Saturday, November 17, 2012

Latest Updates of Bichitra Pathshala & Tools In Schools Teams

The last few months for Bichitra Pathshala and Tools in Schools teams have been very eventful with many activities with children
-  Summer Bonanza in collaboration with Children's Film Society of India
-  Movie Preview 'Gattu' with children on kite flying with a message of school drop outs
-  Field visit to Coochbehar where the team tried to use an interactive method to improve healthy food eating habits for children

A brief report of these activities can be seen here below

Summer Bonanza 2012 Highlights
Kolkata, July 4-19, 2012
In collaboration with CFSI, BITM &  Bichitra Pathshala
Screening venues:
Ø  Birla Industrial & Technological Museum Auditorium:4-7 July 2012
Ø  City schools:  9-19 July 2012
Total No of shows: 20                               Number of films screened: 10
Number of schools: 29                             Total number of viewers: 5000+
Screening time: 3 shows: 930am, 11am & 130pm at BITM. In schools, as per request.
Age Group of viewers: Primarily 8 to 11 years, although there was a significant number of viewers in the age group of 16 to 18.
Special feature: Interactive screenings by facilitators of Bichitra Pathshala .Children to submit write ups/drawings on the films screened. The best will be given a set of CFSI DVDs.
v Response from schools
This year too, as expected the schools responded enthusiastically to the festival and since we had only one venue several requests poured in for hosting some of the screenings at the schools themselves. It was decided to hold some screenings at the schools between the 9th and 19th July 2012.
With only 7 shows slated for the BITM with a seating capacity of 210 seats, Bichitra Pathshala had no option but to agree to screenings at school campuses given the overwhelming response from the schools and from the 9th to 19th July our members visited several city schools and NGOs for interactive screenings of the films. 21 schools viewed the films between the 4th and 7th at the BITM, while 10 schools had the screening at their own campuses. In all, 29 schools, 18 English Medium schools, 4 Bangla medium schools and 7 NGO run schools enjoyed the Film Festival: a total of more than 5000 children
v Inauguration
at 11am on the 4th July at the BITM auditorium with a colourful dance by Rainbow, an effort by Loreto Sealdah to rehabilitate and educate children of the platforms of Sealdah Station. The audience sang along with the popular film numbers, Lakdi ke kathi and tare zammen pe
The festival was inaugurated with the lighting of the lamp by the BITM Director, CFSI Vice Chairman, Bichitra Pathshala Vice president and Rajan Khosa, Director of “Gattu”. Mr Khosa then announced that when his film was released in the halls commercially, all schools would get a discount when making block bookings.
v Screening at BITM
In the 10 shows at BITM over 2000 children participated.   All shows went off smoothly thanks to the technical support of BITM except for one show interrupted by power cuts, ably handled by the facilitator Mr Tripathi. Facilitation was by SV Raman, Devika Kar, Mini Joseph, Veronica Kayal, Debashish Mondal, Rajesh Trivedi
v Screening at schools: Over 2500 children viewed the films in ten shows
July 9 : La Martiniere for Girls: 350 students (Classes III-V)
July 10: Khalsa School: 150 students (Class IX)
GD Birla Centre for education: 160 (Class XI) + 165 (Class VIII)
July 11: Sri Sri Academy: 200 students (Classes II-V)
July 12: Modern High School for Girls: 160 students (Class VIII)
July 13: Young Horizon: 150 (class II-VI) + 200 (Classes VIII-X)
Future Foundation: 300 (Classes III-V)
July 16:Disha : 100 (Kg-Class II) + 100 ( Classes III- VI)
July 18:Delhi Public School, New Town: 410 (Class VI)
July 19: Manovikas Kendra: 100 children with special needs
v Interactive sessions Overall, the interaction was satisfactory except for a few sessions. Children seem to have loved all the films. Even at school screenings, the overall experience was good except that next time we need to limit the number of students as viewing becomes difficult for those at the back. Teachers also should be present to control discipline. Sound system and screen size needs to be fit for film screening for such large numbers.
v List of schools
English Medium Schools
1.       Loreto Day School, Sealdah
2.       Modern High School
3.       Young Horizons (Karaya Road)
4.       Calcutta International School
5.       La Martiniere for Girls
6.       South City International School
7.       Dolna Day
8.       Kendriya Vidyalaya, Ballygunge
9.       Cambridge International School
10.   Shaw Public School
11.   The Heritage School
12.   Jewish Girls School
13.   Khalsa School (at campus)
14.   GD Birla Centre for education (at campus)
15.   Sri Sri Academy (at campus)
16.   Young Horizon ( Bypass) (at campus)
17.   Delhi Public School, New Town (at campus)
18.   Future Foundation School (at campus)
Bengali Medium Schools
1.       The Oriental Seminary
2.       Nripendranath School
3.       Ananda Ashram Balika Bidyalaya
4.       Kamala Girls School
Schools under NGOs
1.       Loreto Rainbows
2.       Future Hope
3.       Sheila Davar memorial School (Bustee Welfare Society) 
4.       Jyotirmai Vidya mandir
5.       Cini Asha , Sealdah chapter
6.       Disha(at campus)
7.       Manovikas Kendra (children with special needs ) (at campus)
v List of films with synopses
1) Hirer Aangati (Hire Ki Angti) directed by Rituparno Ghosh,(Bengali/ Colour/ 111 minutes)
The festive mood at the Ratan lal Babu’s house is disrupted by the arrival of a stranger, Gandharva Kumar who captivates the grandchildren with his magic. He reveals a long forgotten secret,  claiming  to be the heir to the family property. Is he indeed the actual heir or is it just another of his magic tricks?
2) Charandas Chor directed by Shyam Benegal (Hindi/ B&W/ 155 minutes)
Charandas the thief, after swearing to always tell the truth is adamant in his resolve to follow it. Before committing any theft he tells his victims of his true motives. In the course of his profession as a thief he encounters rulers and artists, businessmen and religious gurus, each of whom ironically pale before the honesty of Charandas, the thief.
