At Manzil, an open learning centre for children at Khan Market, New Delhi, 12 student-teachers coach 90 other students in mathematics, English and computers everyday. The students and teachers are underprivileged children, mentally challenged children and students or dropouts from government schools in the locality. Their parents generally serve in the upper-middle class homes of Khan Market as gardeners, cooks and maids.
Initially, Ravi Gulati, initiator of the Manzil resource/support centre, taught English and math to a few students who came to him for guidance. The group gradually grew and a system of give and take evolved among the students, with the old students teaching the new ones. The whole system was voluntary and grew on its own. Manzil plays an important part in the lives of the children, providing mentorship, guidance, counseling and an active involvement in productive work. This has kept them away from negative influences and gotten them thinking about larger issues such as education, values and attitudes, the environment, health consciousness, discipline, etcetera.
The children at Manzil like the fact that they are treated as individuals and are encouraged to think independently. Many cultural, social and explorative activities take place at Manzil. Achievers and professionals regularly come to the centre to share their experiences. The children also visit places like the local trade fairs, the National Science Centre, Book Fairs, and the Nehru Planetarium. A theatre workshop based on the National School of Drama’s Theatre in Education programme is also regularly organised at Manzil.
Now, besides the centre at Khan Market, in Gulati’s home, there is another centre at Kotla Mubarakpur. This one is involved in preschool education, adult education and parental counseling. In the preschool educational programme, about 40 children aged 2-5 are taught the formal concepts of colour, shape, size, and numbers, and are introduced to pre-writing and pre-math concepts in a systematic way. There are activities for the physical, intellectual and creative growth of the children. In their initiatives for adult education, basic reading, writing and numerical skills are developed in youth aged 15-25. Skills like sewing and embroidery are taught for self-employment and income generation.
Counseling sessions are also regularly held for both normal and mentally challenged children. Assistance is given to students to find jobs and decide on careers. Many have now found full-time jobs much beyond their expectations. No money is taken from the students except for inconsistencies like coming late for class. Gulati has been funding all the activities entirely on his own. Ravi Gulati’s basic concerns have been the inequality between public and private school education in terms of quality, as well as cost.
"I have no formal qualifications in the field of education. Instead, I have an MBA from a premier Indian business school, IIM, Ahmedabad. But after I graduated from there over 10 years ago, I worked only 8 months in the corporate sector, indeed, in any formal sector (including development). The last 10 years of my life have been outside any kind of institution, self-made or otherwise, full of both unlearning and learning experiences, often not of my own making, that have contributed to my growth."
In the future, as Ravi moves away from active participation in Manzil, the real test of this initiative will be whether the close-knit family he has developed can continue to function as a self-supporting community. Ravi envisions more such community learning centres in other localities, cities and towns. Rather than initiating these himself, he would like them to grow on their own; organically and naturally.
Pankaj Sulodia / Ravi Gulati
Flat No 13,
Khan Market, New Delhi
Email: [email protected]
Web site (under construction)www.manzilindia.org
Page created on 8/27/2007 11:32:37 AM
Last edited 1/5/2017 7:26:31 PM