Warwan Valley is a remote tehsil of Kishtwar district of Jammu which remains cut-off from the rest of the year for 6 months during winter. This region has neither electricity nor phone connectivity and lacks basic infrastructure like roads, hospitals and schools. The children are almost completely first generation learners and even teachers are not competent enough to teach. A baseline assessment of basic learning competencies in math and language revealed a dismal situation – even students of Class X couldn’t do basic subtraction nor read simple Class II texts.
In November 2016, CHINAR started an education initiative in Warwan to have community-run learning centres where the focus would exclusively be on improving learning competencies. We identified active community youth in the village of Mulwarwan and assigned them the responsibility to run classes during the winters. In the summer of 2017 we checked the progress of students but found that the improvement was inadequate. Furthermore, we identified one more village of Warwan (Margi) where we planned to expand the community learning initiative.
CHINAR conducted a 3-week residential training of 15 community volunteers of Warwan in Srinagar where we focused on improving their own competencies. We also gave them training on activity-based learning methods, better classroom management and effective teaching-learning techniques. We also set up Smart TVs in the two centers at Mulwarwan and Margi and provided these community volunteers with digital content to make classrooms more engaging. Thus, these volunteers will undertake a highly systematic intervention for the 5 winter months where focus will be exclusively on improving basic learning competencies in language and mathematics. Currently, we have nearly 500 children enrolled in these two community learning centres and the response is excellent.
A major intervention of CHINAR’s in Warwan was helping them in overcoming the digital barrier. We were the first to connect Warwan Valley to the online world after we set up a VSAT internet terminal in Mulwarwan. Our community volunteers are connected with us and using Smart TVs, are able to be virtually connected despite being physically disconnected. We are expecting a huge improvement in learning levels this time around.