Sunday, November 16, 2014

Fighting classroom hunger - Akshaya Patra

The possibilities:

I am going to #BlogToFeedAChild with Akshaya Patra and BlogAdda.

In ancient India, the gurukula system of education was the most prominent. Most people associate gurukula system with a residential education system and we do have a few now. At school level they are considered expensive because you need to pay for food and boarding as well. But the other thing about a gurukula was that it was a self-sustained unit. It taught children not just science and arts but basic survival skills, including cutting fire wood, cooking food and sharing with everyone. The self-sufficiency comes from their own work. Each student shares responsibility to grow grains, vegetables and to cook and clean. The gurukula makes its owns pots and pans out of clay and they work and live together.
I do understand that it is difficult to transfer all those operational features from a forested area abundant with natural resources into today's urban land. But some of it can still be. Almost all government schools have grounds. There could be an area taken for growing a garden for vegetables and spices. These are easier to grow than cereals and pulses, and are generally more expensive in the market. If each class or section of students above a certain class, say class 5, are responsible for certain type of vegetables seasonally,there could be significant burden sharing and variety to eat all year round. The school will still have to buy grains and pulses and may be invest in some basic manure and seeds for the vegetable garden but the students also learn skills of agriculture on a smaller and less task-oriented life style. This gardening time can also be used to translate some of their textbook learning into real life like the shapes of leaves, the types of vegetables, learn more about little insects. This can ensure the parents feel their kids are being educated and not just being used as manual agricultural labour. The kids can also help the teachers in cooking and clean so that it helps maintain a balance of labour and the teachers are not compelled to feel they have an additional burden. 

All this and more and all other suggestions can only work if the students admire their teachers. We need dedicated teachers who really want to teach and change a child's life. Luckily, we do have many. Unluckily, we don't have enough. We need more. 
I think advertisements and campaigns should be more directed to the teachers than to the students. Students are children who may or may not access to these campaigns and many not want to be told what to do or even know what's best for them. The teachers are easier to reach out to, at least we know where they are. If the campaigns give them a sense of purpose and motivate them to help their students, all the ideas can easily be implemented.

Help to solve classroom hunger. To find out more click here.

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