Wednesday, July 30, 2008
After having carried out a study on Corporal Punishment in May,2006, Plan India published the findings in the “Impact of Corporal Punishment on School Children”. These findings were shared with communities and children from mid 2006 to early 2007.
Alongside, Comics workshops to validate children’s perceptions were held in the states of Uttar Pradesh and Delhi between October-November. These workshops resulted in a 30 page book, “Spare the rod—it won’t spoil the child” compiled by WCI and Plan India using the four panel comics generated from the workshops.
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Age old proverbs like ‘spare the rod and spoil the child’ have only reinstated the social malice, making both elders and children believe in the facade of its corrective value. As a consequence, children don’t go astray, but often become drop outs from schools, get cuts and bruises for life and have memories of a childhood living in the fear of punishment, physical or otherwise.
Monday, July 28, 2008
Plan India is an international, humanitarian, child centred community development organisation working in 13 states of India. Children are the heart of the programmes and projects that the organisation does.
Saturday, July 26, 2008
BBM is the crucial partner of this campaign as most the activities would be designed and implemented with the help of its members.
Friday, July 25, 2008
As discussed and decided with prior interactions with coordinators from GNK, the ‘BBM’ (Babu Beheni Manch) formed an integral part of the workshops. Having an existing children’s forum such as the BBM in many villages, WCI found it simple to work on the issue.
The first workshop was designed for training the trainers in order for them to spread the message forward. These trainers would through the ripple effect train others through the medium of comics on the issue of corporal punishment. The first set of trainers was the members of the BBM. There were a total of 24 participants for the first workshop. These participants had their set notions and stereotypes regarding corporal punishment which WCI hoped to question.
The workshops were set off by a general introduction of the participants which further was facilitated into a discussion on the topic of Punishment and Gender discrimination. To start with, the WCI facilitators realized that 70% of the participants believed that some sort of punishment is required for disciplining the child. After sharing a few testimonials of children from the book ‘Spare the Rod’ and comics made by them, the discussions took a different form. The participants realized that punishment wasn’t the best method of disciplining and that other methods could be adopted. They agreed that in school some of their friends who had dropped out could have, because of severe punishments. After much deliberations and discussions, the participants were shown how with the help of cartoons, an awareness is gained on an issue that concerns the community. Films like ‘Apni Dikri Ro Haq’ and ‘Swear by the River’ were screened to elucidate the use of cartoons. These films led to the participants to involve the teachers and parents in the process of the discussion.
Gender as an interesting dimension pointed out by many for the issue of corporal punishment. The group (existing of teachers, parents and the children) said that there was no gender discrimination… as in schools Boys may get punished a lot more, but at homes Girls are punished to complete the household chores.
Eventually, the importance of comics, the use of A4 size paper, four frames to tell the story etc. were some of the many concepts explained, discussed and deliberated upon. While the participants made some comics themselves, the idea was how they could facilitate such learning to others.
Every BBM member would spread the word in their own Bal Samuh, ie; their children group’s actively working at various villages. The Bal Samuh members would further with the help of comics spread the word around to generate awareness amongst the whole community. This is the ripple effect that WCI follows. In the case of the BBM it would function like:
Details like naming the campaign ‘Chadi to Hathkadi’ (‘Handcuffs on the stick’), method of conducting workshops with members from the various Bal Samuhs, logistics of dates and stationary were all discussed and decided by the participants.
Now, the trained participants, ie; the new trainers were given the responsibility of spreading the word and generating awareness on the topic of corporal punishment. The next few workshops were organized at various different blocks and villages of the Maharajganj district.
Thursday, July 24, 2008
On 26th May everyone returned their villages and spread the message about the forthcoming workshop in their BBM.
WCI team invited its trainers from different part of the country to support the BBM team in these workshops.
Jharkhand: Sunder Mohan and Lakhindra Nayak.
Rajasthan: Manish Singh, Suresh Jaipal and Rajpal.
Uttarakhand: Monika, Udit and Davendra
Uttar Pradesh: Dimple, and
Delhi: Suhail, a development communication student who helped in video documentation.
The villages that were to be covered in the Maharajganj district were:
3) Hardi Dali
2 villages Achalgarh and Pokharwa were in the Laxmipur block while rest were in Ratanpur Block.
