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Post Pandemic Education: Blogs As An Interactive Medium

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Dr Vartika Nanda, Head of Department, Journalism, Lady Shri Ram College, has come up with an innovative way to teach and talk to students during the digital learning era. She is using her blog to disseminate important information to her students as well as bridge the gap between virtual and classroom teaching. It has become a one stop shop for students to access all their reading material and clarify their doubts. 

In the absence of a central mechanism for this in Delhi University, Dr Nanda’s blog is a pioneering step in the direction of collating online educational resources. Other than written pieces and books, there are also many useful video links embedded in the content alongside links to further reading material. The section about books related to the media is a handy resource for students to get an overview of important texts. 

Containing blogs from 2006 to 2020, the site also acts as a useful archive of information that students can continue to refer to. Students are the consumers and also producers of content at several places. A number of articles written by them on topics related to journalism are being incorporated on the blog on a regular basis. Once each article is published, the entire class contributes to improvise and improve it. In this manner, by the next day, an entirely new and supplemented document is ready. Having their work shared on the site, with by-lines, gives students a feeling of pride and is a meaningful addition to their portfolio. 

The purpose of this enterprise is both educational and documenting some of the crucial contributions made by students. Each student’s level of involvement is based on their own enthusiasm and certain students have shown great gumption in making the most of this opportunity. Anushree Mukherjee, Himani Jindal and Riya Verma from the first year, and Aastha Poddar and Shraddha Acharya from the final year have made special contributions in adding content to the blog. 

This blog is a classroom dedicated to the students of Journalism. For instance, Lockdown Diaries is a unique engagement exercise wherein students have written about their COVID quarantine experiences. It has given them a cathartic tool as well as a means of creative expression and a way to connect with their peers by means of shared experiences. Students engage with the content through comments, wherein many have added more points and resources to the discussion.

 

Many students have also written personal articles about their journey in college and enjoy the feeling of returning to the site to reminisce about the past. It helps document significant achievements and elaborates on the many discussions and events that have occurred on campus; serving as a useful compendium of the journalism department’s endeavours for anyone to view at a glance.

The site further highlights the innovative pedagogy used by Dr Nanda to immerse her students fully in the practice of journalism. The techniques used are one of a kind and serve as an example for how journalism teaching must incorporate practical components to be effective. A few examples of this are efforts by the students to design a magazine and newspaper from scratch. Students are responsible for thinking of names for their publications, finding articles, finalizing layouts, placing appropriate articles under the correct headings and more. 

Through activities like these, students develop critical and creative thinking and experience journalism in a hands on manner and not just as a theoretical subject.

Vartika Nanda
Vartika Nanda is the founder of the Tinka Tinka Movement, a series on prison reforms initiated for the literary and academic upliftment and reformation of inmates.

The site is a veritable treasure trove of information about Dr Nanda’s significant efforts for prison reform through the Tinka Tinka movement she founded a few years ago. The blog helps one retrieve many useful facts and glean knowledge about the same. This section includes relevant documents on Tinka Tinka Tihar, Tinka Tinka Dasna and Tinka Tinka Madhya Pradesh: three unique milestones in the arena of prison reforms in India. Other sections include columns on journalism, Dr Nanda’s poetry and a media glossary. 

Dr Nanda’s media desk provides a quick and comprehensive view of her extensive work in media and her different publications. The newly introduced Corona diary about prisons is a unique initiative to document the life of prisoners during the pandemic.

Overall, this blog serves its purpose as an amalgamation of information and resources as well as a platform for students to express themselves and partake in discourse. It’s an opportunity for young journalism enthusiasts to see their work preserved for posterity and to make their engagement with the course more meaningful. 

Educators can pay heed to this distinctive approach and utilise this method to make teaching and interaction easier for both teachers and students.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

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.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

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.

Read more about his campaign.

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.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

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.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

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.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

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.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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