Recognize us as stakeholders and not visitors in schools: Student voices

The celebration of student voice was the theme of the ‘Kids Education Revolution (KER)’ national summit by Mumbai-based nonprofit, Teach For India (TFI) , this time held in Delhi from Feb 7-9. It began by KER night that saw talks by student activists, a panel discussion, street play, poetry recitation around the theme.

Ridhima Pandey, dubbed as India’s Greta Thunberg led a TED Talk called ‘Save Our Future’ on why supporting student voice matters more than ever in our present climate crisis. She was also joined by Raghavendra Yadav, a Teach For India student from Mumbai who is running a student leadership and sustainable change organisation in his school, inspired by McKinsey’s consulting model; and Shiksha, a young student from Delhi who changed her given name to reflect her love for education- and is currently leading the charge for equitable education in her community.

A thought provoking panel discussion with student revolutionaries and dignitaries- Barkha Dutt, Amitabh Kant, Ashish Dhawan- moderated by Sandeep Rai, Chief of City Operations at Teach For India, and author of acclaimed novel- ‘Grey Sunshine’ offered some valuable insights into the education system. Over 700 people including students from several countries attended the event.

The Summit, on 8th and 9th February 2020 saw close to 800 participants over two days, where educators, both from private and public schools came together with students to take part in Reimagining Sessions, to listen and learn from each other for a bright new vision of education for all.

Among the highlights of the summit was the “Museum of Grey Sunshine”– empowered by JSW Foundation and Tanvi Jindal’s Museum of Solutions- a pop-up museum experience, which showcased the truth and hope of the education system in India via various experience halls, which took participants through the experience of oppression, chaos and pain that many students must bear as a consequence of a broken educational system.

Tanvi Jindal, founder Museum of Solutions described it as follows: Museum of Grey Sunshine is created for educators, parents, and government officials, to build empathy for children and teachers by introducing them to the reality of the current Indian education system. This was conceptualised and designed by the Museum of Solutions (MOS) team, which consists of a group of individuals working towards making learning for all children more enjoyable and meaningful.”

Amongst some notable sessions were those by MTV Rap Star and Founder of US Based Non Profit- ‘Empty Hands Music’, Nimo Patel, who led an inspiring session on building a movement through and with love; and one on Entrepreneurship for Social Change by Aditya Nataraj from Piramal Foundation and Kaivalya.

Reimagining Sessions talked about how existing patterns of thought can be transformed. These sessions were led by impactful organisations such as Reap Benefit, who imparted knowledge on developing 21st century skills and civic engagement in classrooms; Riverside School who led a session on Design for Change and problem-solving skills and Teach For America, who immersed participants in nourishing sensibilities in working WITH communities and not for them.

Shailendra Singh, advisor to Directorate of Education, Government of Delhi was also present as a speaker at the summit, had this to say about the event- “We need to make education humane and responsive to today’s time, and this summit is a step in that direction.”

 Shaheen Mistri, CEO, Teach For India said, “Imagine students working on problems and projects they choose and really care about alongside passionate and skilled people at all levels of the education system. Imagine children and adults shifting things by small, consistent, everyday actions of love- If we do this, everything else will improve. This is what the Kids Education Revolution is all about.”

It may be mentioned that Teach For India whichbegan its operations in 2009 is part of a global Teach For All network of 50 countries, with a shared vision of an excellent education for all children.  The organisation’s mission is to end educational inequity in India by creating a strong pipeline of driven, skilled talent within the educational ecosystem of this nation. TFI seeks to make teaching an aspirational proposition and looks to encourage more of the country’s qualified workforce to consider it as a profession.