At the Ganvaria village, there were 16 participants present from their Bal Samuh on day one of the workshop. Sashipriya and Rajni from the BBM, trained and facilitated the comics workshop with Monika who was present for observations and overall support. The resource persons complained that few participants were too young so they divided into groups and adopted different methodologies for each group.
At the Sundi village, 20 BBM members participated on day one. Ghanshyam (BBM member) arranged the group of participants quite well with Nandeshu present for any needed help. The workshop went quite well with members converting maximum stories into visuals and into the format of comics. The process of members sharing their personal testimonials on their experiences of punishments in school and at home was well facilitated and tapped by the Ghanshyam a new trainer for comics workshops.
At the Hardi Dali village, one of the trainers, Sanjay offered his home as a venue for the workshop as there was no other space available to run the workshop. On the second day of workshop, a total of 9 participants were present with all the previously present girls absent. Since Sanjay had to leave for another program, the venue of the workshop shifted. It eventually gained momentum with 4-5 participants and the help of BBM members like Ramprasad and Sushil.
At the Dharora village, two BBM members, Santoshi and Saraswati organized the workshop in the only available space, a veranda. With Santoshi’s good orientation skills and Saraswati’s one to one interaction many comics were finalized on the issue of corporal punishment on last day of the workshop.
At the Nonia village, the trainers were inspected at the Border checkpost making it an adventurous journey for the new young trainers of the BBM. The workshop had a total of 35 participants including women and youth and was well organized at an Aganwadi. On day two there were setbacks of absenteeism at the workshops which left the trainer heartbroken. But was soon supported by Manish (WCI team), who went house to house convincing people to send their children to workshop.
When the team went to participants’ home and showed these comics to their parents, they were amazed to see the story’s output.
At the Jaswal village, trainers had to cross a river by foot. Udit arranged one veranda to organize the workshop which was attended by 15 participants. One small girl named Jaya Pandey refused to take part in this workshop as she said she is here at uncle’s place for vacation not for training, but finally she got tempted to join the group and drew few comics herself. The workshop went well with a final of 12 participants working on their final work.
At the Achalgarh village, Suresh and Rajpal (WCI team) commuted by train to conduct the comics workshops at the village. Since two villages were in the Laxmipur block, traveling took up a lot of the time. The workshops followed a smooth process and went well.
The Pokharwa village along with Achalgarh village was extremely far, as the trainers themselves were physically drained out and complained of the distances. Smita and Sudhir Choudhary (BBM members) the local trainers were finding it difficult to convince people for participating in the comics workshop. This limitation was soon overcome by Rajpal (WCI team) who went house to house and arranged for participants for the workshop. It was conducted under a tree due to lack of space.
At the end of third day there were a mix of reactions from the trainers, few were satisfied with their work while few complained about the high drop out rate of the participants. Next month (in June) a follow up workshop will be organized for the same group; here everyone will get a chance to share their experiences as well as problems they faced.
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Sudhir and Smita conducted the workshop in Ramnagar Pandetola. Their workshop was a wonder in itself. Due to lack of any place the workshop was organised under a tree even at forty five degree of heat. The trainers used the bark of the tree to hang the chart paper, to be used as a blackboard. The comics and papers were blowing in the wind. However it was not a deterrent to our young trainers. Even other villagers gathered around to see what the occasion was. They appreciated the children and encouraged them. After the last day the villagers came and asked the trainers if the new “school” was not running anymore.
In Kunserva, the workshop was conducted by Rajni, Ghanshyam and Ram Prasad. All the three trainers were from different villages. When they saw the participants of this village, who were too small for any such workshop, they never believed that the children would ever be able to follow any of their instructions. They explained them with examples, illustrations and experiences before the children were ready to make their own comics. It was a sight to watch them engrossed in their comics, so much that they even skipped their lunch. Moreover, the first day the children were late for the workshop, but on the second day they were even before time!
Abhinesh and Sajivan conducted the workshop in Shyamkat village. Despite being new to the village, the children went house to house to call the children to participate. Many women also gathered and made their own comics although it was not very relevant to the issue.
