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How Is A Democratic School Analogous To Early Childhood Care And Education?

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Waking up early in the morning, getting ready, and rushing to school carrying loads of books had never been my favourite part of life as a four-year-old. I remember how our teachers used to give us strict instructions of taking out books, reading the alphabets, varnmala or numbers, after which we were supposed to imitate them in our four-line copies while sticking to our benches until the bell rings.

The angry eyes of the teacher staring at me for not having a good handwriting still give me nightmares. Not just this, since keeping quiet had never been my friend’s forte, as per my teacher’s words, both of us troubled them a lot by disturbing them in the middle of a boring class — wondering in our world of fantasy, discussing the colour, shape and beauty of flowers peeping in from the windows.

I couldn’t understand why leaving the classroom to explore the school was forbidden. Why did teachers used to complain to my parents and why did they not like my class explorations beyond the four-walled classrooms? Also, why were striking sleeping lines and standing lines on a 9-inch notebook so important than going out and imitating the lines on an open field? Unfortunately, all my good memories are associated with only 20 minute-games periods that seemed to be too short to explore each part of the school ground.

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At last, just like any other student, somehow, I also complied with school norms fearing isolation. Nobody could satisfy me with their answers to my innocent but important questions at that time. Now, like me, many others have finally got the answers to these questions from the Ministry of Human Resource Development (now Ministry of Education). That’s what we call “Der aaye durust aaye (Better late than never)”.

After almost three decades of the announcement of the last education policy, our Union Cabinet has finally announced much-needed reforms in the form of National Education Policy 2020. The Ministry of Education has at last taken into account a holistic approach towards the overall development of a student from pre-primary to higher education.

Major Takeaway For Primary And Middle Schools

The key thrust of curriculum and pedagogy reform across all stages will be to move the education system towards real understanding and learning how to learn, and going away from the culture of rote learning as is present today.

Some highlights on primary and middle school reforms:

1. There will be path-breaking reforms for pre-primary children as there will be universalisation of Early Child Care Education (ECCE), which will have its own curriculum for the children upto three years. Three to six year-old students will have a play-based, activity-based flexible, multi-faceted, multi-level, activity-based and discovery-based learning curriculum. basic literacy and numeracy

2. There will be a change in curricular and pedagogical structure introducing 5+3+3+4. Setup of national mission for basic literacy and numeracy for students of Class 1 to 3.

no bag days3. There will be no bag days for vocational learning, internships, experiential learning, project-based learning from Classes 6 to 8. The curriculum of these classes will have subject-introduction and subject exploration as the main focus, plus it will be multidisciplinary.

critical thinking4. The curriculum will be reduced to essential content so that students get time to explore and focus on foundational education such as life skills, scientific temper, problem-solving and critical thinking.

7. The medium of education till Class 5 or 8, if possible, should be in either mother tongue or regional language.

What Are The Ideals Of Prayaas: The Democratic School?

Every child, when they walk into the school, wants to have an independent environment, i.e. no restriction of sitting on a seat the whole day, no bags with a heavy load of notebooks that they rarely love. They like talking, giggling and playing with friends, no pressure of doing classwork and homework, no scolding. All they want is to live freely, enjoy and explore their own little world where they can grow organically rather than as machine-manufactured “OK-tested” products of schools. These were the opening lines of Dr Mukti Patel, Founder of Prayaas: The Democratic School, first of its kind in India.

Does It Align Well With The Objectives Of NEP 2020?

holistic learning

Prayaas has been working towards developing foundational learning.

1. Holistic Learning: It helps in psychological, social, emotional and spiritual development of a child.

2. Early Literacy Development: It is very important for children through simple activities, such as singing, talking and playing games, which help in developing an association with Nature.

3. Observing their daily activities, growth and inclination give children more autonomy that boosts their intrinsic motivation.

4. Self-Directed Learning: Freedom, Happiness and Values — Prayaas helps children in self-exploration. It gives wings to children to fly and explore the world in their own possible way.

5. No bag, No burden: This concept is put on children as the concept behind free school, away from the load and closer to critical thinking.

6. Age-Mixed community: No separation based on the age of children is made. Instead, they study as a cohort with flexible age limits that nurture their social understanding better and also develop problem-solving skills in children.prayaas school

7. Focus on Areas of Interest: Prayaas allows children to use their creative minds and develop abstract thinking by keeping individual differences in consideration of each and every child.

8. Teachers As Facilitators: Teachers are trained weekly and involved in making decisions regarding everything in the school.

9. Fees: Prayaas charges a very reasonable fee.

Education in Prayaas is independent of the traditional teaching-learning programme. It prepares its children for the future as independent well beings.

We can say that Prayaas: “Ek Nayi Koshish Shiksha Ki Or”.

You can read more about Prayaas here.

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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.

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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.

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.

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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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Find out more about the campaign here.

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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.”

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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, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
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