3) Karmati Coat directed by Ajay Kartik (Hindi/ Color/ 90 minutes)
Raju is a poor rag picker. One day a magical stranger gifts him a red coat. Raju discovers that whenever he puts his hand in the coat’s pocket a rupee appears. The film is about the adventures of Raju with his magical coat. He realizes an important lesson that easy money comes with its own problems and cannot be enjoyed for long.
4) Malli directed by Santosh Sivan (Tamil-English subtitle/ Color/ 90 minutes)
Malli, a poor tribal girl in Kerala loves yarn spun by the village storyteller Monu. Being a child she believes her tale about the magical blue bead which grants wishes. Malli wants it to cure her mute friend. Once while helping an injured fawn in the forest, she finds the bead. Malli rushes to give it to her friend who is going away. Will she reach on time?
5) Sunday directed by Pankaj Advani (Hindi-English subtitle/ Color/ 60 minutes)
  It’s Sunday and Chintu can’t wait to get up since his father is arriving today. He accompanies his mother to the station. But a series of funny and weird events separate mother, father and son with each trying to find one another. Will the fun ride ever end for the three?
6) Yeh Hai Chakkad Bakkad Bambe Bo directed by Sridhar Rangayan (Hindi-Eng subtitle/ Color/ 82 minutes)
Ganesh, Yashwant, Dilip, Ulhas and Birbal the monkey and Sikandar the dog are spending their summer vacation playing and roaming in their quiet coastal town. They get curious when a mysterious city exporter, Don comes to town. Are the children capable of dealing with the cunning smuggler and save Ganesh’s father?
7) Chutkan Ki Mahabharat directed by Sankalp Meshram (Hindi-English subtitle / Colour/ 87 minutes)
Synopsis – Chutkan lives with the family of his uncle who make him do all their work. His only escape is his imagination. Things go horribly wrong when Chutkan begins altering reality through his dreams. He changes the Mahabharata and the warring Kauravas and Pandavas now become friends.
8) Krish, Trish and Baltiboy directed by Munjal Shroff/ Tilak R. Shetty (Hindi-Eng subtitle / Colour/ 60 minutes)
Synopsis – Krish the cat, Trish the monkey and Baltiboy the donkey – three lovable story-tellers take you on a colorful and exotic journey of Indian folktales to Rajasthan, Kerala and Punjab.
9) A one hour package of Short animation films:
Ammachi ki Machhi (5 min) – Ammachi (grandmother) takes the help of Kallan – the coconut climber to get fresh coconut for the curry she is preparing for her grandson. A cat and a mouse game ensue and Ammachi finally catches Kallan. However instead of handing him to the police, Ammachi befriends him with a simple act of kindness. Besides showing a certain way of life in the state of Kerala, this comic, colorful and vibrant animation outlines the wisdom and kindness that guides the people of India in their daily affairs.
Raju Aur Tinku (17 min) – Raju is an orphan boy. Every day he begins work early morning – distributing milk and newspaper and cleaning cars. Later in the day he works at a bakery. He is lonely at home and draws pictures on his wall. One day a mouse he has drawn comes to life and the two become friends. One day Raju draws a cat in the evening when he returns home, the mouse is missing. Has the cat eaten the mouse?
Nokpokliba (9 min) – Based on a Naga tale this short film tells the story of Nokpokliba, a Naga mystic who saves his people from the treachery of an evil merchant by using his magical powers
Ajeeb Ghar (20 min) – Three fishermen live together in a small hut near the coast and catch fish together. Once while fishing they are caught in a snowstorm. Thus begins their ordeal that takes them through many adventures including taking refuge in the stomach of a large whale.
When we realised the subject of the film Gattu could be related to the school drop-out problem and the latest ruling of the RTE for inclusion of underprivileged children in all schools, Bichitra Pathshala decided to contact schools even though time would be a constraint.
 All doubts put aside, two weeks of frantic phone calls, emails and long waits outside Principals offices paid off -:  we had a very responsive and diverse group of principals from government schools, private English medium schools, International schools, film makers  and some NGOs assembled on the afternoon of 4th July 2012 at the BITM for the screening.
Mini Joseph, member of Bichitra Pathshala and a senior English teacher at St Xavier’s School was the anchor and since there was a slight technical glitch with the film the programme was turned on its back and we began with the panel discussion first and the film and discussion after.
The first to take the dais was our host and collaborator, Birla Industrial and Technological Museum’s PRO Mr Seal who spoke of how positive changes in our educational set up made schools more involved in hands-on learning methods which gave museums such as theirs an important role to play. Organisations like Bichitra Pathshala who take innovative learning methods to schools at all levels also play a role in innovative teaching learning practises.
Father G.Roberge, President Bichitra Pathshala shared his experiences with the audience on how films and other audiovisual medium were also slowly gaining popularity thanks to the efforts of organisations like Children’s Film Society.
After a brief introduction to the activities of CFSI and the role films play in shaping a child’s imagination and add to their knowledge of far off places and people, she spoke of how CFSI selected their films carefully keeping in mind that children from all social and economic backgrounds of our diverse country would be viewing these films and how the films also helped in a way to bring about a national integration of sorts.
Rajan Khosa spoke of his experiences with the child actors, the sets, and the locale of the film and asked the school authorities to please take their students to view the film in the hall once released and promised a discount for school groups who made block bookings.
The much awaited film was finally screened and the audience seemed to have very positive feedback if we go by the discussion and the comments they wrote in their feedback forms, some of which are given below.
 The programme ended with tea and snacks being served to the audience.

