Support for children from disadvantaged backgrounds is centered around CRS’s education centres. There are currently 9 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.
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 enrol in state schools and CRS facilitates the application process.
As with many things, the COVID-19 pandemic prompted a reconsideration of the way CRS activities were delivered. A project was launched to encourage the use of smartphones to deliver classes to the children, and this has proved extremely successful. To this day, many classes are delivered online meaning physical distance is no longer a barrier to certain children taking part.
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.
Shishu Jagat (Children’s World) is a club run by children; there are currently 7 Shishu Jagat clubs in operation at GB Lane, BD Colony, Sukantnanagar, Topsia, Bibibagan, Hastings and Dum Dum. They organise a range of activities which develop skills of teamwork and leadership, and improve their community and its environment.
Health and wellbeing
There are health clinics held monthly at each centre, with support provided for medication and treatment when necessary. Children also take part in awareness programmes on issues relating to health and hygiene. See Health page for more details.
Many of the centres provide children with a hot midday meal to supplement their nutrition.
Sport and fitness
Football teams have been established at several 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 an annual sports day or children participate in sports days at other locations.
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.
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 enrolment, health care and cleanliness. Girls are given the same education as boys and given equal opportunities to learn and develop skills.
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 and expand premises including a new combined school and community centre constructed in Brace Bridge, one of the most deprived project locations.
CRS supports the teachers with regular training and skills development. Over the past few years, a growing partnership with teachers from Derby in the UK has introduced CRS teachers to new teaching resources and methods.
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.