Let's Start Art: Visual arts education in Govt Primary Schools
Let’s Start Art, by Shuruart Foundation, is a program to improve the literacy skills of children through visual arts. We work with a selected set of Government Primary Schools of Varanasi since 2017, focusing on the foundational literacy of children through Arts Education and Arts-Integrated Learning. We strive to provide quality education to these students by making learning an enjoyable and engaging experience, through ART.
Ankit is a student of class 4th at Govt Primary School, Sunderpur(2). He is a child with special needs who faces difficulties in reading and writing. During the first-ever Let’s Start Art session that he attended, we didn't realize he was a special child until he started to write his name. He wrote his name in question-mark-shaped symbols and started to draw the same symbols on the page where he was asked to draw, with both hands, as if he was writing in his language. Once he told us that he's done with the drawing, we tried to introduce him to his motor skills and asked him to use the colors he likes.
Later on, in our sessions, we started paying attention to Ankit without giving any forced instructions to him. With constant encouragement and the freedom that was introduced to him through art, by the end of the same year, he started making shapes in his drawings and coloring in patterns of his own.
According to Understanding Excellence in Arts Education, research by Project Zero, Harvard Graduate School of Education, there are multiple significant purposes of Art Education at the school level that are closely linked to the community and different learning contexts. The research articulates what students ought to learn from high-quality arts education, fall into seven broad goals.
- Foster broad dispositions and skills, especially the capacity to think creatively and the capacity to make connections.
- Teach artistic skills and techniques without making them primary.
- Develop aesthetic awareness.
- Provide ways of pursuing an understanding of the world.
- Help students engage with the community, civic, and social issues.
- Provide a venue for students to express themselves.
- Help students develop as individuals.
Through Let’s Start Art, Shuruart Foundation is trying to bring this quality of education to the economically disadvantaged children of Varanasi studying in Government Primary Schools. Let’s Start Art is running in these schools of Varanasi since the year 2017-18. Initially, we worked with 5 schools at different locations of the city, with around 180 students. In the academic year 2018-19, we expanded to reach out to 10 schools and made arts-education accessible to 350 students of Varanasi.
Following the same rigor, and with the kind support of our contributors, we were able to reach around 550 students from 15 government schools of Varanasi in the academic session 2019-20.
However, as the pandemic began to rise across the world, a nationwide lockdown was ordered in March 2020 to contain the spread of the virus. As a result, all the schools and educational institutions were also closed, exams were postponed and schools were advised to switch to remote learning for the time being, due to which Let’s Start Art was also on-hold. Although we tried to reach students through phone calls and the internet as per the availability, it was quite tough to engage with them in such conditions. After 12 months, the government has now ordered to open the schools for children from March 1st, and we are also ready to relaunch the Let’s Start Art with full throttle and reach 20 schools of Varanasi.
1. Art instructors, pursuing Bachelors or Masters in Fine Arts, will visit the schools fortnightly.
2. Students will be given topics from their textbooks to think and draw, that would help in bridging the gap in learning created due to the pandemic. Instructors will encourage an active discussion among the students for 15 to 20 minutes in every workshop, and try to ensure that every student takes away some lesson from the session.
3. After the interaction, the students are asked to draw. No instructions are given for drawing so that we can encourage the students to shape their thinking themselves, imagine, and relate their thoughts with the chapter/topic that is being discussed.
4. In the previous academic sessions, children of three schools have made murals on the premises of their school under the supervision of our art instructors (Government Primary schools at Bhadaini, Nagwa, and Orderly Bazaar). The objective of these murals is not only to inspire enthusiasm among children, but the murals are enlightening as well. By the end of the academic year 2021-22, we aim to make one mural in each school where we are active.
The National Education Policy suggests the adoption of experiential learning methods including arts-integrated learning and story-telling-based pedagogy as standard methods of teaching for all subjects (section 4.6). It explains Art-integrated learning as a cross-curricular pedagogical approach that can be used as the basis for learning concepts across subjects. The policy also acknowledges that Art-integrated education can help create joyful classrooms (Section 4.7), and result in a better teaching-learning experience.
Through Let’s Start Art, we aim to focus on similar goals. Students actively interact with our instructors without any pressure of assessment or judgment. Students not only learn to speak their minds but also learn to look at their surroundings with a new perspective and construct knowledge at their levels.
While we work for the children from government primary schools, Let’s Start Art sessions also work as an employment opportunity for the art instructors who work with us on a part-time basis. The remuneration they receive for art sessions helps them self-finance their education and practice their art.
The expense to conduct the art session in a school includes the cost of art supplies for the students, conveyance charges, administrative cost, and remuneration for the art instructors who guide the students. These art instructors are visual arts students pursuing Bachelor’s & Master’s program at Banaras Hindu University. These sessions help these emerging artists cover a part of their educational expenses while allowing them to develop a career as an art instructor. SHURUA(R)T FOUNDATION requests you to be a part of Let’s Start Art and contribute towards making quality education accessible for these children.
WHERE YOUR DONATION GOES
Monthly expense for conducting art sessions in 1 school (2 sessions per school):
a) Instructor's Remuneration: 3250 INR
b) Conveyance & other overheads: 700 INR
c) Art supplies: 910 INR (26 Rs/copy X 35 Students)
d) Contribution towards Mural: 1000 INR
e) Marketing and Outreach: 250 INR
f) Administrative (20 per cent of a+d+e): 900 INR
Total: 7,010 INR
Amount to be raised for 10 months
for 20 schools 14,02,000 INR
What the supporters would get:
- Monthly report of the sessions
- Regular updates through our Newsletter, Facebook, Twitter & Instagram of every session
IMPORTANT: Contributions are only accepted in Indian Rupees, INR.
Chief Executive Officer
Chandan Kumar Sahu