The Good Harvest
RETHINKING LEARNING, INDIA
The Good Harvest is a free, all-girls agro-school based in the small rural village of Jabrela in Uttar Pradesh, India. They provide an opportunity for girls who otherwise would be neglected from education, to explore who they are as young women without social pressure, helping them develop strong bonds of connections between the girls, to open up and share their feelings and empathise with one another.
The Good Harvest also puts a strong focus on developing practicals skills to help girls become economically independent in the future, such as teaching them how to work the land and grow food.
To learn more about The Good Harvest go to http://www.thegoodharvestschool.com/
In many parts of India, the birth of a girl is not welcomed. Discrimination, humiliation and oppression are not new to a girl born in a rural village. Gender plays a big role when it comes to healthcare, education and growth opportunities. Many girls are still neglected and asked to make sacrifices every day.
Nearly 48% of girls in rural India get forcefully married before the age of 18. The female rate of literacy according to India's latest census is 64%, a staggering 20% lower than for men. Around 40% of girls aged 15-18 years drop out of school according to a recent report by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights. Of the girls who drop out, 64.8% do so because they are forced to take on household chores, or are engaged in begging.
The Good Harvest does an amazing job by providing education to girls who have been deprived from it for most of their lives. Many of the their students can't count, write or read when they first come to the school, whilst the ones who have been attending to school from a young age, do. Resulting in groups of girls with mixed abilities and levels of development who cannot be organised by age or grade the way it's done in a traditional school.
How might we deliver a suitable and meaningful learning experience to underprivileged girls with mixed educational backgrounds?
The first thing is to recognise that there's inherent value in diversity and the importance of using that to promote collaboration instead of competition. By removing the element of standardisation and competition that traditional education imposes on learning, The Good Harvest is creating new ground for experimentation and re-framing the whole education challenge from "what should we teach students?" to "how do students learn?".
With the classroom divided into smaller units of 7-9 girls with mixed ages and levels of education, and each group being led by a teacher or a volunteer. The role of the team lead is to get to know each girl in their group and recognise their strengths and weaknesses in relation to the rest of the group.
Based on that understanding we came up with the concept of "Permanent Beta Classroom", where by the end of each day the team leads would have a debrief and we would design different learning material, then we would test it with the different groups during class, pivote when needed and iterate according to how the girls were progressing.
Even in a very short period of time, the initial results were outstanding, the girls were learning faster, they were motivated about learning and they were supporting each other in the process.