Saraswati and Santoshi conducted the workshop in Trilokpur together. Twenty one children attended the workshop. Some children told the trainers that they already knew how to make comics as they had seen Saraswati’s comics posted in the village before. Since this big number of children was not expected, the stationary fell short. But the children coordinated with each other and four children shared one pencil in this workshop.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Just before the second round of campaign, WCI and GNK team visited few villages of the campaign area to meet the potential stakeholders of the campaign in the days to come. The visit and experiences of the team reflect the perception of the community against corporal punishment and their preparedness to raise their voice against it through Chadi Ke Lagal Hathkadi campaign. They first visited Sundi village. They met a teacher of the Balwadi centre. When they introduced the idea of the campaign, the teacher gave her consent that violence is not the only potent way of dealing with children. She supported it by saying that she herself never mistreated her students whereas in other schools children are treated brutally. It was in her knowledge that a workshop was conducted in the village by the young trainers. Although she was not aware of the legal provision against corporal punishment, but still she did not profess the idea of cruelty to children on sensitive grounds. She appreciated the initiative and cause of the campaign and assured her full assistance in the process. She offered her support in arranging discussions with other teachers and parents. Since she felt that she did not have complete information about the issue, she wanted WCI to assist her at all levels.
In Hardidali, the team came across the Gram Pradhan (village head). He accepted that corporal punishment is considered to be a normal routine in the school. However, sometimes when the children are beaten up very harshly to leave bruises and marks, he has discussed the matter with the teachers personally. He has worked on the issue in his own way without any formal training or awareness. He feels that corporal punishment has extended consequences. It is not only about physical pain but also the mental trauma that it creates leading to fear from going to school and ultimately resulting into dropping out from school.
In Bichadali village, the response was equally good. The team met three community mobilisers in the village. One of them, Ram Nivas had earlier watched WCI’s documentary ‘Apni Dikri Ro Haq’, about the campaign on girl child rights in Rajasthan. He liked the idea of the campaign and ensured his full participation. Rajesh and Balwant, the other community mobilisers, had also been earlier participants of WCI’s workshops in the area. They were enthusiastic to get involved in the campaign.
In Hardidali village, they visited a local school, Swargiya Devi Narayan School. They had a detailed discussion on teachers and the upcoming campaign with the school teacher. The school teacher agreed that he always felt corporal punishment was a wrong approach but he never had a prior orientation to the issue and the legality that is provisioned by the government against it.
In Kurserva village, the community seemed to be already prepared to fight against corporal punishment and to lend their support in the campaign. A teacher who runs a private school in the village had also offered his school as the venue for the workshop that was conducted in the village. He supported the initiative and also ensured mobilization of his school children in any rally or campaign that would take place in the future. On the other hand, the community mobiliser of this village had already put up many comics in the area on corporal punishment. They had begun working on the issue at their level.
In Nuniya village, a teacher of a private school provided many ideas to make the campaign more influential. He suggested that a comic exhibition can be displayed in his school. He expressed readiness in involving his students in rallies. Moreover, meetings with the parents in Parents Teacher Meetings (PTA) with the teacher can also instill desirable results.
In Trilokpur and Dhorara village, the response of the villagers was positive. In the past they have never raised their voice against corporal punishment. However, they never preferred this practice in the school.
Monday, July 21, 2008
In this second workshop, new trainers shared their experiences of conducting the workshops independently. The purpose of sharing the experiences was not only to get a feedback of the achievements in their own way but to also practically analyse the difficulties faced in conducting such workshops using the community resources. It also involved the challenges faced in articulating apt explanation to encourage comics making to children who need not be born artists. It also turned out to be a challenge for the trainers to give a coherent explanation at some particular steps in drawing and story telling. The effort was to rectify these first hand experiences and challenges for action in the days to come.
We also realized that along with the resources, other major difficulty in organizing a workshop in a village independently by these young BBM members is the limitation to generate interest, concentration and consistency amongst the participants. The local surrounding and make shift arrangements also tends to make the children more restless and distracted. Children of small age-groups who did not attend school participated in good numbers. Explanation of corporal punishment to them was a difficult exercise since they did not have a prior exposure to the issue. After lunch the trainer had to again recollect the participants individually. While in other cases, children were called back by the parents to work and especially girls.
Despite these limitations, there were also cases where even illiterate children had made their own comics.
