The Chetan Study Centres are envisioned to provide a post school environment for children to learn. These centres are established in communities where Government and private schools are not adequate in providing the necessary learning environment needed for children to grow into leaders of tomorrow.
At these centres children from the communities are engaged, mentored and guided by global personalities who are willing to spare time every week over Skype. The mission of Lokalex is to establish, for the marginalized children an eco-system of global and local mentors, educational resources IT infrastructure, etc to facilitate their all-round development.
Lokalex has established around 9 centres in the districts of Tamil Nadu where sessions are held through Skype both during and after school hours.
Lokalex recently established a new Centre in at a Tribal School in Karnataka; located in Hosahalli, village in H.D Kote Taluk of Mysore, run by the Swami Vivekanandha Youth Movement (SVYM).
Hosahalli, being a remote village with poor accessibility, establishing internet connectivity was the biggest challenge. However with the help of the Centre for Social Computing and Information Society a wireless link was established between the SVYM Hospital (Surgur) and the Hosahalli School, which helped in successful installation of internet connectivity.
Lokalex has identified around 10 Kannada speaking mentors to interact with primary school children during school hours. Soft skills workshops, career counseling, teacher training programs and lectures are also organized for other students and staff over Skype.
Lokalex has been building a Community of volunteer Mentors, who interact with the children over Skype. Interactions take place either during or post school hours. Presently, there are 25 volunteers who have committed to invest an hour a day to a few hours a week for the sessions. Mentors are provided with a framework of guidelines and objectives and are given total freedom as to how they want to spend their time with the children. Each mentor is assigned to 3 to 4 children per session. The general expectation is that they would spend the time in the way they would with their own children.
Why don’t you become a Lokalex Mentor?
A Lokalex Mentor is one who interacts with school going children and has the satisfaction of seeing them blossom into chirpy, dynamic, ebullient kids that they always were at birth, before their school transformed them into docile children being scared, bored, confused and dull automatons. A Lokalex Mentor could be a High School or College Student, a Housewife, a working or retired professional/Expert in any field, a retired teacher or anyone who loves to interact with children and feel they can engage fruitfully with for mutual benefit. The engagement provides an opportunity for the mentor to play the role of a leader who strives to bring the best out of his/her protege and an opportunity for children to learn through interacting with adults.
A Lokalex Mentor interacts with children over Skype from the comfort of his/her home or workplace and facilitates a ‘vibrant learning environment’ for them. The Lokalex Mentor gets to know the 4 or 5 children assigned to him or her, builds trust and confidence in them, finds out their interests, their fantasies, their family back ground and encourages them to ask questions, get curious, discover things for themselves and makes the whole interaction fun filled for them.
Over the two years a general mentoring pattern has emerged where the session usually begins with Mentors assessing how the day went by for the children and whether there was any specific difficulty they encountered and if so any help is extended. But the focus is more on getting the child to talk about several other things, about their views on specific topics of interest, encouraging the child to ask questions, making them aware of general and personal hygiene, encouraging problem solving skills with help of gaming, puzzles, etc., telling stories, showing videos and animations and discussions on those and in general give the child an experience where he or she feels wanted , cared for and appreciated. The Mentors are also provided access to an ever growing repository of computer based resources which they can use while engaging with the children. They are also encouraged to add to these.
A Lokalex Mentor is expected to facilitate the learning experience of children along five tracks.
Confidence Building Track
These five tracks are put together in the form of a repository which contains videos, activities, games, articles etc which the mentors can use for their sessions. All mentors are provided with ID and password to access this information (Resources). This material is also made accessible to the children.
For each of these tracks, Lokalex will provide a Guidelines document to help Mentors with resources that they may need. Mentors are free to choose one or more or all tracks and/or team up with other mentors to facilitate the children. Mentors can be as flexible as they want in their approach while following the overall direction suggested in the Guidelines document.
A Lokalex Mentor can also add their own items, suggestion, methods, approaches, videos, or any other material to the repository of resources made available to all mentors. Mentors can opt to focus on just contributing to the repository if they don’t have the time or the inclination to interact with the children.
Three Tier Mentor Community
The vision is to build a Global Community of Mentors that will sustain this program with innovative techniques, technology, resources and goodwill. The vision is to look at three tiers of responsibilities.
The Local level, for problems that are very immediate and within the local community like internet connectivity, computer down time, ensuring attendance, building infrastructure, etc. The local mentors may have to devote near full time to the program and may be paid or may be entrepreneurs who take ownership for the smooth and sustainable running of the centre.
The Regional level to deal with cultural issues, curriculum requirements, periodic visits, etc. The regional level volunteers may devote a few hours a week to take ownership for the progress of the team of children who are their proteges.
The Global level of Volunteers who take collective ownership for the entire program to sustain and grow the Program as a movement providing valuable inputs in terms of technology, teaching/mentoring techniques, holding weekly or monthly workshops on various topics, set standards, goals and achievements and metrics to measure progress and for mobilising funds for the entire program.
While building up the Global Community in this manner, the vision of Lokalex is to develop technology that will facilitate better administrative support, closer cooperation between mentors and also to provide more flexibility in connecting up mentors with children. What is envisaged is a technology platform on which all mentors and all children and everyone connected with the program have a presence and can seamlessly connect to anyone else over audio or video channels and have all the mentoring resources available to be shared easily. The platform will provide continuity across sessions and have provisions for feedback, evaluations, gathering metrics and analyses etc.
The village will need development and sustainability in all these and more aspects to be a true ‘republic’ as visualized by Gandhiji in his concept of ‘Gram Swaraj’. Local economic growth and self sufficiency will lead to a more equitable environment of ‘well being and happiness’ if not distribution of wealth. Economic independence at the local level would mean greater control of one’s own destiny for every individual across the globe, including those of the ‘developed countries’,and hence his or her ‘true’ liberation from drudgery. This will allow us to leave behind a world we can treasure for our children to live in.