How do we teach the importance of honesty to children? By including a lesson on honesty in their textbooks? By narrating Aesop’s fables or stories from the Panchatantra? By awarding them for every honest act?
St. Clarets Higher Secondary School in Madurai has come up with a unique way to help its students learn all about honesty — by running ‘honesty shops’.
These are shops with no storekeepers and all that the students have to do is walk in, pick up whatever they wish to buy, and leave the money in a cash box.
Image for representation only. Source: Facebook
The school is located in Karumathur, a remote area in Madurai. It started the honesty shops in 2004. The step was taken to bust the stigma surrounding the people of Piramalai Kallars community, who are often distrusted and suspected because their ancestors were known to be thieves and robbers.
The school stuck to its decision even after several cases thefts were reported in the beginning. As the lesson sunk in, the shop started seeing fewer and fewer such incidents. Eventually, the school started recording zero thefts!
On Friday, the authorities introduced the sale of books at the shops in a ceremony that was headed by the District Chief Educational Officer, Angelo Irudayasamy. “This is a role model for other schools,” he said during the occasion.
Every Monday, the collection as well as the accounts of all the 36 honesty shops are submitted to the school by the respective classes. The best and most honestly maintained shop is lauded by the teachers and the principal during the assembly.
Parents of students support this initiative too. “Honesty shop instils honesty among the students and it is heartening to see his child takes pride in the fact that all his classmates have been honest week after week as their shops got the award for the best-maintained shop,” P Raman, a parent told The Times of India.
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