This ToT workshop was also conducted with the aim of moving one step forward in the art of comics making. In this workshop, the children were introduced to comic booklet using eight-panels, comic strips and wall posters. All the trainers created their own eight panel comics. The participants had worked hard for two days to create a story, to draw a rough draft and then finally inking it. But all the hard work had turned into thrill and excitement when the children saw their comics to shape into a booklet. Our trainers used this booklet to pen down their stories on corporal punishment. On the first day, different issues in corporal punishment was identified by the participants. Some were personal experiences while others were of their friends’.
Eight new members have become part of the core group of Chadi Ke Lagal Hathkadi Camapign from these workshops conducted in the villages. These children were part of the trainer’s workshop and our activists Anam Purty and Suresh are training them to be the future trainers. These children have been inspired by their fellow friends who are now trainers. Sudha and Vanadan, both fourteen years of girls attended the workshop in Shyamkat. They with full interest completed the workshop and now are excited to be part of the campaign. When told that they would someday conduct a workshop themselves, they were full of delight.
And these series of workshops and association of the people has a long road ahead...
Sunday, July 20, 2008
One of the participant Nitesh, when went out of the workshop to get some stationary, in the auto a man took his newly created comic booklet from the pocket. When he flipped through the pages, after some thought he refused to return his comics. When the Nitesh demanded to have his booklet back the man replied that since the boy has made it this time, he can always make another one the next time. Nitesh had to part with his comics with a heavy heart. He had not even shown it to his parents and friends yet. But it also came as a surprise for him to see the acceptability of his work.
Saturday, July 19, 2008
(22nd June-24th June, 2008)
After the second ToT workshop, our new trainers went back to their villages and the very next day conducted their comics workshop. This time the trainers felt more confident after their first experience. Moreover, through detailed sessions in the ToT workshops, these trainers have been able to rectify their shortcomings and overcome their hesitations. Ten such comics workshops were held from 22nd June to 24th June, 2008 in Shyamkat, Trilokpur, Sundi, Dharora, Kunserva, Hardi Dali, Ramnagar Pandetola, Ganwariya, Jaswal and villages.
In Shayamkat village, it was the assurance and eagerness of our youngest newly joined trainers Sadhna and Vandana to conduct the workshop in their village that made the effort successful. These girls also convinced Abhinesh of Nonia village, who has an experience of conducting one workshop, to volunteer to assist these two girls.
In the morning, the girls were seen wandering house to house to call the children individually. They walked through the fields to invite other children from a settlement near their village. They even got the children by hand for the workshop! Meanwhile, Ram Prasad, the Balwadi teacher cleaned and prepared the venue of the workshop. Around fourteen children attended the workshop.
It was surprising to note that the children had remembered the sequence of story writing, the format and other specifics of drawing figures, from the last workshop which was conducted almost one month back. Neelam was one of the new participants. She had heard from other children about the comics workshop held last time. She felt that creating comics is easy since her younger brother, who attended the workshop before, does it all the time!
The youngest participant in the workshop was a seven years old girl Neha. By the second day, she had finished drawing her comics but since the girl was still small to write, she had left the space for dialogues, and dictated the dialogues to the trainers to write for her.
By the end of the second day, each child had completed at least two comics. Some were on their third story. Total twenty one comics were prepared while around ten more were expected to come by the third day of the workshop. All the stories made were new, different and fresh after all these days of comics making.
In Trilokpur, the workshop was conducted by Saraswati. Thirteen children participated in this workshop. The workshop was conducted in a much organised way. The children finished their preliminary exercise of making drawings early in the day. Saraswati had neatly pasted their individual drawings on a string and hung it up for display. The trainer was using the Trainers Manual to instruct the children. Each child was called on the board to address the participants. By the end of the third day, each child had made their own comics. The children made use of black and white beautifully. They made appealing drawings and used different stories to address the issue.
Santoshi, one of our eloquent and articulate trainers, was conducting the workshop in Dharora. The workshop began at 10 am at a Balwadi centre. Initially there were fourteen children for the workshop but by lunch time only nine had remained. Most of the children were called by their parents to work on the rice puddles. Out of the nine children, six children were new to the workshop. The villagers were standing around the place of workshop to observe the children work. They were watching Santoshi train the children and expressed that it was a matter of pride for them to see their village girl addressing the children of her age and even older to her so confidently.
Since more number of children were new to the workshop, the other earlier trained participants were helping them wherever they felt any difficulty. Majority of the participants were girls. The girls who had participated earlier told that the last time when they were called for the workshop they were very reluctant to come. But this time when they came to know about the workshop, they readily agreed to come even for the second time. These girls were sixteen to eighteen years of age. Two of them were also married.
