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Sahil (male, 7 years)

How a young boy fought adversities to regain confidence in studies

Sahil is a resident of Kashele village. The boy used to be a very shy and quiet student. He was admitted to the Zilla Parishad school at Kashele in June 2022, which was the beginning of that academic year. Though I joined the school in August 2022, I could never meet Sahil except through the attendance register as Sahil did not come to school for that entire year.

In June 2023, I was pleasantly surprised to see a rather chubby Sahil sitting in the class all by himself. Though otherwise healthy, Sahil would not mix with other children and preferred to stay all by himself even when the others were playing. When other students would be studying in a group, Sahil would be found sitting alone.

He would come to me only when called for and respond only when spoken to. I soon realised that Sahil had a fear for communication and interaction. He lacked confidence in both those areas. If someone happened to snatch away his belongings, Sahil would sit crying but not confront. His communication would usually be limited to monosyllables, like Yes and No.

I began to give Sahil 15 minutes of personal attention every day. I tried to find the cause for his fearfulness. Through dialogue and friendly conversation I tried to instill confidence in him. With encouragement to participate in various school activities and with acknowledgement and appreciation, I soon found Sahil opening up and making an effort to participate and communicate. I probed deeper to understand what Sahil could be afraid of and why.

Upon meeting his parents during a home visit I realized that Sahil had had no exposure to formal school atmosphere before going to the ZP school. That was because he had not been to any Anganwadi or a play school. The ZP school was therefore a totally new experience for Sahil of which he was afraid.

I also realized that Sahil came from an Adivasis family where formal education was nearly absent. Sahil's mother had had no formal education and could not help Sahil revise lessons at home or with his home assignments. He therefore was solely dependent on what he learned at school.

Sahil therefore required more of my attention, which i decided to provide in a friendly and informal way. During a period when Sahil's absence at the class had risen, I visited his house to meet his parents and explained to them the importance of quality education. For his mother, I painted a verbal picture of Sahil's achievements as a result of good education. My efforts paid off and soon his attendance at the class improved.

During this process, I realized that the environment at Sahil's home was not conducive for education. His parents were uneducated and did not realize the importance of education. I therefore started to give more time to Sahil in the class for practice and revision taking into consideration his mood. As a result of all this, now Sahil is more willing to participate in school activities and is often found playing and interacting with his friends. He has even started to partake in field games.

©Samaaveshi Pathshaala, 2024