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Here’s Why Schools Should Incorporate Wildlife Sensitization Modules In Their Syllabi

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By Sayendri Panchadhyayi:

Indian education system has never been a favorable theme for discussion and has persistently received ire from the academicians, students, and parents. Some of the reasons that for the discontentment can be attributed to an obsolete syllabus that is not in synchronization with the changing times, paucity of competent faculty members to forge interest among students, teaching methodology which is hinged upon, in many cases, simply reading out from books and accentuating upon the ‘memory-game’ ability as against practical application of theoretical edifice. While the entire infrastructural model needs to be scrutinized, I would like to locate my estimations within the realm of syllabus with the focus on the imperative to include animal welfare as a separate course.

wildlife

Humans have shared an amicable bond with animals; whether it is about keeping pets and nurturing them, using animals for economic purpose like the animal farms or having certain animals that provides security, humans have an elaborate history of dependence on animals. These days, thanks to PETA and other NGOs, animal philanthropy has become the ‘it’ cause for celebrities to endorse and demonstrate their social responsibility. Several NGOs have mushroomed that advocate the cause of benevolence towards animals through sensitization workshops, street plays and helping distressed animals in need. Strangely, the issue of animal welfare have not found recognition within the school curriculum apart from CBSE. While there may be one or two short stories in literature which speaks about the ties shared between an individual and animal or in environmental science books that enlists endangered species of fauna but there is no distinct module that captures the underlining ethos of animal philanthropy.

The fundamental need to confer animal philanthropy the status of a distinct course is primarily because of our passive response towards animals. While it is true that pets have always been a popular concept, one cannot deny the physical abuse that some of us inflict upon animals in the name of entertainment, economy and pelting stones at stray animals merely for fun. Let us look in to the entertainment industry, like the circus, where animals are ‘trained’ to perform perilous tasks and the audience feel awed! The glass-coated ‘manja’ used during kite flying that severely injures and kills birds especially during the kite flying competitions. The bullock cart races, cock fights, employing animals like donkeys, bulls and elephants during election rallies, overloading and beating them or using animals for experimentation instead of adopting non-animal alternatives have become part of our daily lives. The plight of animals in the zoos is worse. Subjected to captivity within a constructed space, zoos inhibit the unhindered movements of animals and unhygienic conditions augment their misery. Often visitors feed animals plastic and toxic substances for the sake of fun which lead to their bodily dysfunctions! There is literature that valorizes hunting, aligning it with heroism and status symbol.

However, dehumanization of nature has been normalized to such an extent that the imperative to treat animals with compassion is the least important issue, often an alien concept. Hence, it is in this context that animal welfare becomes the need of the hour. Since it is in schools where we are exposed to miscellaneous subjects, it is the onus of schools to assess importance of animal welfare. Not just will it be a shift from the conventional themes within the academic framework but it can be a potential apparatus for inculcating the values of compassion, tolerance and empathy; all that we are in need of in plenty! It is heartening to find that some schools have resorted to pet therapy sessions with the aim of de-stressing students as pets are considered to be one of the greatest stress-busters.

While atrocities towards animals are widespread, one cannot overlook the institutionalization of care for animals within certain cultural practices, like those who are worshipers of ‘Monosha’ (the goddess of snake according to Puranic tradition) believe that killing snakes is profane. And these positive functions of the cultural practices need to be acknowledged.

Lastly, I would like to say, one doesn’t have to conform to vegetarianism or vegan-ism to show their support for animals but we can leave our lasting impact in our humble ways which can solely trail through the path of a profound sensitization project.

You must be to comment.
  1. Vaishali Jain

    You’re right. It’s not about vegetarianism, it’s about humanity. If children are made aware of the implications of the damage they can do by being ignorant, it will be a great social service. The change you mentioned is the one I’m really looking forward to, apart from the other causes.

  2. Aditi Thakker

    I am so glad that you have addressed this issue. So many people in our country, are unknowingly being cruel to animals sometimes. Be it trying to chase the leopard out of Mumbai’s suburbs, birds during Makar Sankranti or dogs and cats during Diwali.

    I think, for students to learn this at school, we first need to educate their educators.

  3. Sayendri Panchadhyayi

    Vaishali: thank you for liking the article:) one have to react as well as act towards animal atrocities.
    Aditi: I agree with you that educators need to be sensitized before they shoulder the responsibility of sensitizing the future generations and thanks for abstracting examples of cruelty towards animals from our everyday life:)

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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.

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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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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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