Balghars are preschools for the underprivileged children providing them a nurturing and educational environment to study ahead.
To ensure holistic growth and development, it is imperative that children have the right environment and nutrition right from the scratch. Children from the urban slums lack nutrition and an appropriate environment that prepares them for school learning. While working with the community in Juhpura, Ahmedbaad Saath noticed a lack of preschools in the area. There is a huge demand for affordable quality learning for holistic development of children in the era of completely commercialized education system.
Started in 2004, Saath’s Balghars are affordable preschools for the urban poor that address the basic growth and development needs of children like: basic education, health, nutritional and recreation. The curriculum is designed by child psychologists with the assistance of teachers and experts. The teachers are regularly kept abreast with latest trends through refresher training. These teachers also visit the homes of the students regularly for understanding the background of the child and updating parents on their progress. Parent – Teacher meetings are organised on regular basis too to provide continual feedback and also address any queries from the parents. The target impact groups for balghars are children between the age group of 3 to 5 years belonging to the socio – economically vulnerable section of society.
Saath has 7 Balghars in Juhapura and 1 Balghar in Vatva area of Ahmedabad. Since 2004, 3,279 children have passed through Balghars and after passing they have been enrolled in formal schools.
Mohd. Zaid was very weak when he joined the Balghar. He kept on crying in the class due to which his mother or elder sister had to sit in the class and keep him calm. As per Zaid’s mother, he was born as a healthy child, weighing 3.5 Kgs. During the time of birth. But, after one month to his birth he got an epilepsy fit while he was being given a bath by his grandmother. Earlier the family did not understand the reason behind this. But when this incident was repeated, Zaid’s parents took him to the hospital. And it was diagnosed that when the child cries continuously, he is unable to breathe properly due to which he suffers from an epileptic fit.
Also, during the lockdown Zaid’s father lost his job. It became difficult to sustain and feed a family of thirteen members. The teachers of Balghar supported them with ration kits. Zaid’s mother started working as a domestic helper in the nearby houses. Once the situation started becoming normal for the family, Zaid was admitted to the Balghar.
He started attending the class. He did not like to attend the class during the initial days. As suggested by the doctor, Zaid must not cry hard. Therefore, teachers provided extra attention to Zaid’s activities and interaction with other children. By the persistent efforts of the teachers, Zaid started participating in the classroom activities. The teachers fed me nutritious snacks and requested his parents to follow a proper diet routine towards Zaid. As a result of this there is an increase in the boy’s weight. He mingles with his fellow mates and loves to come to the classroom.
To reach out to children of other slum areas as well and also help the government in capacity building of their Aanganwadi’s.