Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Funding an Art Teacher in India

Hi everyone,

The Jo Walters Trust is really keen to find ways to communicate with people who are interested in what we do and we felt that a blog might enable us to share information and opinions to a wider audience, not just those who follow us on Facebook. To kick off, +Kirstie Duke, a trustee of the Jo Walters Trust has written a post for us about our most recent grant which has funded an art teacher for a very deserving school in India. Kirstie has explained more about how this grant will be spent and why we felt it was important below. 

Kirstie teaching an English lesson

I am personally extremely excited to announce a new grant made by the JWT, to the truly deserving 'Sarita Convent School' in Gwalior, India. All of the wonderful fundraising you have all been doing has now provided the school with an Arts and Crafts teacher for the school year, July 2013 to May 2014. At the moment, they have a period dedicated to 'art' but they have never had a teacher for this, so the children just continue doing normal work or colouring in pictures during this period.  I thought it would be a really great thing for them to be able to offer proper art lessons to the children, not every one is academic, so good to give them the opportunity to find hidden talents and explore their creative side! 

I have been fortunate enough to have just spent six weeks teaching English at this wonderful school, living with the family who have devoted both their home, and their lives, to the cause of educating the poor in their area.  Sarita is the most wonderful oasis of a school.  From the busy street outside housing a cacophony of vegetable sellers, tuk tuk's, men on bicycles, sacred cows and beautiful bare footed children, you wouldn't envisage the calm of a big airy school to be lying behind the gates!  The school building, which is also home to the family that established it some 19 years ago in 1995, is educating around 1,400 children from nursery age right through to the final 12th year.  Having spent time living intimately with the family in their home and from immersing myself in the school life, I found it all a most humbling experience.  No one is turned away from the school, if there is a child that needs and wants an education, the school will always do everything they can to make it happen.  These are the children who have so little, and the least that they deserve is the opportunity of a decent education.  Many of the parents struggle to pay the very minimal school fees which are asked (3,500 rupees p/a or £42) and, year on year, the school has to find ways to absorb this debt.  Whilst many schools would take the view that without fees being paid there is no place for the child in the school, Sarita is a school with a big heart.  If they, as a family, have to sacrifice certain wealth that would come by operating in this way, they consider it a small price to pay.  Better to have a full school brimming with laughter than a half empty school by denying the faultless children the gift of learning.  I feel very passionately that bringing an Arts and Crafts teacher into the school will give the children their first opportunity, within this environment, to express themselves creatively in a class.  Education shouldn't all be about heavy books and rulers!  ... We will keep you up to date with news and artwork from the classroom!

Kirstie with the Children of Sanita Convent School


Robin said...

What a wonderful post, Kirstie! And a great idea!

Verity Flora Hawson said...

Great blog Kirstie, sounds an amazing experience! Money very well spent by the JWT!