My Projects at Chintan

Since Abby gave a little background on Chintan in her first post I
thought I would tell you all about my specific projects here. My
first project is with No Child in Trash (NCiT). As stated in my
project book I am supposed to “create a strategic plan and road map
for building a movement to ensure no child picks trash in Delhi. The
internship will require mapping out the various stakeholders- the
government, other NGOs and donors, and their work, identify interest
in the idea, outline a plan with indicators and resources and help set
up a meeting with stakeholders to share the plan and kick start the
process.” As stated it’s a bit broad, but basically I’ll have two
major deliverables; the first is a directory of other Delhi NGOs
working on education and underprivileged children, the second is a
teacher’s handbook with different methods and styles for teaching in
the very challenging slum environment. My second project is to “help
create a new system of evaluating Chintan’s staff in a fair manner
that takes into account several factors such as their participation in
the larger organization, leadership, initiative etc… beyond their
programmatic means. The current system does not take into account
these as well as is not based on records throughout the year of good
work done.” This one is a bit more clear and within my expertise. I
mean I’ve never run a company so I have no real idea of how I would
want my employees to be evaluated, but I feel like this is something
that we talk a lot about at Wharton, and I should be able to handle
it. Also, Chintan currently keeps very minimal record of employee
achievement, so even the smallest improvement to their system has the
potential to make a big change within the organization.
On Thursday I spent my day in the field at the Chintan School in the
Nizamuddin area of Delhi. Hopefully I’ll be spending at least one day
a week there to observe the students, teachers, parents and their day
to day interactions in order to make my second project more
successful. Below are some notes I made on my observations there along
with my own brainstorming of solutions.
20 students age 4-13 (?) 1 teacher
The class was doing work for formal school or an assignment given by
the teacher when I arrived. There were no printed or set assignments
from the teacher. She writes on a piece of paper to write out numbers
like 1-30 or letters etc… She probably does not have access to a
computer. As far as I understand there are training meetings monthly
for teachers (?) materials could be distributed then. It is hard to
assess the quality of the class because the students are so distracted
by my presence. It seems difficult for the teacher to keep the
attention of the entire class although the room is small. They enjoy
the games that teach numbers, and the girls love to dance. This is
probably the best way to teach them. Observing a lesson plan this
afternoon will give me more insight on the efficacy of the current
methods of teaching. The boys seem to be more distracted than the
girls. They also all seem to sit up front. I don’t know if that’s just
a fluke or something the teacher has required. It would probably be
best to separate the boys and girls but that may be impossible here.
The teacher speaks only elementary English. The only disciplinary
methods seem to be yelling. They do use a clapping to quiet the
children. The teacher went on the regular two home visits to speak
with parents whose children are regularly in class. The only problem
is that they are often late, which means they miss the lesson. The
parents said the children have a TV which they watch late at night.
They also don’t eat well. The parents give them money instead of food
which they spend on junk food etc… The parents also said they find it
hard to make the children do homework because they are not educated
and can’t properly check over it, but Guarav said that they could
still enforce homework even though they are uneducated they are still
parents. Overall the class was very hectic and disorganized.

One thought on “My Projects at Chintan

  1. Laura,Your projects sound really interesting. I hope the scope narrows on the first one — how can one Penn intern (no matter how brilliant) solve the problem of poor children picking trash when the country itself can’t seem to do it? I have noticed a unique attitude here toward trash and litter — it seems to be understood that the place to throw down trash is the street, ditch, or ground somewhere, with the expectation that at some point "someone" will come along and pick it up. I have not seen public waste containers in evidence, nor does there seem to be any effort to sort recyclables at the start of the process, rather everything is mixed together and then picked/sorted at the end. I know this sounds very abstract, but the concept of trash just seems to be different here. Anyway, keep up the good work! The school visits sound fun. Hope you and Abby are managing in the heat.Clare

  2. You seem to be getting a real feel for some of the issues involved with working children. Have you been able to learn from other organizations that are providing alternative education/classes for other types of working children? Action songs are a great way to connect with children even in English. I highly recommend you share some from your childhood if you get the opportunity. The itsy-bitsy spider is surely one of my favorites.And Clare, indeed you are right, waste management has a long way to go in India. The issue I have always considered two fold: attitude and infrastructure. Laura, is Chintan working at all to help change the mindset of Delhi citizens when it comes to disposing trash?

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About Laura

Wharton Class of 2013 with concentrations in Business and Public Policy and Operations and Information Management. I was a 2011 CASI Intern at Chintan in New Delhi. Now I am an Economic Consultant at Berkeley Research Group in Washington, DC.