Santoshi was attending the children more on their sheets and ideas rather than giving strict guidelines on the blackboard. By the end of the third day, around eleven comics had come from this group. All the comics reflected new stories and experiences.
The workshop in Kunserva was a pleasant sight to watch. The workshop was been conducted in a private school. The ambience of the school was delightful. This private school had no walls. The classes are conducted in open under a thatched roof. There are benches laid for the students and behind the blackboard there was an overlooking field. Rainy season was a pleasantry here.
The workshop was conducted by Seema and Dimple and the new trainer Arun was assisting them. The best part about this workshop was that Seema was articulately instructing the children in Bhojpuri, the local language of the area. She was also trying to explain the frequently used English words like ‘box’ in Bhojpuri.
The drawings and posters were displayed around the class. The trainers had also prepared a poster for the workshop. There were total sixteen participants from different backgrounds. Out of these, for three children it was a first time experience of any kind of workshop.
The children were responsive. They were cross questioning the trainers. The trainers were attending each participant individually. They were also checking the spelling mistakes and other grammatical errors in the comics. Every time the children were getting distracted from work, the trainers also took them out in open for a small play activity. After reviving themselves, the children got down to work with double the enthusiasm and energy.
This workshop had girls in majority. Most of the girls had their younger siblings along with them. They were working as well as keeping a watch on the young ones who were toddling around the school.
In Sundi, the workshop was conducted by Ghanshayam. The workshop had seven participants. All these participants had attended the first workshop. Therefore, the children straight away went onto writing their stories and also prepared the fair draft of their comics on the first day itself. By the end of the first day, there were four complete comics and rest all were on the stage of finishing. By second day morning, all the children had finished their first comic and quickly went onto writing the second story.
Each time the children felt more confident about making comics. They had made a wonderful use of special effects. Their characters showed movement and actions. After each comic, the children were experimenting with new styles and effects. The children were now playing with ideas, innovations and creativeness.
[The Balwadi in-charge was with the group throughout the morning. She thought of this workshop to be very fruitful since the stories and issue was not fictitious but based on real incidents and experiences. She herself is a staunch critic of corporal punishment. Her son of four years of age was also attending the workshop from the last two days. He was imitating other kids and was copying their drawings on his sheet of paper.]
[Workshop in Sundi was a nature’s delight! On the second day, because of the unavailability of Balwadi, the children gathered and made the preparations for the workshop under a mango tree. The children settled on a plastic sheet on the ground. The area was surrounded by a big pond on one side and fields and cattle on the other. The workshop was attacked by cattle at one time or species of biting red ants and extraordinary kind of spiders at the other. During the workshop the children suddenly started to scream when a water snake crawled at the scene. The children were in laughter with the series of attack of nature but then also retained their concentration back in time.]
The children also thought of showing their comics to the villagers who had gathered for some other event. For the illiterate men and women, the children read out their comics step by step. The villagers understood the issue of the comics and appreciated the children for their tremendous work.
In Pandetola village Sudhir Choudhary was conducting the workshop. On the first day the workshop began at about ten in the morning. When our facilitators reached the workshop they were surprised to see that most of the children were comparatively small for their age at the workshop. There were around twelve participants in the workshop. For most of the participants, it was a first of its kind of experience. Some of them didn’t even understand what comics meant.
Our facilitator Anam Purty was from the Jharkhand state. It was difficult for the children to understand the instructions in Hindi which was an alien language to the participants as well as our trainer. Initially children were unable to identify the issue. But gradually when Anam Purty brought a touch of Bhojpuri in his Hindi, the children happened to understand the instructions better.
Because of lack of time on the first day, only identification of issues and story writing could be dealt with. Overall by the third day the children worked hard and came out with their comics. However, everybody felt that three days were less to learn and gain expertise over a new skill.
Friday, July 18, 2008
Our newly trained trainer Sudhir Choudhary has got invitation from the neighbouring villages to conduct comic workshops. Sudhir is excited about this popularity from his newly attained status of a ‘comics trainer’ not only in his village but even elsewhere. Also Pandetola village has finally named his BBM group as ‘Sarvodaya’ on 2nd July 2008 with great splendor and ceremony.
“This is just a beginning…"