report on field visit to coochbehar

D Mondal and D Kar of Bichitra Pathshala visited Coochbehar between 20th and 22nd July and surveyed the schools and women’s self help group to gauge the efficacy of using an interactive hand on module to propagate healthy eating habits among the villagers, especially the school children.

At the outset one must say that the schools visited were in remote rural areas where electricity has not reached and the teacher student ratio is as alarming. Given the situation, it would be better that the module ( films, cartoons, role play and games) be initially used by the field workers and partner organisations of Ahead along with the school teachers.

20 July 2012

Visit to Eknath Madhyamik Shiksha Kendra, Putimari. 1.30pm.

Meeting with school staff: The school, working with Ahead Initiatives for the last 2 years, had a large playing field, a vegetable garden and 2 large buildings with close to 200 students (classes v-viii) but only 5 teachers, no electricity. After class VIII, students move to the closest school 2.5 km away, though many female students dropout at this stage because of early marriage. At harvest time, male students work in the field and there is a lot of absenteeism. Teachers said the common cause for absenteeism was cold, fever and headache though stomach ailments may actually be the cause( related to the quality of water in the area) but the students felt shy to say so; Head reeling among girls was also common, perhaps a sign of anaemia. The free iron and vitamin supplement supply from the govt. was however being regularly received and distributed.

