Muni International School, Delhi


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Muni International, a budget private school in West Delhi, is demonstrating a system by which every child reaches their full potential – by taking on shared responsibility over learning, school improvement and community action. Through the Eklavya System, children practice their own learning by teaching each other, thereby building an ‘everyone can’ sensibility towards themselves, and their worlds.

The Eklavya System positions every child as both a learner and a teacher – with knowledge not being the sole bastion of adults. Children at Muni International learn not just from the teacher, but also are equipped to seek knowledge from usual and unusual spaces – themselves, their peers, their juniors, and the world outside. This manifests compellingly, with the children demonstrating ability in ways their teachers and parents do not and cannot. For instance, while the founder and the teachers speak very little English, the students of Muni International speak the language fluently. Further, not only do they speak English, but they also speak Japanese, Chinese, French, German, Arabic and Spanish. Muni International introduces these languages to the children at an early age, to help them build the adaptive capacity to thrive in a fast changing, globalized world.

As a system, this cuts across curricula and cultures in the school. At the core of it, the school is prioritizing a belief in shared responsibility. From teaching and learning, to school and community improvement, each child echoed this sense of ownership, which starts from the classroom, but ultimately leads back home – to the family and the neighbourhood of the child. Within school, the Student Parliament allows children as young as age 4, to take part in collective decision making. Outside of school, each child takes ownership of the area around their homes – equipped with the skills of first-aid, this child becomes the neighbourhood point person for any queries, illness, and accidents – building a societal belief in the agency of children in bringing about change.

This mindset is not only cultivated, but is constantly re-inforced by empathic teaching, emerging from encouragement, as opposed to enforcement. From kindergarten, children are exposed to concepts of reasoning and logic – concepts taught to children at far more advanced stages. Children learn not because of compulsion, but through constant encouragement, and tolerance for failure. Early on, the problem solving mentality is seeded, with children leading the charge.

Today, this 14 year old school is ready to start seeing their model grow and replicate across the country’s considerable population of budget private schools. Ashok Thakur, the founder is a part of a collective of low-income private schools called National Independent Schools Alliance -  a network to advocate for and build voice in policy and regulatory circles.  Further, he is also a part of the the leadership circle created through another organization called Creatnet, which brings together school leaders towards building more effective leadership in government and budget schools. He is a  resource person in this collective, towards bulding interest in his ideas across government schools in the capital. Ashok has become a vocal advocate for educational reform not only in these spaces, and plans to continue demonstrating innovation by setting up his own network of schools across the country.

 

Ashok Thakur is the founder of Muni International School. A hard working, self-made man, he has been working in the field of education for last 10 years. His school has won acclaim from many organisations in India and abroad. A passionate educationist, he has won the Rajdhani Gaurav Award, 2010 by Jan Sanskriti for social justice and the Award of the year for Excellence in Education by the Navratan Society in Noida, among others.