Anita Rampal, Professor of Education and former Head and Dean, Faculty of Education, Delhi University
Ankur has developed a deeply sensitive approach to engage children in reading and writing their worlds, by observing and reflecting on life around them. It has demonstrated that learning processes can indeed be such where every learner expresses her thoughts and deepens her understanding through a collective process of knowledge construction.
Ankur has enriched these dialogues by forging close links with the families and communities of learners, showing that by building such partnerships schools can ensure more meaningful participation of children, especially those from deprived and marginalized homes. In the context of the Right to Education Act, Ankur’s approach could be adopted to inspire many more schools and teacher training institutions of the country.
Vivek Vellanki, Regional Resource Centre for Elementary Education, Delhi University
The interaction of teacher fellows with Ankur foregrounded the links between social justice and education, with focus on classroom. It raised the pertinent issues of children from marginalized backgrounds being seen as embodying a culture of deficit, and the common practice of homogenization of children’s voices which are usually perceived as ‘noise’ and ‘suppressed’. It helped the teachers to reflect on teaching-learning processes, and appreciate the significance of recognizing the uniqueness of each child’s voice and a teacher’s role in helping children articulate their experiences in myriad forms, stories being one of the most powerful ones. The powerful ideas of seeing the child as an author who registers her voice in the world through the act of writing; storyteller who shares her stories with others enabling building of collective memory provided food for thought.
Preeti Chauhan, Convenor, Women’s Development Cell, Lakshmibai College
University of Delhi
Ankur through its work is able to tap the creative energies, creative aspect of the lives of girls lives which is otherwise left untouched even in formal schooling systems. How there are many everyday ways in going out, writing researching, deciding, discussing that gender is confronted, negotiated and subverted. The existing hierarchies between men and women and ways to deal with them need not be simply, plainly taught but that girls and women when they reflect on their everyday experiences will learn to understand their working and fight them. Feminist understanding will come their way through their questions when they reflect on the experiences they are engaging with. Ankur provides them with that kind of a space to reflect, read, write and discuss these.
Samina Mishra, Author and Film-maker
Ankur has done exemplary work in drawing out narratives and perspectives from young people in the less visible spaces of the city. Listening to stories of young women, one can say that they were extremely skilled with a sharp eye for details from the world around them. Nazmeen’s piece, Neha Ka Savera, stood out for its keen observation of basti life and a philosophical exploration of relationships when you live cheek-by-jowl. Asha’s piece raised questions about freedom, mobility and happiness for women in the basti. Lalita’s seemingly humorous piece that made a significant social comment was, about a young woman’s first day of work as a lady conductor and the impact of pressures and scrutiny. The texts reflected the writers’ engagement with the world around them. There is a need for such writing to be available to many more readers.
Sushil Shukla, Editor, Chakmak, Director, Ektara Children’s Literature Centre, Bhopal
Children from Ankur collectives have contributed outstanding pieces to Chakmak. This is the kind of writing by children that we had dreamt of. These stories are rich in not just content but also unparalleled in expression and precise detail. Their simple, everyday language creates a magic. They skilfully weave stories around facets of life that remain hidden and are often ignored by writers.
Anil Yadav, Writer
Children from marginalized neighbourhoods, deal with the oppressions and atrocities of the world much more than other children. Their experiential world is much bigger. It is good that children and young people of Ankur collectives are learning to write these experiences. Authors emerging from these neighborhoods will through their writings bring forth the concerns of their contexts, as well as the world and the society at large.
Sanjay Sahai, Editor, Hans literary magazine
The writings of the practitioners of Ankur collectives published in Ghuspathiye column bring directly the experiences and feelings of working class settlements in the literary world. Here they are not just characters of stories written by others, but narrators and authors of these stories. . We were impressed by the writing skills of these young people. Such writings of youth from the margins from all over the country need to be brought out in the public domain, without any tampering.
Bharti Sharma, former chairperson, Child Welfare Committee
What a powerful expression by children! These stories reflect the child’s world and her/his understanding of situations at home and concerns with regards to family, school and difficult encounters. Reading each story leaves a deep impact. Each narration is a saga of resilience of the child. Through this exercise, Ankur has helped children to express their concerns, anguish and indirectly, probably, attempted to change in their life situations so that they can really be children and not miniature adults. These are truly children’s stories in children’s language.