 The school had a kitchen garden and the women’s’ self help group managed the garden and the kitchen which provided the daily mid day meal.

Programme with students: 2.30pm:  

·         5 min long Brazilian film “The boy, the slum and the pan lids”: football game, need for energy and food.  Discussed what they ate at mealtimes: rice, rice and more rice!

·         a 2 min cartoon “Sunny day”: We get our energy from food, where do vegetables get their energy from? The students answered in unison: from the soil and the Sun.

·         Need to eat carrots for fighting night blindness followed by a cartoon on Carrots.

·         Power point about Poltu, a young boy talking in Bangla about what he likes/dislikes eating after which students filled in orally an onscreen worksheet on what they eat through the day. Some ate chattu( Maize flour) or muri( puffed rice) and milk but majority ate Sheddho bhat ( sticky rice with vegetables) before they came to school, then rice, dal and mixed vegetables( labra) at the mid day meal and again rice and vegetables at night or roti/milk. (The women’s group later said some don’t eat the school meal so eat rice again when they return from school.)

·         The word grid on screen was filled by students identifying certain vegetable names. This game helps learn about useful vegetables as well as correct spellings.

·         The next activity was a role play in which 6 students were given a brief about a boy who falls ill often as he doesn’t eat well and how he changes with advice from friends. The students enjoyed this and performed well given they had only a few minutes to plan and rehearse.

·         While the 6 rehearsed, the others were involved in a physical game providing information as well as movement to remove ennui of sitting still. A few children enacted different layers of a forest: the ground, the shrubs, canopy, etc  while others discussed what grew in each layer, the part of the plant it was and its use:  for example, bottom layer, potatoes, carrots, saag, and their uses; canopy has fruits like guava, mango, papaya and related vitamins.

·         The next film was a short Hindi cartoon “Thinny Mini” about a thin boy who falls ill as he doesn’t eat fruits followed by a Bangla Rhyme on the different fruits one can eat and how it helps the body fight disease.

·         The session ended with “A Gopher story”, cartoon about a gopher who tries desperately to steal fruit and vegetables off trucks on the highway and each time he is beaten by other animals. This was well enjoyed by even the primary students who had trooped in by then.  The session ended by telling them to stay well, eat well and keep enjoying coming to school.

Programme with women’s group: 4.00 pm:   The women’s group who tend to the kitchen garden and also cook the school meal were then met with. Discussions ranged from daily routine, meals, children’s’ illnesses, their own illnesses, fruits and vegetables locally available and what is grown in the garden. No chemical fertilizers or pesticides are used in the 2 year old venture and seasonal vegetables like spinach (saag)pumpkin (kumro), lady’s finger (Bhindi), string bean (borboti) are grown. It was suggested to begin composting too with the vegetable scraps. Though maize (bhutta) grows here it is not eaten but used as cattle fodder. Jackfruit and papaya trees are also abundant but the unripe fruit of the jackfruit ( echor) is not eaten, and the ripe fruit eaten rarely. Same for the unripe fruit of the papaya and banana; they are eaten in most households in Bengal but here only if the children suffer from dysentery. The need for iron in women was emphasised and the group told to eat these high iron foods. This suggestion was met with sceptical laughter. Perhaps some recipes on how they could use these fruits for their own health can be given.

20 July 2012

Visit to Uttar Putimari,Joraharimnadir.

Programme with women’s group: 10am: Discussions ranged from daily routine, meals, illnesses, fruits and vegetables locally available. Since they all toil in the fields they feel the need to get energy hence eat rice 4 times a day. The rice is sometimes eaten with dried fish( shutki) or with dal and boiled potatoes for the morning meal. Mid day they eat rice dal and mixed vegetables and in the evening rice again. Other issues were spurious medicine, self medication, need for drinking water, and the role of the mother in developing right eating habits.  An allegorical tale of the tongue being more favoured than the stomach was told and the ladies requested to think of what harm was being done to the stomach by eating food favoured by the tongue ( spicy, oily food)! Women here were very cooperative, communicative and open to suggestion. Some spoke of how they used less oil and used boiled vegetables regularly while others spoke of how they cooked raw jackfruit ( echor) and how popular it was with their children as it tasted like mutton if cooked well. The food habits seemed a bit different from the earlier group and the meeting ended on a positive note with the women promising to work together towards building a healthier village.

