What children want

The demand is for more democratic school spaces

“Let me hold my pen the way I want to.”

“Let us manage the finances of our annual day.”

“Let us perform those science experiments too, not just watch them.”

These are just some of the demands students have this Children’s Day, with the wishes suggesting a desire for more democratic spaces at school.

Explaining the need to allow children to voice their opinion at school, Shreyas Potdar, a class 12 student, says that allowing children to be involved in some of the decision-making at school would be a step towards preparing them for adulthood. “Doing simple things like managing the finances for our own annual day events and having teachers supervise us will allow us to learn from our experiences. Learning should not be from textbooks alone,” he says.

Ritu Hiremath, a class 7 student, says she would love it if schools give more importance to practicals than theory. She also wishes they had more extra-curricular activities such as cooking classes to make school more fun. “Nobody misses PT classes, visual performing arts or club activities because they like them,” she says.

The wish lists have a few instructions for teachers as well. For instance, Maheen Khan, a class 9 student, says students should be allowed to interrupt teachers in class to share their ideas and experiences. “It would be nice if students are allowed to talk about the topic that the teacher is teaching. Also, although teachers say we can ask doubts at the end of the class, they sometimes question us and ask us what we were doing when they were teaching,” she says.

A seven-year-old student says he often gets bogged down as his teacher insists that he not hold his pen at a slant. “My handwriting is very neat but my teacher insists that I hold my pen straight. If I don’t, she punishes me,” he says.

Working with schools

To help school managements and teachers make schools and colleges more democratic spaces, the Children’s Movement for Civic Awareness (CMCA) has decided to launch a Charter for Democratic Citizenship and Human Rights programme. “We see that the educational institution greatly influences the child and his disposition towards democratic citizenship, respect, dignity, participation, non-discrimination and inclusion,” says Priya Krishnamurthy, managing trustee of CMCA.

CMCA has already reached out to government and private schools and is in the process of working with principals and teachers on making spaces, interactions and relationships at education institutions more “free”. “We want simple things like changing the seating arrangement that will facilitate group activity, forming students’ councils, installing suggestion boxes at schools, and helping teachers redesign teaching plans,” she adds.

It would be nice if students are allowed to talk

in class about the topic that the teacher is teachingMaheen Khan,Class 9 student

Simple things like managing the finances for our own annual day...will allow us to learn from our experiences

Shreyas Potdar,

Class 12 student

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