Stories that matter.
Stories that matter. Stories that matter.

Twelve-year-old Pooja, from a remote village in Karnataka, carried her oversized water pot each morning, tending to her household chores as expected. Yet, her gaze would inevitably drift towards the nearby Community Learning Centre of the Magic Bus India Foundation. As she returned home, observing the enthusiasm and engagement of adolescents her age in their learning activities, she often felt left out.

This marked a stark contrast to her own life, where school attendance was overshadowed by her parents' expectations of prioritising household chores for girls. However, this contrast ignited her aspirations, as the lively atmosphere at the Magic Bus Community Learning Centre continuously reminded her of the unexplored potential beyond her current circumstances.

What factors could have brought about a positive change in Pooja's situation? Was it education alone or the presence of strong family support? Let's explore this further: In low-income families, educational opportunities alone may not be sufficient to overcome the challenges faced by them. The difficult backgrounds they come from often impede their ability to effectively navigate conflicts and bear the psychological burdens arising from their home environments.

This is precisely where socio-emotional learning (SEL) emerges as a transformative solution, offering a comprehensive approach to address these barriers and foster positive development.

What Research Tells Us
Research(1) consistently demonstrates that when students cultivate supportive relationships and acquire social, emotional, and cognitive skills across various contexts, their academic progress accelerates. Socio-emotional learning plays a pivotal role in boosting academic achievement by fostering these skills.

The National Education Policy (NEP) of 2020 recognised the significance of socio-emotional learning (SEL) as a key tool in developing individuals who possess rational thought, compassion, and empathy. Furthermore, SEL has gained prominence(2) in the Education Budget of 2023, emphasising the importance of implementing SEL and wellness programmes in Government schools throughout India.

Moving The Needle
Determined to change her situation, one day Pooja approached her friend Nita, who was already a part of the Magic Bus India Foundation's Adolescent Programme. With Nita's support, Pooja enrolled in the programme and convinced her parents to let her participate.

Entering the Magic Bus Community Learning Centre, Pooja felt a mix of hesitation and excitement. In a world where she was often silenced and discouraged from expressing herself, the idea of being in a room with other adolescents, both boys and girls, was a culture shock. But she held on to her ambitious dreams and embraced the opportunity.

Expressing her feelings, Pooja said, "I felt a rush of emotions - excitement and fear. In our community, girls and boys never sit together to study or play. It was a complete culture shock, and I wasn't sure if I had made the right decision. Everything seemed like rocket science to me."

Inside Magic Bus: The Execution Of SEL
Magic Bus India Foundation is committed to realising the vision of SEL through its Government Partnership Programme for adolescents. Through collaborations with the government, the organisation empowers teachers with crucial life skills training to equip students (like Pooja) in grades 6 to 10 with essential life skills and socio-emotional learning. Utilising a teacher-led and activity-based approach, the programme actively engages School Management Committees (SMCs) to ensure holistic development and meaningful impact.

Currently, Magic Bus has partnered with Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Odisha and Mizoram state governments to implement the programme through system officials and teachers. It will benefit over 5.4 million adolescents and 33,000+ teachers, across more than 25,800 government schools in the these states, particularly those from tribal, rural and per-urban areas.

The Adolescents Life Skills Education Programme executed by Magic Bus encompasses three dimensions: Cognitive, Social, and Emotional. Within these dimensions, students are taught 11 essential life skills, including Problem Solving, Decision Making, Self-Management, Creativity, Empathy, Assertiveness, Negotiation, Collaboration, Communication, Self-Awareness, Self-Efficacy and Adaptability.

One of the key outcomes from the Life Skills Programme is the development of SEL.

Pooja, who was initially hesitant, had the opportunity to cultivate various socio-emotional skills, including:

Self-Awareness: This skill involves recognising our personal qualities, strengths, weaknesses, values, beliefs, and aspirations, contributing to our sense of identity

Adaptability: It is the capacity to adjust and respond effectively to change, uncertainty, and new information by adopting new ways and methods. By embracing adaptability, individuals learn how to accept change, think and act effectively in different situations.

Self-Efficacy: It is the belief in one's own abilities to meet challenges and succeed. Self-efficacy leads to academic success, effective personal adjustment, stress management, improved health, and greater satisfaction.

Empathy : Empathy is the ability to understand and relate to others emotionally, considering their perspective and responding appropriately. It promotes social competence, meaningful relationships, and positive behaviours.

Communication: Communication encompasses both verbal and non-verbal expressions, active listening, assertive expression of opinions and needs, and seeking support when necessary. It fosters understanding, conflict resolution, trust, respect, creativity, problem-solving, and creates a caring environment.

Unleashing The Impact

The Magic Bus India Foundation nurtured Pooja's socio-emotional learning, fostering personal growth and empowering her to overcome the limitations that once held her back.

Pooja expressed her gratitude, saying, "Through prioritising socio-emotional learning (SEL), the Magic Bus India Foundation equipped me with essential tools to overcome shyness and embrace adaptability. Now, I confidently engage with people of all genders and collaborate effectively with cross-functional teams at work. SEL helped me develop self-awareness, problem-solving skills, and navigate interpersonal conflicts. For instance, when my parents wanted me to marry right after finishing my studies, I pursued a computer course, secured a job, and used self-awareness to convince them of my aspirations. I smoothly adapted to my new job and team environment. The Magic Bus India Foundation played a significant role in making all of this possible."

She continued, "Additionally, I have learned the importance of empathy and how to manage my emotions, leading to a more balanced and peaceful approach to life and my career. It is truly liberating!"

Discover the impact of Magic Bus India Foundation's work firsthand by exploring our Annual Report See how we are making a meaningful difference in the communities we serve. For any inquiries, please feel free to reach out to us at [email protected]

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