Schools

Pedalling with seeds

It has been exactly 200 years since German aristocrat Baron Karl von Drais decided to replace his horse with a ride that didn’t need to be fed and groomed. It was this pedal-less contraption — the Laufmaschine or Draisine as it was referred to back then — that evolved into the modern-day bicycle.

Now, Nomad Walks, a community for travellers that focuses on conservation, is collaborating with Pondicherry Citizen’s Action Network, PondyCAN, to celebrate the second centenary of the bicycle in a very special way. Three cycling enthusiasts, Gobinath Mounissamy, Vimal Kumar and Aloor Niranjan, plan to span a distance of 600 kilometres on their bikes, sowing what they call “seeds of change” all across that journey.

The schedule

The seeds of change they refer to are both metaphorical and real. As part of the journey, they will visit and spend time at four schools that offer alternative education, including Sristi Village near Thiruvakkarai, the Marudam Farm School at Tiruvannamalai, the Cuckoo Forest School at Puliyanur and the Puvidham Nursery and Primary school in Nagarkoodal. “We are carrying seed balls to these schools and we will plant them there,” explains Mounissamy, who will stay for two days at each school, helping as well as learning from them. “It is a great way to share ideas,” he remarks.

Alternative education is something PondyCAN has been enthusiastic about ever since their inception. The Seeds of Change programme was instituted to make young people more aware of their environment, and create a spirit of civic consciousness among them. This is done through the introduction of environmental audits, competitions, bird-watching sessions and waste segregation training, all with the goal of “introducing them to various facets of Nature and different eco-systems,” explains Natesa Iyer of PondyCAN.

This cycling trip is an extension of that same ideology. Mounissamy, who first came up with the idea, explains that he has always had a passion for alternate education. “I have been looking for schools that offer this sort of education for the past few years,” he says. According to him, these schools not just expand children’s minds and imagination, but also instil in them a strong sense of concern for the environment. For instance, “all these schools that we plan to visit practise organic farming,” he says.

The ride, that will be flagged off at 6 am on June 24 at the Gandhi Statue, is an open one. “Anyone can join, but they will have to take care of their own food and stay,” says Mounissamy, pointing out that the team is depending on the generosity of the various schools to host them. He hopes to document the entire process and share his learnings with other schools in Puducherry, that are part of the Seeds of Change programme. “I keep hearing people complain about our education system all the time. I wanted to find a solution for this,” he laughs.

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Printable version | Apr 18, 2021 9:06:50 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/education/schools/pedalling-with-seeds/article19125786.ece

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