, wallpaper paste, and pretty much anything we could get hold of, terrific pictures were produced, and the children were rightly proud of them.

During the last week all classes had to take their final exams, but still, despite all the tension and the heat after every exam the students insisted to get art tuition in what would have been their leisure time.

It all culminated in the end in the production of a huge joint picture, a large circle on the topic “My dream school” depicting the “Naveen Nursery and Primary School”. With great splendor this circle is now on display on the wall opposite the entry gate, and the children’s faces show their pride in this.
I was immensely touched by the frankness and the enthusiasm of these children. They made my work very easy, and when I departed I received many little gifts which they had urged their mothers to buy, and also self-painted pictures, statues of Indian Gods, and a full painting, anticipating the upcoming Holi festival.
All of this work would not have been possible, however, without the untiring support of Janani, Birgit Pratap’s charming and clever daughter. She always stood by my side with her help with translations, her pedagogical sensitivity, her familiarity with the Indian mentality and her delicate ways of preventing me from making embarrassing mistakes. And I would also have been lost hopelessly without Birgit’s pragmatic help, dedication and readiness to assist in purchasing work materials in the jungle of Indian shopping opportunities.

In conclusion, I would like to say that after having experienced closely the daily activities of Naveen school, the arduous word of the teachers, the continuous fights of the school principals against India’s bureaucracy and Birgit Pratap’s untiring efforts to give the children access to an alternative school model have filled me with enormous respect for their work! Especially as opposed to state-run schools, where in classes of a hundred and more children the students basically receive mass treatment and no real tuition is possible, this school and its supporters deserve my full respect.
I fully agree with Birgit Pratap’s creed that the only way to break up India’s obsolete society structures essentially is offering access to good educational opportunities to all children from all strata of society.
With a huge amount of personal effort and selfless dedication, with very limited financial means and excellent pedagogical work this school contributes to developing self-confidence and trust in their own abilities as well as moral integrity in Indian children. I look forward to being able to contribute a few more steps to that end again with my artistic input this coming autumn.


Juhi Pandey Workshop

The workshop took place from 25th February till 4th March 2013
by Juhi Pandey, Goa, India

At Naveen Nursery & Primary School, Varanasi – A short Teacher’s Training Program on Creative Learning & Problem Solving. I conducted a 3 day training session with the teachers of the school, especially in the area of understanding experiential learning rather than instruction based learning. The first session was an introduction to the program and to create an environment of tackling challenges. The second session was on the understanding of VARK through live and experiential examples, where the teachers had to get down on their knees. And the final session was on creative learning, where each teacher had to try and tackle one of her subjects creatively. At the end we had a feed back session where many raised issues on student behavior and discipline which I tried to help with citing examples and methods to bring about the required change in these areas.

At Naveen Nursery & Primary School, Varanasi – today, I worked with the 1st Standard students. we believe that making children curious about their environment, their space, the world beyond their homes and school, will create a spark to want to know more ! to want to learn more ! The 1st standard children are yearning to know more, and hence, using the basic Continent Song, we discovered the world and how it is divided by the sea into the 7 main continents, and the song helped in the children learning the names of these continents. As an assimilation exercise, I used the basic outline of a world map and worked with each child to recognize the location of the continent and write down its name.
The song was the most enjoyable of it all !

At Naveen Nursery & Primary School, Varanasi – I worked with the 4th and 5th Standard students today. In all 38 students. The concept of the workshop was to bring them together to work as a group and to understand how to manage with limited resources. We began with showing them a couple of films on the condition of our planet earth due to the disrespect being shown to it by the human race and then connecting it to everyday life stories of how we learn qualities like respect, honesty, friendship. The workshop culminated with an exercise of a Word Jumble – where each student was given one letter from a jumble of 4 words and then once they had painted the letter they had to find the words and their group and put it together. We also taught the students the Tara Anthem which they shall sing tomorrow at their Annual Day function of the school.

written by Juhi Pandey


Clowns Without Borders

“even more miles to go before we sleep”

by Alex, Munich, Germany
written on Monday, 18th February 2013 at 19:43

Nach wie vor quillt auch Varanasi, im Dunstkreis der Kumbh Mela, über vor Pilgern die die Tempel der Stadt besuchen wollen und täglich für den fast völligen Verkehrsinfarkt sorgen. Daß wir es dennoch auch heute schaffen, unseren Autrittsort mit nur einer Minute Verspätung zu erreichen, liegt wahrscheinlich an der Aufhebung von Raum und Zeit im Chaos der Stadt.

