Support for children from underprivileged backgrounds is centered around CRS’s Education Centres; there are currently 8 urban centres and 4 rural centres catering for almost 900 children across pre-primary and primary ages from 2 to 12 years. CRS provides trained teachers and teaching materials while the local partner organisation is responsible for providing premises.
Education – The primary focus is to build core skills to prepare children for formal schooling. They are taught subjects such as Bengali, English and maths. Each year several hundred children are deemed ready to enroll in state schools and CRS facilitates the application process.
Working children – The centre at Topsia focuses on providing support for children who work as rag pickers. Some have never attended school or are drop-outs so they are given tuition; others are given vocational training in skills that will enable them to earn a living. See Tiljala page for more details.
Creativity – Children are encouraged to express themselves and develop talents though activities such as dance and music, art and drawing. Special summer camps often focus on creative activities.
Teamwork – Shishu Jagat (Children’s World) is a club run by children; there are currently 3 Shishu Jagat clubs in operation at Sukantanagar, BDColony and Dum Dum. They organise a range of activities which develop skills of teamwork and leadership, and improve their community and its environment. See News stories page for some examples.
Health and well-being – Children are given fortnightly health checks with support for medication and treatment available where necessary. They also take part in awareness programmes on issues relating to health and hygiene. A counselling programme is available for children who suffer from abuse or neglect. See Health page for more details.
Nutrition – Many of the centres provide children with a hot midday meal to supplement their nutrition.
Sport and fitness – Football teams have been established at 4 of the Education Centres. Boys enjoy regular training sessions with a coach and play matches against teams from other Centres. See Football page for more details. Many centres hold and annual sports day or children participate in sports days at other locations. Children at the Dum Dum centre enjoy yoga classes.
Excursions and events – From time to time the children are taken on trips to museums or theme parks where they can enjoy having fun and simply being children. Children from CRS Education Centres are also selected for cultural, sporting or celebratory events where they join children from many other NGO projects.
Changing attitudes – Regular parent-teacher meetings allow parents to see their child’s progress and understand the importance of education. Sessions for all parents focus on issues such as regular attendance, mainstreaming and new enrollment, health care and cleanliness. Girls are given the same education as boys and given equal opportunities to learn and develop skills.
Future-planning – Children are encouraged to open their own bank accounts and pay small amounts into savings schemes as a first step towards independence.
Buildings and facilities – In some cases the premises provided by the local partner organisation for the Education Centre – single rooms built from corrugated iron or mud and thatch – have proved inadequate both for the number of students and for withstanding the annual monsoons. Money raised by CRS supporters has been used to upgrade facilities in a number of schools including a new roof at Dum Dum, a concrete building at Basanti Devi Colony, and a second floor and toilets at Gobinda Banerjee Lane.
Teacher training – CRS supports the teachers with regular training and skills development including a Communicative English course.
CRS Education Centres have been a tremendous success with thousands of children passing through them over the years. Your support can help many more children to have opportunities that their parents and grandparents could never have imagined.