Learning Curve Foundation: Empowering children with social and emotional skills
Children are believed to be the future of the country. But why do we keep focusing on how much they know instead of how well they are doing? Schools and parents are always concerned with the grades their children are getting, but they seldom actually look into their children's emotional and social development.
Working on these concepts, a non-profit organisation exists called Learning Curve Foundation. It is an organisation based in Hyderabad, India, and its foundation is built on the idea that social-emotional learning is an essential part of a child's development, especially in environments with limited resources, and that implementing it can significantly improve equity in a child’s life and, ultimately, life outcomes.
In an education system where the concept of social-emotional skills is still nascent, Learning Curve foundation focuses beyond academics on developing abilities that will help students become resilient and make wise judgments. The strategy is to implement this in school systems via several different channels, including empowering teachers through self-development and mentoring, enabling them to translate this in the classroom through structured and age-appropriate social-emotional curriculum and toolkits, and working with school administrators and parents on awareness, process, practise, and communication of social-emotional learning, both in school and at home.
(Workshop for teachers on their Self-development)
In 2016, when the foundation started its operation with a girls’ shelter home, it was discovered that more than 60% of the female children there had self-esteem difficulties and that close to 70% would not have access to higher education. During the pilot implementation with KGBV schools (for girls from underprivileged near villages), the data discovered that about 20% of girls drop out of secondary school and that over 40% of them struggle with low self-confidence, decision-making, and forming healthy relationships. The missions and SEL programs were developed as a result of our continued reliance on the need identification to deliver highly contextual and economical solutions.
Since 2016, Learning Curve has partnered with the Government of Andhra Pradesh on curriculum design, capacity building, and the rollout of the Happiness Curriculum throughout the state.
Impact story of Beneficiary- Airpula Akshara, 9th Grade Student, KGBV Tandur, Vikarabad district, Telangana.
(Akshara- Beneficiary of LCF)
The Learning Curve team met Airpula Akshara during one of their regular visits to KGBV school and during their random interaction with the students, they found out that Akshara is a very energetic, positive and cheerful girl. Her parents are farmers and she comes from a middle-class background. Akshara has two younger brothers and one older sister. She lived with her parents and siblings before joining the hostel at KGBV.
Akshara says “I am not the same person I was 2 years ago. I used to stay alone at home or quarrel with my siblings. I was irritable and even petty issues made me lose my temper. Sometimes I shout at my parents. I realized the change in me after I started attending the sessions from the Learning Curve’s program “Ready for the World” in our school. My teacher used to conduct two activities a week. This was a very different and unique kind of class, where there were discussions on overcoming challenges, understanding others’ perspectives, managing conflicts, etc. During this our class teacher used to bring a box with stickers, badges, a smiley ball, and many more.”
She continued “I was very happy when I received this badge. It says I am a "Superstar". This gives me confidence. I feel more responsible and appreciated. During the sessions that we receive, we have a lot of fun. We play, act, and engage in activities in a group. I love attending the sessions as it refreshes me and gives me happiness. The class used to start with an energizer. I still remember a few of them, what colour do you want to bring into the classroom, add an adjective to your name that starts with the first letter of your Name-Amazing Akshara, is what I said on that day. I enjoyed each and every activity. These energizers made me overcome my fear of speaking in front of people. I started participating in and responding to these activities. “
During the class, our teachers talked about the struggles and challenges they faced in their life and how they overcame them. I would keenly listen to all these stories. Gradually my teachers became my role model. I thought I should become as strong as my teachers. This class was amazing and gave us the space to tell anything we like, without judging whether it is a right or a wrong answer. This is a non-judgmental space for me. I learnt other things like how to come out of my comfort zone, being empathetic to others, being polite and sharing things with others, and being responsible.” Finally, she said, “Girls in residential schools need more support in learning social and emotional skills as they are very far from the community and social interaction”.
The teachers of the school quoted “she is now a very participative and good team player in the classroom. She talks very confidently and always helps others to solve their issues”. Later we spoke with her mother. She said “this time during the vacation she was not the old Akshara who would have emotional outbursts all the time. She is now adaptable and has a positive attitude. She is enjoying conversations with us and is very thoughtful. She started asking many questions to try to understand our past life and our stories”.
(SEL Classroom session in School)
The journey of LCF has been remarkable. The foundation has impacted over 1,75,000 students, 70K parents, and 5500 teachers across 737 schools, and aims to impact 1 million students by 2030. The long-term objective is to encourage the government to engage in making a comprehensive curriculum that offers social-emotional skills that can be taught in classrooms and develop 5 million children emotionally and socially resilient in coming years. LCF also actively looks for collaborative and invested partners who would like to embed SEL solutions in their work by supporting with contextualization, program model design and capacity building.