Night schools, or Balasahayog Kendra, cater to communities living either in hamlets or larger villages where children lack access to formal education facilities or cannot attend school during the day, but where communities are rich with traditional knowledge and culture.
Children are offered experiential learning. A children’s parliament is formed after holding elections and, in the process, the children learn about democracy. Each parliament has a prime minister and his or her cabinet. Each member of the parliament visits all Balasahayog Kendra twice a month. Barefoot College conducts three evaluations of the children’s progress per year: the first for teachers, the second for Barefoot College, and the third for other external organizations.
Additionally, there are regular, quarterly health checkups for the children. Puppet shows and films are regularly shown and local community members are invited to share their knowledge with the children. Barefoot College also organizes educational tours to expose the children to the external world. Tours include visits to cities in India, organizations and participation in global meetings.
Barefoot College now organizes teacher training and ensures the provision of basic materials such as solar lamps, water facilities and learning materials.
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CEI approaches in action
Barefoot College first holds a meeting in the village or hamlet where the program is to be implemented and selects a committee from the community, composed of 50% women and 50% men. The committee prepares a list of children from the community who are not currently attending day school and selects teachers capable of working with the children.
Founding date: 1975.
Growth data: 3 schools to 150 schools from 1975.
History of replication: the state government of Rajasthan accepted the idea and replicated it. Similarly, the governments of other states replicated the idea (but under a different name). However, after the Indian Right to Education act, the governments stopped the night schools and stated that all children should be in school during the day and that the government should provide education.
The number of students attending night schools has decreased since the program's inception.
When it started, there were only books, but now they also use increased technology and local community members. The curriculum has developed as well. The program also makes use of the government curriculum. They now involve the children more in monitoring and evaluation.
The program plans to expand within Rajasthan and to other states as well.
The program plans to make changes in its curriculum by including more activities relevant to the lives of the children, as well as more incorporating more technology.
Monitoring & Evaluation
Firstly, the school is monitored by the local village committee, then by the children’s parliament, and finally by the staff of the Barefoot College. The program is also at times monitored by external organizations.