Instituted in 2005, the Vasantshala (‘Vasant’ stands for the spring season and ‘shala’ in Gujarati means ‘school’) at the Adivasi Academy was not planned as a school. The need to begin a residential centre came up as the schooling of such children was impaired, as their parents migrated to cities in search of seasonal.
Vasantshala offers mother-tongue and multi-lingual education to children. Tribal communities are multi-lingual and several studies have shown that mother-tongue education encourages creative and confident expression, clarity of comprehension and critical thinking and bilingual/multilingual proficiency enhances cognitive growth, social tolerance, divergent thinking and critical abilities.
Vasantshala gives primacy to orality and the cultural traditions of tribal communities in its educational curriculum and teaching-learning processes. Stories, poems, songs and theatre link children to their cultural heritage and also give them an opportunity to understand from experience and develop sensitivity and respect for diverse cultures.
Language cuts across school subjects and disciplines and is useful at not only the primary but at secondary, higher secondary and university levels and even beyond as life-skills, children are encouraged not merely to learn terminology but to understand the concepts and be able to discuss and write about these critically.
The teaching methodology engages the natural and social environment of the children and is participative and discussion-oriented. At the same time, since the children need to meet with the requirements of mainstream education, Vasantshala includes the format of mainstream schooling to help children make an easy inter-cultural and inter-institutional transition.
The childhood stage is critical when the foundations are laid for life-long development and realization of the full potential of children, Vasantshala focuses not on studies alone but the all-round development of the children by focusing on the child’s interest and priorities. The environment at the Academy’s campus allows children to explore, innovate and express themselves freely. Gardening, playing, music, theatre, art and informal interaction are an important part of the curriculum. Children are also encouraged to be responsible for the cleanliness of their classrooms and place of stay, health and hygiene.
The assessment combines observations of teachers as well as grading. Participation, interest, level of involvement and the extent to which abilities, skills and comprehension have been honed are some of the markers that help the Vasantshala teachers to gauge the progress of the children.
OBJECTIVES OF VASANTSHALA
- To provide access to quality education to tribal children
- Bridge the learning gaps of out-of-school tribal children and help them attain age-appropriate learning levels
- Enroll children to Ashramshala’ s or Eklavya Model Residential schools at age-appropriate levels
- Ensure that children enrolled to formal schools do not pushed out again
- Design culturally and contextually relevant curriculum educational tools and pedagogies for tribal children that will also match the requirements of mainstream institutional schooling.