Immerhin, die Schulen sind heute wieder offiziell geöffnet. Wir besuchen die von der Wider Vision Foundation organisierte Naveen School, die von Birgit und Neel Pratap geleitet wird, und 220 Kinder im Stadtviertel Teliyabagh schulisch betreut, für die sonst kein Weg zu Bildung verfügbar wäre. Die Kinder, die verschiedenste unterprivilegierte Hintergründe haben, begrüssten uns schon bei unserer Ankunft sehr herzlich, und freuten sich sichtlich auf unsere Show.

Es sollte unsere kleinste, d.h. auf engstem Raum stattfindende Show werden, wir hatten drei mal drei Meter Platz, während die Kids rechts und links im Aussen-Gang der Schule saßen. Ich hatte erst noch Zweifel, ob das machbar ist, aber es ließen sich alle Teile der Show in der Enge spielen. Grade die dichte Athmosphäre und die sehr aufgeweckten Kinder ließen eine sehr schöne, konzentrierte und leichte Show enstehen.

Mittlerweile haben wir dieses unglaubliche “Irrenhaus” Varanasi mit dem Abendzug nach Gaya verlassen, wir reisen nach Bihar, dem ärmsten Bundestaat Indiens, um in der Umgebung der Millionenstadt in den Dörfern zu spielen, und Bodhgaya zu besuchen, eines der Zentren des Buddhismus.

By Aaron – Voluntary English teacher 2012/13

by Aaron, Chicago, USA

Teaching at the Naveen Primary School has been a challenge and a joy.  With limited resources I have been able to craft an English course program for the children of classes one through five with an emphasis on basic grammar and conversation.  The children’s interest in school and will to learn and apply themselves to their studies despite their difficult social situations and the open air classrooms with intermittent power supply is inspiring.   Furthermore to be able to work with and get to know the administration of the school (chiefly Vandana and Birgit) has been a further pleasure and inspiration to keep at the hard work of teaching in this environment. Where too many throw up their hands and say “what can I do?” to alleviate the devastating situation for India’s poor, the Naveen School quietly create real change in the lives of over one hundred students every year, and it has been my honor to work with and for them this past year.


By Kate – Voluntary Arts & Crafts Teacher 2012/13

by Kate, Chicago, USA

Providing a safe environment for children to not only learn, but express their creativity as well, is crucial in such underprivileged environments as the one Wider Vision serves. Teaching the children’s arts and crafts class has given me the opportunity to see a simple paper chain become a class-wide  sensation and to recognise the importance of creating positive classroom experiences for children of all ages.

By Kerstin – Voluntaery Work 2012

by Kerstin, social work student from university of applied science Regensburg, Germany

Benares, Banares or Varanasi – a city with a lot of names….and a lot to offer. I was lucky that I had the opportunity to spent 4 weeks in Varanasi helping out at the Naveen Nursery and Primary School. This is a school for underprivileged children who would otherwise not have the possibility to receive education. With very basic equipment, like open school rooms and young teachers, the school manages to create a safe and comfortable environment in which the kids are able to learn. And it is not only mathematics, science or English that is taught here. The school also attaches great importance to the matter of teaching soft skills. I was surprised by the excellent manners and the sincerity of the children.

