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Speaking Against The ‘de facto’ Status Enjoyed By Educational Institutions

By Arvind Nedumaran:

The book ‘The Teenage Liberation Handbook‘ is the single most disruptive book to the Education business and revolutionary and thought provoking to the teenage readers. It helps me better understand what I went through mentally in high school. And I realize I’m not alone. People have started to speak for themselves about their disappointment with the current system. The way we are blindly pushed into a mass ‘labour production facility‘ without paying any heed to what each and every one of the millions of students undergo during schooling every year.

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It doesn’t stop there. The description given to ‘Schools’ in the book matches so closely with colleges in our country. Our colleges are no better. There’s nothing called freedom that we see around here. When I say that, most people fire back at me, saying it’s the college I’m in. If I had made my way into one of the premiere institutions of the country, the case might have been radically different. But the point is the whole system matters. Not just a bunch of elite institutions. If there are 10,000 spots that offer some kind of a pseudo freedom, what’s the fate of the several lakh students that pass out of schools every year. Where are they supposed to go if they don’t get into one of these premier institutions? ‘Accept’ reality, believe that they aren’t good enough and letting themselves to get sucked into a never ending treadmill of mediocrity?

This fact made me realize that something is fundamentally wrong here. The most intelligent people are sidelined by the people who are most obedient to the system. If somebody answers an unorthodox inner calling, they are simply seen as a rebel. Who are we to decide what a legitimate call from one’s inner self can be? I personally feel nobody on earth is better qualified than ourselves to tell us what we should and shouldn’t feel passionate about. There might be people who can facilitate us making a clearer decision. But nobody can be anybody else’s substitute in finding one’s passion. An Inner calling is a natural process. But man has always been trying to ‘straighten up’ nature and has eventually failed in almost all his pursuits to overpower nature.

When will we ever see a time when people can boldly and naturally choose what’s right for them without being mocked at, secluded from the society and ignored?

I look forward to a change that I’d like to be an active part of. I call all of you to join the movement. Pick a passion, an old hobby that you abandoned for the sake of your boards, or just an activity you’ve always been curious about. It may be anything; from underwater basket weaving to just staring at the stars. Escape into one for while every day. When possible, take a break from your routine and go off the grid. Think about what you’re doing and if it’s what you’ve wanted to do or at least if you’re doing this because of no external pressure. Think about all the life decisions you’ve ever made. Just make sure they are all in agreement with the ideals and principles you’ve for yourself. The validity of most of those might have lapsed though their effects continue to show. What you can do is, act upon the ones you can right now. It sure might involve a little unrest at home, among friends and in social circles. But trust me, it’s worth all that.

Photo Credit: Krissy.Venosdale via Compfight cc

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Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

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The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

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Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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