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NIRMAN

Education · Research · Arts
Hello readers,

2020 has come with many surprises for us, some pleasant, some not so much. In this newsletter, we share the steps we have taken as a precaution for COVID-19, talk about events at our school from the past month, showcase one of teachers' research, and give you a glimpse of our
café!
From the Director's Desk
Dear friends,

We do not need to go into the facts about Covid-19; we have had the time and curiousity to learn about it from the numerous sources available. At NIRMAN, we are as affected as everyone else by the limitations imposed by the virus and the restrictions we are all trying to impose on ourselves. But we are struck by it in particular ways as well. For instance, our philosophy has always stressed hands-on work and work in groups. In our classes we sit around a table instead of at separate desks facing front. We congregate on the floor to hear a story or work together for projects. Teachers and staff are asked to meet in groups periodically. A part of the agenda is theatre exercises in which we learn physical contact. Daily, we eat together, sit and work together, and travel typically in tightly packed vehicles. Except for the last (tightly packed vehicles,) we are proud of our culture. It is a sacrifice for us to replace it with work in isolation. What I want to emphasise, then, is the idea of ‘sacrifice.’ Everyone has to decide that that is the name of the game, and become comfortable, as someone put it, with discomfort. If we all do our separate, different share, however, we might be successful in making only small, and not bad, tragic sacrifices. The sacrifice of comfort, or companionship, or a preferred culture of work is not of consequence at a time of a pandemic.

Please try, therefore, to: first, think of those affected and wish them health and support. Two, do your share in following all the precise instructions available, specifically of social distancing and hand scrubbing. Three, do not indulge in politicking, cynicism disguised as humour, and unnecessary jibes at groups or individuals also disguised as humour. This is not the time to blame political parties or leaders, scientists or professionals, or exercise your wit at the expense of genuinely suffering people. I know that we cannot be sober all the time and a good laugh is a cure in itself. So, exercise discretion and quality control—and be happy and stay amused.

I like to think of the Titanic, that glamorous early 20th century liner that hit an iceberg. In a scene in the movie by that same name, the professional explains how water will flood different parts of the ship and at what pace, and that there is no recourse. Statistics about the coronavirus tell us that if nothing is done there would be a similar mathematical progression of affliction and mortality. But we are better off than the Titanic passengers because actually we could survive this epidemic and not all drown. Only if we each do our share and work as a team. This team is the population of our earth. I am glad to say that the NIRMAN team is doing its little share.

- Nita Kumar 
Director, NIRMAN
To ensure that our students stay engaged at home during these weeks of isolation, our teachers jumped into action and created worksheets to be handed out to the students. Parents were called over different time slots on the allotted day to pick up worksheets and packets for their children. To help spread awareness and to support parents and children during this time, we also created an awareness pamphlet, which also has tips on how parents can engage and communicate with children at home.

You can download it here. Feel free to share widely! 
Events at Vidyashram - The Southpoint School
              Healthy Food Fair                              #FridaysForFuture Rally
The students and teachers of Southpoint organize a ‘Healthy Food and Crafts Fair’ annually.

This year, on 22nd February 2020, the students made various delicacies like Katori Chat, Besan ka Laddu, Fruit Chat, Lemonade, Sprouts, and some parents too brought interesting recipes like Mexican Quesadillas and Malpua. 

Students also made craft items from recycled materials like photo frames, pen stands, diaries, for sale. They also put up games stalls from recycled material. 

Through this event, our students learnt about the health benefits of different ingredients and cooking methods. Not only that, they learn the making of a small business, working in teams and add various marketing and sales tricks to their skill-set. 

Promoting entrepreneurial skills in our students, the healthy food fair was a fun day for one and all!
This year, we became the first school in Varanasi to organize a Fridays for Future campaign, with a group from Kristinehamns Folkhogskola KPS, a school which belongs to the folk high school system in Sweden.

The students of this school come to our school every year, for an educational project and intercultural exchange. This year, the group of students with their leader Brita and our students of classes 5 and 6, worked in groups to discuss the present challenges that our planet faces. 

They organized a rally in solidarity with the #FridaysforFuture Movement promoted by climate change student activist, Greta Thunberg, to raise awareness about the consumption of plastic and the harm it causes to the planet we all inhabit.

This rally was organized in the village Gangpur, near our riverside campus in Betawar, Varanasi.
Research in Education
Recently, one of our teachers' research work was published in the Early Literacy Initiative's Practitioner's Brief. Riya co-authors this paper with her mentor, Shailaja Menon and writes about how mother tongue can be used to teach English to students in low exposure settings. This research was based in Palghar district, Maharashtra. 

Her interest in English language pedagogy and library management brought Riya to work with us at NIRMAN. Here, she teaches English to our students in primary and middle school.
We congratulate Riya on her publication! You can click here to read the paper.
The Southpoint Café
When the COVID-19 outbreak is under control and it is safe to frequent public places again, we invite you to visit The Southpoint Café, a quaint café located in Nagwa, right next to our school. Come by for a hot cup of tea and browse our bookshelves for something you'd like to read. You can also buy and take home books if you'd like! In the meantime, we are taking orders for our delicious snacks and cakes to help you tide over the long days and many meals at home.

Do ask for the daily special and dig into freshly baked homemade cakes, pies and cookies, made from scratch by our kitchen staff. Our chef-didis have been trained to cook local and international food in our kitchen. They are also trained in managing and running the
café.

This is one of the ways by which NIRMAN supports the neighbourhood community. We also invite you to host small group meetings and events here. Every rupee you spend at The Southpoint 
Café goes towards improving education in India. 

So walk in through our doors, for good food, books and conversations.

Do follow our facebook page for more updates.
Want to read more about NIRMAN's work? Subscribe to our blog!
We are accepting admissions for 2020-21! Click to view our admission brochure.
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NIRMAN · N-1/70 Nagwa · Varanasi 221005 · India

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