It is one thing to be taught something and a completely different thing to be encouraged to put that learning into practice.
Vidya Niketan, a school based in Hebbal, Bengaluru, has started a rather unique initiative, which encourages students, teachers, and parents to spend 40 hours in 2019 towards community development.
In a conversation with The Better India, Mrs H Vithani, the founder of the school, tells us how this idea came into being.
“I had heard about a tech giant in the city giving its employees 40 hours of leave to enable them to participate in community development programmes. Given that in schools, we already have enough holidays, I modified the plan to suit our needs,” she begins.
Every member of the school, whether teaching staff or administrative, students or support staff, are participating in this unique resolution.
Mrs Vithani says, “Every member will maintain a log of their activities with regard to the date, time and service rendered in a small pocket-book, which will be made available to them after the Christmas holidays. Students will carry their pocket-books to school to share their activities with their class teachers.”
To encourage more students, the class teachers have been requested to spend time each week to look at the diary and discuss the deeds performed by the students.
“While it is too soon to see the progress, I am happy that a few parents have actively started helping their kids in this,” Mrs Vithani shares.
She adds, “I have also requested the teachers not to give students suggestions on what they could do.”
Narrating the incident which prompted her to let the students think for themselves, she says, “A unique Christmas gift I saw this year was given by a little girl. It was a gift coupon which would give the recipient either a head or foot massage from the child. The thought of getting a head massage from a grandchild was just so wonderful.”
Children are capable of so much more than they receive credit for.
The idea is to contribute to their growth in a meaningful manner, while being a way to let them think for themselves, without being spoon-fed.
Speaking about one of the responses to her initiative, she concludes, “One of our in-house carpenters came to me after the school reopened and showed me that during the holidays, he had spent ‘x’ number of hours helping someone less fortunate than him. The pride that both he and I felt at that was just remarkable.”
While this is an initiative taken up by this particular school, each one of us could decide to set aside 40 hours this year to help give back to the community in a lasting way.
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)