Apli Shala: a bridge between home and school

Apli Shala (Our School)

A hut of clay and wattles-- once a common sight in the Apli Shala locality

The work of the PSS began in the Dalit area of Phaltan town as a literacy class for out-of-school children. Gradually the focus changed to enrolling such children in school, helping them to stay in school and succeed there.

The enrollment effort included conducting surveys to identify school-age children, helping parents to procure admission forms and birth certificates, and providing school supplies.

In order to help the children enrolled in school, supplementary classes for standards one to seven were started, along with two balwadis (pre-primary classes). Recognizing that the health of the child and the parents was crucial factor in school retention, we also provided medical assistance when necessary. This program was given the name Apli Shala ("Our School").

The Apli Shala program today runs two balwadis and supplementary classes from standard one to seven in the Dalit area of Mangalwar Peth.

The balwadis, which have children in the age of three to six, provide a well- rounded pre-school education. In the last year of the balwadi, reading and writing readiness skills are taught so that children are well prepared to enter the first standard of the municipal school.

The supplementary classes meet every day from Monday to Friday, two hours a day for each standard. Their timings vary with the timings of the municipal schools. These classes offer a rich and varied program, including art, music, games and trips along with reading, writing and arithmetic.

A class in sewing and literacy is held every afternoon for women and young girls who have dropped out of school.

We have also started a birth and death registration service at Apli Shala, where we note all new births and deaths in Mangalwar Peth. Staff members visit the homes, fill up the necessary forms and guide people to the municipal offices where the births and deaths are officially registered.

The activities of Apli Shala are spread over two locations: the old center, a renovated dharmashala (pilgrim center) which we have on nominal rent from the municipality; and the new center, an attractive building built several

years ago with funds from the Karuna Trust and the National Educational Group (a subsidiary of Misereor). Land for the center was given to PSS by the Phaltan municipality on a 33-year lease.



New Apli Shala center

Giving individual instruction in balwadi class

Supplementary class