What makes a Changemaker School?

 

At Uday, the children did village surveys and found out how much money has been spent on tobacco over a period of a year. These results were then shared with the Panchayat thereby revealing clearly the amount the people there were spending on an activity that is damaging their bodies. They have taken science and sports based mobile vans to multiple government schools in and around Sawai Madhopur and shown students and staff there the power of labs in understanding science and the importance of sport in life. Both these experiments were not only successful in creating excitement and awareness in the places they went to, but the school’s own children gained a lot in terms of exposure to solving issues creatively and pro-actively. 

 

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.

 

Students at Heritage School saw that a stretch of road in Gurgaon did not have street lights and was therefore potentially dangerous and unsafe. They identified the government authority for the stretch and found that two different bodies were responsible for it. Through persistence and repeated effort and the school’s intervention, they were able to get one government body to put street lights in their stretch of the road.

 

With a focus on building pride in the rich adivasi culture, the Vidyodaya school capitalizes on local knowledge and customs, bringing them into the ambit of school systems and curriculum. Tribal music, both local and global, plays an important function for the school, so that children not only see the beauty and knowledge within their own civilization, but also connect with similar tribal movements across the world. For many adivasi children, unused to textbook learning, Vidyodaya’s picture-focused curriculum inculcates curiosity and joy in learning. Further, the in-house tribal museum, allows children to identify with their own culture, reinforcing the values of empathy, tolerance, and wisdom inherent in the adivasi ethos.

 

 

At the policy level, the Podar school team has a strong ambition towards shifting the education ecosystem to deliver better and quality learning for all young people. For the past three years, the school has been organizing an annual conference called LearnShift India, bringing together policymakers, school leaders, educators, social entrepreneurs, funders, and students working to solve larger educational problems. Taking on the lessons from LearnShift, Podar has since championed a range of different programs and ideas, the most successful one being Back to School. Podar invited students of B.Ed (Bachelors of Education) colleges to shadow teachers at the school. With the goal of influencing teacher-training colleges to focus on the importance of facilitated learning, Podar is now running an impact assessment of this initiative. 

 

The Vidya Niketan school has supplemented the government school curriculum by projects and books which allow students to explore their identities as agents of change. A history teacher takes her students on a practical Satyagraha, and an English teacher asks her students to do a project on juvenile delinquency, even as they explore the English language. Further, children are exposed to works like Trash and Everybody Loves a Good Drought, which allow them to start seeing the world from a range of different perspectives.

 


At the Headstart Learning Centre, the focus is not on segregation of children with special needs – the school consciously integrates them with the mainstream through curricular and extra-curricular means. From the very beginning, its activity-based approach has made it possible for all kinds of children to learn. Not only did this approach make learning accessible to those with special needs, but it has also proved beneficial for mainstreamed children, who start looking at the world from new and different perspectives.

 

Seeing the teacher as the true social change agent, Digantar’s training breaks down the very purpose of education, and orients the teacher towards questioning the whys, and the hows of pedagogy. This kind of reflective practice allows Digantar to extend its influence outside the classroom. For example, when they invited children from the Regar (leather-worker) community to study at the school, they soon noticed that the Brahmin children were refusing to work with them. The teachers decided to step in and invited key influential people in the Brahmin community to be a part of a dialogue in the school. Over the course of a few months, the Brahmin community became more open and welcoming towards the lower castes in the area. Within the school, the children started working with each other and soon became friends, something that would never have been possible earlier. 

 

TVS Academy was originally established to meet the need for schools in the underserved community of Hosur, Tamil Nadu. In the last two decades, what was once a small, agricultural town, has today transformed into an industrial hub, with considerable affluence. This transformation is however, not without its side-effects. The region has suffered severe environmental degradation. To combat this TVS's Green Clean Hosur initiative distributed saplings in the community to offset the loss of green cover during highway development in their neighbourhood. The students are also taught practical, hands-on solutions for neighbourhood problems: such as reducing water flow in their taps, and solid waste management. The children have not only extended this knowledge to their own homes and communities, but also government schools in the neighbourhood. #ChangeMakerEd 

 

At the Riverside school, on any given day children are assigned different kinds of opportunities to take charge. Starting from designing their own learning spaces, to programs like aProCH (a Protagonist in Every Child), where the children go out, experience and shape the city of Ahmedabad as future city planners, changemaking drives the ethos of the school. Based on these stories and experiences, Riverside’s well-researched Design Thinking Guide (a school curriculum) is now being piloted in India, Spain, Peru, USA and Taiwan, making it accessible and possible for thousands of young children to thrive in an ‘I CAN’ universe. #ChangeMakerEd