PAYING ATTENTION TO LEARNING (PAL)

Objective

  • To set up resource rooms for children who cannot cope in mainstream schools. A resource room is a particular room or space identified within the school premises wherein a specially trained teacher/teachers will provide a learning environment catering to the different needs of these children.
  • To train teachers to run the resource rooms.
  • To develop an inclusive, flexible curricular package for children in middle school (Std V to VII) including pre vocational/vocational subjects that may be used for children attending the resource rooms.
  • Develop language as a medium of communication, learning and creativity for children from Std I to Std VII to be used in the resource rooms. Obtain Government sanction for concessions at examinations for children with learning difficulties at the board level.
  • Advocacy for a vocational stream at SSC level. Network with all concerned organizations working towards implementing Government schemes like Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (Providing elementary education for all children from age 6 to 14) and the Goa Government Special Need scheme that is working towards providing for children who are differently abled

Our Mission

To make all children welcome in schools irrespective of their academic ability.To ensure real learning for all children in mainstream schools. To ensure all children experience achievement. To prevent school drop out.
Every year thousands of children worldwide suffer the consequences of having a learning disability – these effects range from loss of self esteem to school drop-out.

Learning disabilities present with scholastic difficulties and analysis of Sangath data has revealed that one third of the children referred to the centre show school problems.

Background

The Sangath Society for Child Development and Family Guidance has been working in the field of child and family mental health in Goa for the past eight years. It was found that 30% of children coming to Sangath had scholastic difficulties. This was of great concern, especially when the drop out rate from primary to high school in Goa is 40%. Furthermore, children who underachieve at school and/or drop out often engage in anti-social activities and are unable to reach their potential.

The ‘Paying Attention to Learning’ Project, funded by Sir Dorabji Tata Trust, Mumbai, was started in 2002 with the aim of identifying and helping children with learning difficulties who were at risk of failing school, dropping out or who were generally unable to learn at the pace of their peers in class. We set up a learning centre at Sangath and resource rooms within 2 schools with specially trained teachers. In addition to providing facilities for assessment and an array of therapeutic techniques, we started creating awareness, training teachers throughout Goa in remedial education techniques, and facilitating changes in the education system that would recognize that all children have the right to learn.

We hope to continue our work by introducing an altered text for children with learning difficulties and have already begun using this in the two resource rooms we have created. We would also like to set up more resource rooms within schools based on an improved model that we are currently working on. This model resource room will include specially trained remedial teachers who will teach children through an inclusive, flexible curriculum based on the regular text books.

During the last three years we have learned much about how to best help children with learning difficulties, from an individual perspective to a wider perspective of government and policy. We are very pleased to have seen so many children benefit from our services. However, we do understand that this has been just one small step on the long road to ensuring that ALL children learn and are looking forward to the journey ahead.