Based out of Jakkur in Bengaluru, the Vidyashilp Academy is an educational institution for children, that has earned worldwide recognition for its unique curriculum and teaching practices.
Soon it will add yet another feather to its already well-decorated cap by becoming the first ever ‘Fairtrade’ school in the country.
As the name suggests, this label is part of a greater global movement started in the early nineties that aimed to change the way trade worked—through decent working conditions, better prices, and a fairer deal for farmers and workers in developing countries.
Like thousands of schools across the UK, US and Australia, whose school students are part of this global project and wear school uniforms made from Fairtrade-certified cotton, the students of Vidyashilp Academy have also made the switch and will make the announcement on Independence Day.
Through this initiative, the school aims to not just spread the concept of fair trade but also enlighten the children and their parents in the hope that they will take the message forward and adopt these practices in their own lives.
Starting with school uniforms made from organic cotton and produced in the mills of Gujarat, even the green tea served across the school premises is Fairtrade-certified. Condiments like turmeric, cinnamon and black pepper, that occasionally make their way into the school canteen, have been grown in a manner which also meets Fairtrade standards.
Furthermore, the school plans on making its social commitment even more pronounced by serving fully Fairtrade meals to its students and staffers.
It all began in 2016 when Fairtrade India approached Ritu Bali, the Lead Educator in the Commerce and Economics department of the school, to introduce the concept in classrooms.
“The students started asking, ‘Are businesses meant not only to make profits, or how can businesses look at doing social welfare?’ After discussions, we concluded that Fairtrade is the way business should be done,” said Bali to Bangalore Mirror.
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Soon, the idea spread through different departments, who worked towards how Fairtrade practices could be employed in their own streams.
From slogan writing and talks on farmer suicides and workers’ rights to watching videos on how food and clothes are produced, the students were also actively part of programmes like skits about bargaining with vegetable sellers, selling products on stalls (under the Shilp Entrepreneurship programme),
They also requested their parents and neighbours to make informed choices and look for the Fairtrade logo while purchasing items.
“If you don’t give fair wages to farmers, their children won’t take up farming. It’s happening already. If you only want to buy cheap products, farmers will also resort to cheaper practices. That’s where Fairtrade comes into play. It is about putting an end to the exploitation of labour, and restoring the respect in the producer-consumer relationship,” said Abhishek Jani, the CEO of Fairtrade India.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)