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The Oasis Effect Of Dummy Schools: Exploiting Expectations And Misconceptions

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Our cities have beautiful structures whose grandeur often attracts our attention. Nowadays visiting a school feels the same. The parameters to measure an educational institution’s efficacy are now wholly based on the amenities it provides. Kjo’s movies are permeating its effects on our schools, which now boast of five-star facilities like horse stables, gymnasium and swimming pools.

But for learning, we have now diverted our attention to another medium — Coaching Institutes. The genesis of the word “coach” means to train and enhance one’s performance but with growing competition and the urge to outperform others. This inherent role of mentors has taken a backseat and business tendencies are now controlling the steering wheel. Dummy schools are the emerging business empires thriving on the anomalies of the education system.

Duplicate Maal

Irrfan Khan
A dummy school is like a duplicate Sabyasachi lehenga.

Millennials today are all about fusion, #modernsanskari. We can bring almost two unrelated things together, for instance, “Tandoori paneer- Pizza”, “Noodle- Samosa”. But our imagination is not restricted up till here.

Although Dummy School is not exactly an oxymoron, it is no less a hysterical mix. We are all aware that our favourite markets like Chandni Chowk and Sarojini have duplicates and dummies of authentic brands, but we have now come far enough to create replicas of educational institutions too. The sole purpose of these institutions, like a duplicate Sabyasachi lehenga, is to get that sudden satisfaction, i.e. to clear an exam is the threshold of happiness, as suggested by them.

Science vs Social Science

Dummy schools have developed another trend of unnecessary attention being given to STEM courses. These subjects are considered practical in their approach. But how many times in these institutes have students performed an actual lab experiment.

Engineers bag all the jobs today in India. Is it because they are smart, or is it just that there are so many? However, destiny is not so simple. The boring and repetitive social science comes back to the picture when there is a desire for a government office seat. Then we again revisit those old textbooks which were never taught in these dummy institutions.

Bas Yeh Aur Exam Pass Kar Lo

Often, a misconception is created in children’s minds that “once you clear the entrance exams, you can fully enjoy your college life with all its glitter, fests and parties”. But dummy institutes fail to nurture students with values and principles. They merely focus on creating ready robots to join the race of life, pushing students in the dark cave of laborious assignments, loneliness and depression.

So, it is high time that we stop fantasising about the future by making our present miserable.

A Yearly Package

We take pride in the magnanimity of our scriptures. But unlike the tricks and shortcut methods used to clear a simple test, it was not the way scholars like Kalidasa used to write their dramas. Guidebooks and tricks have now replaced actual learning.

Earlier education in India was restricted only to male Brahman society. But today although this has changed and education has reached the doorsteps of all, we have not left the old metaphor of padhoge likhoge banoge hoshiyar behind. Instead, we’ve modified this version and the new mantra is science aur bio se rahoge aage arts lekar ho jaoge kharab.

We Cannot Lose Another Stark

Knowledge without character is disastrous, just like Thanos with the infinity stones.

The Indian educational structure has become stagnant where conventional courses and methods are applied even now. Ideas, concepts and dimensions are to be explored in a classroom. “Knowledge without character” is disastrous, just like Thanos with the infinity stones.

Today education has taken a departure from creating citizens who are sensitive towards their private and social environment. Kids believe that studies are just a temporary burden that will end with a good yearly package in the end. We are growing every day, aspiring for new avenues for which doing a job is a necessity.

However, learning is not just restricted to that. Also, it is quite laughable that most of us are not even doing the job we studied so hard in school. Many of us are not living our dreams because we are living our fears.

We look for enjoyment in every small thing we do, but should learning be boring? Even after writing so much about dummy schools, we know that they are here to stay.

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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, 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
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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