Ragpickers Education & Development Scheme (REDS)
- Parent Category: ECCD
REDS is a non-governmental organization established in 1978 that aims to support the child waste collector. Its primary objective in the 1970’s was to help street children who survived by waste picking. In 1984, a project with a focus on child welfare was initiated providing shelter, health and education. REDS tries to realise its objectives through three programmes -- Prevention which is slum-based, Re-integration which is street-based and Solid Waste Management which is community-based.
As part of the Prevention programme three non-formal education centres were started to enable children to get into the formal stream. However, REDS soon realized that an early introduction to schooling would help decrease the number of drop-outs; so in 1999 it started playschools. It runs 15 playschools in the slum areas of L.R. Nagar, Ejipura and Vinayakanagar with 240 children attending regularly. The playschools are open to children, 3-6 years, and are run daily from 10-12 pm. Teachers with a minimum qualification of 7th std are recruited and they conduct the session most often in their homes. Once a week the children are given a snack such as bread. REDS plans to introduce eggs and other nutritive foods also.
REDS trains its teachers by conducting workshops once a month where they are taught to make low-cost teaching aids. Each teacher makes one aid and during their weekly meeting, teachers circulate the teaching aids and discuss the curriculum for the week. REDS also uses other opportunities to train its teachers. In 2002, it sent 12 of its teachers to a two-day training programme for playschool teachers organized by the Promise Foundation at their model balwadi. Teachers were trained on how to use common household articles as effective teaching aids in playschools. It also sent its teachers to attend Promise Foundation’s Chilipili Mela at Cubbon Park where teachers could learn different ways to engage and attract children.
REDS is a member of the Bangalore Forum for Street and Working Children and attends their monthly meetings. It is also a member of the Campaign against Child Labour (CACL).
Apart from education, the playschool teacher is responsible to ensure that the children who attend her class are immunized. She also plays a role in guiding their families regarding issues such as nutrition and pre-natal care and ensuring that they attend the monthly mothers meetings. REDS has also participated in the government’s pulse polio programme.
In 2000, under the guidance of Sanjivini Trust, REDS conducted a nutrition education programme for mothers about protein deficiency and what foods they can give their children to counter it. This education continues today during the monthly mothers’ meetings. Education and primary health being the focus of its ECCD programme, REDS conducts monthly health check-ups for people of the community. With the introduction of playschools, corporation schools in the locality have reported fewer dropouts.
Among REDS resources are methods to make low-cost teaching aids, and the use of stick puppets as educational aids. It also has a strong team that puts together street plays on any pertinent issue.
In the near future, REDS plans to strengthen the playschool programme by creating a case history of every child enrolled. All details regarding education, immunization, and a growth chart will be recorded and the child’s progress once he/she joins the mainstream schools will be followed. It also plans to get the local neighbourhood around the slum to sponsor the playschool programme through the donation of their old newspapers. REDS welcomes help in the form of sponsors, medicines, old clothes and toys.