Arpan Mukhopadhyay Memorial Trust (AMMT), registered in 2009, is a non-profit Charitable Trust which works with primary school children from socio-economically disadvantaged households. It was started in the memory of Arpan Mukhopadhyay,better known as ‘Ali’, who passed away at the tender age of twenty leaving a large number of paintings behind him. Arpan happened to be dyslexic. AMMT’s work program is based on research findings from around the world which suggest that in the absence of informed and sensitive management, even mild cases of LD’s can degenerate into full blown affliction. Worse still, bad pedagogy, insensitive management and poor socio-economic environments — all of which is prevalent in ample measure in our educational scenario for the poor —- generate LD-like symptoms in ‘normal’ children. The majority of primary school children in these schools are designated as ‘na –layeks’ and treated as such.
Arpan Mukhopadhyay Memorial Trust (AMMT) was registered in 2009 in the memory of Arpan, nicknamed Ali, who passed away in 1999 at the tender age of twenty. He left behind a large number of paintings put together in a book titled ‘Ali’s World’ (Roli Books 2008). Arpan happened to be dyslexic.
AMMT’s field level activities started in 2012 inside state- run schools in poor neighborhoods of East Delhi. We started with awareness-generation programs for teachers and parents on neurological Learning Disabilities (LDs) among school children which have no overt physical manifestations. We were startled to learn from teachers in every single school we had visited that more than half of the children attending their schools had symptoms of LD. They were universally referred to by teachers as “Na-Layeks”. We were requested by school authorities to take on the challenge of ‘teaching’ these children. We accepted the challenge, and for over two years, every day, we handled these children in two primary schools run by the East Delhi Municipal Corporation.
Much as we had wanted to work inside government schools, the complex hierarchies and multiple problems or working inside the government structure bore us down. In January 2015 AMMT started its own remedial school, ANANDA, in East Delhi for our beloved ‘na-layeks’. By that time we knew that while a small fraction of these kids may have neurological problems, all children were victims of inordinately bad pedagogy. What was sorely needed was an overhaul of teaching methods.
Quality education for all children, especially for those from disadvantaged households, and those afflicted by Learning Disabilities.
The first priority for us at AMMT is to create a joyful and creative learning environment and to boost the self confidence of children. The vision is to develop ANANDA as a model for such joyful and productive learning.
One of the defining characteristics of ANANDA is that we are constantly trying out new things, some of which has become part of our daily routine. One of them is the SLU (Slow Learner Unit) inside ANANDA which has been operational for over a year and a half now. Currently there are 12 children identified by our teachers to be at the lower end of spectrum of ‘learning abilities’ in the SLU, who are given additional time and effort by our teachers every day. For us it is easier to ‘teach’ them because the pedagogic methods adopted in the SLU are qualitatively similar to those that are used in the general classes. This has the double benefit of easier integration. We can see that the Maths KIT developed by IDEK, courtesy LetsEndorse, will fall in the same category.