Comic books helped these students win back self-confidence in many U.P. schools!
Self-esteem based life skills education classes were introduced in government schools in 20 districts of Uttar Pradesh around six months ago in which a set of comic books has been developed and weekly classes are held on the various themes related to personality development
Rupanshi, a student of class 8 in Malihabad, was conscious of her body and looks. Her brothers would always call her ‘fat’ and this made her diffident. She would hesitate in meeting people and felt that she wasn’t beautiful and no one liked her. Today, she is a leader. Confident, bold and ready to take up challenges, Rupanshi is an inspiration for everyone in her family now.
Nandini, a native of Lakhimpur Kheri, was a school dropout. Her father, a farmer, got her enrolled back in school. But, remaining out of school for some time impacted her confidence. She was an introvert and had no friends in school. But, Nandini is now an active girl. She participates in singing, dancing and enjoys the company of her friends in school.
For Nandini, Rupanshi and many more children of government upper primary, composite schools and Kasturba Gandhi Vidalayas in Uttar Pradesh, self-esteem classes have worked like a magic wand and have brought about a major change in their personality.
Self-esteem based life skills education classes were introduced in government schools in 20 districts of Uttar Pradesh around six months ago. As part of this initiative of the ‘Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan Uttar Pradesh’, a set of comic books has been developed and weekly classes are held on the various themes related to personality development.
Children are made to do roleplays using the comic books and this has a deep impact on their minds. The sessions help children come out of the stereotypical mindset and they, in turn, go out in their community as ambassadors of self-confidence.
“The comic books are so powerful that while doing roleplays, children often feel that the stories are related to their real lives and that whatever is being enacted during the classes is their own story. So, the message hits them hard and the change is visible among many children,” said master trainer Naveen Kumar, a teacher at upper primary school Jangipurva, Balrampur.
Some children have liked the activities so much that they have brought it into their behaviour and this has led their parents to enquire about it from school. The school has organised sessions with parents to make them aware and these deliberations have succeeded in bringing about a change in the behaviour of the parents.
“Research has shown the positive correlation between self-esteem and increased attendance levels, enhanced classroom behaviour, and improved academic achievement. Positive self-esteem also contributes to the development of life skills, enhancing children and adolescents’ leadership and other soft skills. It was with this view that this initiative was started,” said a senior resource person from Samarga Shiksha.
A training of master trainers (select government school teachers) was conducted by SIEMAT and these trainers, in turn, trained the teachers who now conduct the weekly classes.
“There are a number of issues that children don’t discuss in schools but they have an impact on their mind. Body shaming, gender discrimination, definition of masculinity among school boys are some topics that needed attention and I am glad we are able to touch upon all these issues during our Saturday classes,” said Kanchan Pathak, a teacher at upper primary school Garhi Chunauti, and also a master trainer for the programme.
The teachers are hopeful that the initiative will not only help build body confidence and self-esteem but also contribute to children’s retention, transition and completion of the education cycle, enabling them to gain the skills needed to succeed in school, work and life.
A student of KGBV, Malihabad, Rupanshi said, “Reading comic story books helped me overcome many of my personality-related problems. Self-esteem stories that were taught in school were presented interestingly through activities via roleplay. It encouraged me so much that I also participate in those activities. Apart from my parents, I have two elder brothers and a sister. After reading stories, I was able to tell everyone in my family and community that boys and girls are equal. Reading stories makes us feel as if they are our own story.”
Nandini, another girl student who was enrolled in KGBV, Malihabad, said she Nandini did not want to come to school. “My teacher somehow managed to bring me to school. Even then I used to remain very silent and shy. All teachers tried their best but there was no change my approach. One day under the self-esteem programme, I was asked to read a comic book and was encouraged to take part in a drama in which the role of “Tara” was given to me. I read the comic book and also did roleplay on the comic character. It has brought about a change in my approach. Now, I speak freely to everyone, sing, dance and participate in every activity with other girls also and read all the comics,” she added. Now every Saturday, Nandani herself prepares a roleplay related to every comic. The good effect of comic books is quite visible in her.