The Kids’ Sustainable School Challenge by Going to School is the first government-school sustainable enterprise challenge for kids. Students were asked, “How would you change your school, if you could?”, and 10,000 of them responded with their ideas of change.
Going to School is a creative not-for-profit education trust that works in thousands of schools, teaching over 3,00,000 kids entrepreneurial skills through stories, games, and weekly action projects in Bihar. As an organization, they create design-driven stories, games, and content to teach kids entrepreneurial skills at school, and on national television. In 2016, a project called ‘The Kids’ Sustainable School Challenge’ was started.
“It is the first government-school kids sustainable enterprise challenge. The project gives kids in Class IX government schools in Bihar a chance to research, write, think-through, design, and finally action sustainable-enterprise ideas in their schools,” says Lisa Heydlauff, Founder and Director of Going to School.
This Kids Sustainable School Challenge was powered by a kids radio show that got the word out, introduced in teacher trainings, and included as flyers in newspapers—it was open to all. The challenge ran directly through the 1,500 government secondary schools that Going to School works in.
Every kid that wanted to be a part of the programme received an eight-step Kids B plan notebook to complete. The notebook takes kids through the steps of building a business plan and a prototype, to testing, and finally going to market. When kids were finished with their plans, they sent them to the Going to School office in Delhi.
“This was for the first time ever that kids in government schools were asked about how they’d change their schools, and they responded. 10,000 of them,” shares Lisa.
The shortlist was created after every plan was read by 25 people at the organization. 101 kids’ plans were selected according to whether the ideas were well-researched, sustainable, green, inclusive, used clean energy, and solved a big problem that would change their school for everyone. These kids are now practicing to pitch their business idea at the Pitch It event to be held on 23rd April, 2017 in Nalanda, Bihar. Some of the shortlisted ideas include:
Zabeena from Darbhanga thinks that girls not playing is a big problem. To solve this problem, she has decided to organise a wacky, fun Sports Day in her school to get more students interested in playing sports.
That is the big question Harsh from Madhepura set out to investigate. He found that, in his school, there are non-functional toilets, and no locks on washroom doors. According to him, students, especially girls, have a huge issue using these toilets.
His solution? Re-building the toilets in his school, including a separate toilet for girls. Harsh feels that if his plan succeeds, girls will feel more comfortable attending school.
Manish from Bhagalpur identified two big problems in his school:
- There is no clean drinking water in his school.
- There is no clean energy being utilised in his school.
To solve these big problems,
- Manish wants to set up a water purifier in his school.
- Manish also wants to design a system in his school that ensures that it is powered by solar panels and other forms of clean energy.
At the Pitch It event in Nalanda, the shortlisted ideas will be presented (think mini-TEDx) to a jury of kids. The event will also be live-streamed on Facebook across India, with 10 schools in different cities live-streaming back again. 50 out of 100 schools will get a chance to win grants to action kids plans.
Grants of ₹10,000 to ₹1,50,000 could be won by kids for their schools to action their plans. The team will also be back three months later to tell the stories of what happened when kids action their school-change ideas. Very excitingly, 50 schools will win their own Library Kits from Pratham Books.
The library kit from Pratham Books is literally a library on the wall, with 125 richly illustrated children’s books, attractively displayed and providing a print-rich environment for children. It was developed keeping in mind the limitations of schools that are infrastructure- and resource-scarce.
This child-friendly unit is a compact treasure trove of stories and fables, taking the children on magical journeys.
“Most of these schools don’t have even basic infrastructure, including something as important as a library. If they get a library, it will give students access to stories and books outside what they are reading. Who doesn’t love stories? The stories created by Pratham Books are set in environments that kids are familiar with, cover a range of genres, and are beautifully illustrated, making books all the more fun to read. If our young entrepreneurs have to keep the momentum going, it will become imperative that they read as much as possible, to expand their mind and know that they can achieve anything, take on any problem, and solve them,” says Lisa.
Help unlock a library and set little readers on a reading journey by donating a book! If you or your organisation work with organizations or schools that need books, please contact Pratham Books via email.