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Sushil Kumar: Taking schools to the communities

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Sushil Kumar, teacher at the primary school in Firozabad, started the tree plantation drive in the school, making the children aware about the importance and uses of trees and other plants in their lives.

Kumar says that students whose birthdays fall during a month are encouraged to plant a tree along with their parents on the last working day of that month, increasing community participation.

Another initiative ‘Supermom’ involves honoring mothers who are very attentive toward education of their children. With emphasis on earning a livelihood rather than education, parents do not encourage their children much to attend school regularly. In some areas, the attendance in schools drop at the time of harvesting season as boys join their fathers in the fields and girls take up household chores.

To make the children come to school regularly, it is necessary for the community to understand the importance of education and felicitating the parents is one such step toward this goal.

“I am always there when my child needs me. I make sure he spends his time in useful activities and does not loiter around,” Phoolmati, who was crowned Supermom by authorities of Junior High School in Jungle Kuria for being a concerned mother for her child’s needs, said.

The schools also reach out to the communities through adult education wherein the children are encouraged to teach their illiterate parents to read and write.

Besides tackling the social evils, these ideas encourage community participation in schools leading to a healthy environment for students’ holistic development.

Such best practices are now not limited to just a few enterprising teachers. Nearly 23,000 schools in different parts of the country have chosen to adopt these ideas through an initiative called Zero Investment Innovations for Education Initiatives (ZIIEI), a mass-scale teacher outreach project of Sri Aurobindo Society’s education-based program Rupantar.

A silent “Innovation Movement” by more than 600,000 teachers wherein they share and implement such innovative ideas, is turning a new leaf in the teaching methods of government schools.

In India, where education in state-run schools is considered to be of the lowest quality, such initiatives prove to be a positive step in building a strong foundation for students at the grass roots.