Visit to Charakpar Laxmikanta Madhyamik Shiksha Kendra, Patchara.

Meeting with school staff: 130pm: The school was smaller than the one visited earlier in terms of area and student strength and had about 100 students. After class VIII, here too students move to the nearest school, at Saheberhat, nearly 3 km away. No place for vegetable garden but the school is open to the idea.. When asked why they didn’t serve saag and papaya and other nutritious locally available material, one of the young helpers revealed that though eaten at home, if saag was served in school the parents would object as they felt the school was getting away with serving locally available weeds!!! One needs to include the parents in this awareness programme as well.

Programme with students: 1.30pm:   The children participated as enthusiastically in the discussions and games and enjoyed the films which, was a rare treat for them.

Programme with women’s group: 430pm: The women of this group were a little more urbanised than the earlier 2 groups met , perhaps being closer to the town, living along the main highway. They were well turned out and wearing slippers while the village groups had come directly from the fields and most were bare footed. Expecting a cinema show, the group was disappointed as we were not able to show a film but the discussion was fruitful. Dried fish or shutki was popular here too as was the ‘gas’ problem, so we told them about spurious medicines, eating healthy and drinking water and most important to lead by example for their children to develop healthy eating habits.

 Each area seemed to have a favourite fried snack available with their local grocer which the children enjoyed after school: in Putimari, it was “baro bhaja a mixture of 12 fried ingredients, in Patchara it was kathi bhaja similar to the bhujia we get in the city and in the Primary school on the main road it was a mix of lethal looking pickles and kurkure all for a Rupee each.

Visit to 3 households near Ahead field office:  Pramila Barman, 25 years old, with 3 children (10, 7 and 3) husband drives a cycle van (nearly 30km to Coochbehar town) ferrying things from the town to the village. The staple diet for them too is rice for all meals and though she had a kitchen garden of bitter gourd, lady’s finger, papaya, these were for selling. Her children occasionally eat muri and milk as they have 2 cows. On asking whether they ate corn, she replied that that was for feeding the ‘Chasi goru” (“Jersey cow?”)! A banana plant was also found in her compound and she said they occasionally ate ripe mango, papaya and banana, eating the raw ones only when ill.

Pramila’s neighbour was an older woman who lived in a single room. She worked the fields with her husband and didn’t own cattle, trees or land. Their subsistence meal too was rice and didn’t eat the locally available dheki saag (wild fern) or paat saag ( leaves of a plant resembling jute hence the name) as these gave one body ache and as a daily wage earner she could not afford to fall sick! She suffered from weakness and giddiness. Children also ate only rice, dried fish and the occasional vegetable when found. Fish also was a rarity as the old lady who lived opposite said, even the waters were poisoned with chemicals and fish, ducks, and livestock were all living shorter life spans.

Min Rani Burman, 35, was a sickly looking but hospitable lady. Her husband Vijay Burman worked in Bhutan as a mason and they had 2 daughters, one in college and the other in class VIII. It was interesting to note, that perhaps because her husband worked outside their home was a bit larger and they had planted teak, papaya, banana, jackfruit, and gourd and we thought that at last we were meeting a family which ate a balanced meal. However, here too, the diet was similar to the others and though there was variety in terms of puffed rice instead of rice for some meals, vegetables and fruits though readily available were not part of their daily diet.

Visit to local market at Coochbehar: the market was similar to any Sunday morning market in the country, bustling, hot and sweaty. Here, prices didn’t seem a deterent to buying vegetables though the most abundantly available item seemed varieties of yam( Kochu). We also found different types of green leafy saag: Lal, pui, dheki and paat saag. Pumpkin flower was also being sold and there were two different kinds of potato also: Badami aloo and gaach alu, which seemed to be local variants as neither of us had seen them before.

Our short trip at an end, we realised that through this we had got an insight into local food habits and the receptivity of the children to Bichitra pathshala’s method of using films as a medium of teaching.

No comments:

Post a Comment