Education is a critical priority and everyone agrees that schools are doing a terrible job at delivering it. They especially let students from poor families down, and the “Achievement Gap” refers to the growing disparity in academic outcomes between students from different socioeconomic backgrounds. Students who come from lower socio-economic backgrounds are more likely to experience difficulties in school than those from more affluent families. They usually do much worse in exams, and many end up failing and then dropping out. This is not because they are less intelligent – they are often much smarter than richer kids.
It’s partly because they have never been exposed to the joy of reading in their house before joining school, as a result of which they find it hard to catch up with more privileged kids. Most find the school experience intimidating, because they are treated as second-class citizens by the richer kids. They are often burdened by having to do household chores, which means they can’t devote enough time to academics. To add insult to injury, what is taught in school is irrelevant to their needs, and they can’t relate to it . The curriculum is outdated, the teachers are over-worked, and lectures can be boring.
In recent years, community-based learning (CBL) pods have emerged as an effective way to close the achievement gap. CBL is a teaching methodology that uses small groups of students to learn from each other , supplemented with input from experts as needed. The It is based on the idea that students are more likely to learn when they are actively involved in the process of learning. This makes it a great place for students to learn useful skills and build meaningful relationships with their peers and mentors.
Community-based learning practices provide students with a unique opportunity to work alongside their peers in informal groups , so their learning becomes more sticky.
- Community-based learning pods connect students with learning resources and networks outside of their immediate community with the aim of improving their educational experience. These Learning Pods provide students with the opportunity to develop their academic skills and provide them with the tools necessary to thrive in an ever competitive world.
- Community-based learning pods represent an innovative approach to improving academic achievement amongst low-income communities.
- Community-based learning can begin as early as the age of one and continue until the students complete their Grade 12 exams. Some students attend the centre until they finish their undergraduate degrees.
Community-based NGOs can help families work together to help their children’s education . They also address several other aspects of a child’s life that play a critical role in not only keeping them in school but also contributing to quality education. These include extra-curricular activities, such as exposure to sports and hobbies; as well as the opportunity to travel and explore the outside world.
Because these are run frugally by community members, they are very cost-effective. They provide a safe, trusted environment, and because they are embedded in the community, the education they provide is tailored to the needs of that community. The medium of instruction is the local language , because this is what children are most comfortable with, which means they are able to learn much faster.