My main task was to create a calendar for the year 2013 together with the kids and the help of Janani, Birgit´s daughter. They really enjoyed doing arts and crafts and their love for details was incredible! I would have never thought kids their age would have so much patience :-D . If there was still time in class we would also sometimes dance with the kids, which I think was their favorite part. And again- wow-their skills, I guess inspired by the latest Bollywood movies, are impressive. My other task was to help out with English lessons and even give some lectures myself. The kids were great, but the language barrier sometimes made me look more like a pantomime than a teacher. As a tip for following interns – a hindi language course wouldn’t harm. I was very lucky, because during my time here I had my personal hindi teacher, Divya – the good soul of the household. She was not only patient enough to teach me some words every night, she also introduced me to the indian way of cooking and I am not sure how I will survive without her delicious food. She also took her time to show me around the city and, as I mentioned before, it has a lot to offer like markets, crazy traffic, beautiful temples and not to forget the stunning sunrise over the Ganges river.

I am so thankful for this great opportunity to experience the real Indian way of living and it is hard to put into words how much I have learnt here and what a great time I have had in the school with the kids.

Teacher’s Training Course by Geoff 2010

by Geoff, Sydney, Australia

I was able to visit Naveen School in Varanasi in December, to work with a group of teachers around story-telling and activities that can involve students in better understanding narrative forms.
There were 12 teachers, who teach at all levels in the school, so it was necessary to take a rather general approach and illustrate methods that might be useful at all those levels. As well, I was asked to speak as much as possible in Hindi. I did so but since my Hindi is rather stilted it was good to be able to rely on Vandana, the School Administrator, for translations the rest of the time.
Both of these factors complicated matters, but I think we worked together well in the end.
I began by asking the teachers what they generally do when they ‘read stories with children’. As you’d find in schools anywhere in the world, some like to read with or to children, while others leave more for individual reading. Of course, the latter approach is more applicable to older children.
What I wanted to do, however, was work on ways of getting children involved in the story, and beginning to see what the author is doing.
We chose a fairly familiar Panchatantra story, that would probably be found in all Indian schools. It concerns a family of lions, who ‘adopt’ a baby jackal rather than killing him during a season in which food is hard to find. As he grows up with his lion ‘brothers’ everyone is happy but a day comes when the lions get to hunt an elephant, and the jackal is frightened and runs away. Ultimately, he has to return to the jungle as a jackal.
This is a a story capable of interpretation on a variety of levels (and which should be explored with children on a variety of levels as well). In the short time available, however, I wanted to concentrate on getting the ‘class’, which in this case is a group of teachers, to be participants in the story in some way.
To do this I essentially read to them, but slowly and with lots of pauses to ask questions and investigate. Sometimes I even embellished the story here and there for more meaning and dramatic effect.
The pauses are to invite class members to be involved. For instance, I might ask ‘So, how does the jackal feel when he first meets the father lion, out hunting?’ It’s clear that the jackal would have been frightened, and everyone will say something about that. But if then I say ‘ OK Puja, now you are the jackal, what do you say to Mr Lion?’ Then Puja has to identify with the jackal to answer properly, and if she’s very shy, or finds it difficult, there will be someone else I can turn to who’s clearly already identifying with the jackal. Puja will have another turn later. Then I can choose someone to be Mr Lion, and find out what Mr Lion might say in reply.
From these sorts of activities, children can understand and ‘feel’ a lot more about the story than if it’s just read, to them or by them individually. When we want to ask children to write about a story, then these sorts of activities provide clear starting points. (Note though that this sort of approach is not about teaching children the mechanics of reading. That is done in other ways.)
In working through the story together there are also opportunities to ask questions like ‘what if…?’, ‘why?’ and ‘what’s going to happen next?’; all of which help to get children involved in the story and beginning to understand why it’s told the way it is.
The very last sentence of the story is the one in which the mother lion tells the jackal he has to go back to the jungle as a jackal. There’s really no previous hint in the story that this was going to happen. (Or is there? Can we find one together? ’Why the mother?’ is also a very good question and was raised not by me but by one of the teachers.)
A good indication of the involvement of at least a number of the teachers in the story was the level of dismay expressed when (poor little) jackal was sent away.
We finished the session by briefly discussing where else this story might take us, and what sorts of writing tasks would be suitable for children of different ages. Although the session was brief, I hope and believe it was useful to the group.

The 1000 Cranes Project

A workshop by Juhi Pandey from the Tara for Children Trust in Goa was done in April 2012

Blog by Juhi Pandey