Kishore Jha, Child Rights Consultant and Trainer
‘Tana Hua Bachpan’, on ‘tensions and childhood’ is a remarkable work by practitioners of Ankur collectives’. The discourse on child protection tends to focus on physical and sexual abuse while ignoring issue of neglect and emotional abuse. The texts of Tana Hua Bachpan, bring out many invisible forms of ill-treatment and the way they impact children. The texts of the booklet are forceful, for the directness of children’s expression. All the experiences have been presented in a spontaneous way without making them tragic.This book can be a resource for experts in the area of child protection.
Ursula Rao, Professor of Anthropology, Director of the Institute of Anthropology, Liepzig
Ankur’s work is extremely productive and has significant positive social impact. Ankur’s centres are places for reflection, creative thinking and collaborative learning. Rather than merely impart education the Ankur team trains young people to become astute observers and self-motivated learners. Ankur’s work is unique and highly effective. It opens avenues for disadvantaged young people to become engaged subjects and enables them to act as mature citizens. It provides disadvantaged youth a solid foundation and opens up new job opportunities for young people, who by learning new skills move beyond an environment of poverty and deprivation. Ankur developed methods for supporting research by encouraging young people to produce self-reflective writing on their neighborhoods. These writing generate new perspective on living in the city from non-dominant positions. By publishing these writing we can make available to the interested public, policy makers, development agencies and academics relevant perspective about life at the margins.
Enakshi Ganguly Thukral and Bharti Ali, Co-Directors, Haq: Centre for Child Rights
From the writings of children and young people associated with Ankur one can see how children explore issues that concern them, create their own meanings and develop their consciousness about the world around them. Ankur has adopted an approach of self-discovery to address critical issues of conflict and social inequality. It is a transformative approach, aimed at changing mind-sets over a period of time. It is an effort towards an emancipated understanding of the self, which helps children and adolescents transcend boundaries of gender, ethnicity and class. It builds their confidence to cope with life situations. Such a pedagogical practice is instrumental in bringing out the real voices of children and youth.
Ms. Mona Das, Faculty, Department of Political Science, Satyawati College, Delhi University, New Delhi
The confident young story tellers of Ankur collectives were anti-thetical to my imagination of miserable life in a resettlement colony. The strength of their stories has to be seen beyond the fact of their being from margins. These are very well written pieces, in terms of subjects, imagination, craft and literary elements. They reflect the dignity, struggles and aspirations of writers. Concerted effort has gone by Ankur in making these writers and their stories.
Thalia Gigerenzer, Researcher, Department of Anthropology, Princeton University, USA
The stories of young people on tensions and vulnerability, reveal the varied anxieties and pressures of childhood in urban margins. The collectives with their culture of openness and trust provide a safe space to children to share their personal experiences. The practice of writing gives them an opportunity to creatively work through their anxieties. It is therapeutic because it helps to ventilate tensions. Instead of being overwhelmed by their situations or suppressing their anxieties, children are building their resilience, a skill that they will carry with them their whole lives.
Somalika, Teacher, MCD School
While walking past the class which participates in the Ankur-MCD collaboration, I pause at the door to listen to what the students are saying. I find that they are eager to respond to any question. They open up their everyday lives in these conversations. I feel like joining them.
Kunti Devi, Principal, MCD School
The students climbed the Machan set up by Ankur in the school, to read. The texts they read were not from the text book, they were not even something they had memorized from another source, but their own writings. Their confidence was evident from the way they read. If such programs are held more often, it will definitely benefit the students.
Pooja Pande, Editor, First City
Unarguably, some of the best local writing I’ve read in the city has emerged from the environs of Ankur. This, I believe, has been possible only because of the recognition and development that Ankur provides to the innate talent of all its members, with utmost care and sheer joy.
OP Jain, Chairperson, Sanskriti Foundation, Delhi
Shifting from traditional pedagogical strategies, Ankur has conducted experiments in the field of education and drawn attention to those concerns that arise out of contradictions of life. Ankur has created a distinct identity in society through its objectives, programs and committed staff.