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Sunday, January 31, 2016

What We Were Upto - October – December 2015

Rooting the school curriculum in the local adivasi culture has been an important concern for us. Use of the local Bareli language for smaller classes, the freedom to talk in their own language, singing folk songs are a routine part of school life of children here. Anniversaries of adivasi freedom fighters are also celebrated to re-enforce a sense of pride in the children about their society. This is important because the text books hardly tell anything about adivasi history.
Birsa Munda Jayanti
Children participated in the Birsa Munda Jayanti celebration held in Sendhwa. Acquainting children with Adivasi history is part of the formal and informal curriculum at Adharshila and is one of the key themes of the education programme. In school also children sing songs and enact stories based on the lives of Adivasi Freedom Fighters.

Indal is an adivasi ceremony performed by an individual or village on completion of a vow. The ceremony lasts the whole night. Branches of the Kadamb tree are erected and the village pujaara performs the rituals. Goats and hens are sacrificed. Villagers from many villages come to participate in the ceremony.
For the last three four years the stated machinery and Hindu religious organisations have been trying to change the Indal ceremony by saying that this is the Indra devata and no animal sacrifice should take place. They bring Brahmin purohits who do havans. This year they declared a big programme to make a temple of the Indra devata where the Chief Minister was also coming as the main guest.
The Adivasi Mukti Sangathan and other adivasi organisations held a meeting to raise awareness about the issue. The adivasi children from Adharshila prepared a play to show how the actual ritual is supposed to be performed with songs for the meeting.

Shivirs of senior children are a regular feature to discuss general interest topics, subject topics and art and craft. It has been seen that children become free in workshop mode and like to change the classroom format of learning.
·      History Shivir – The main purpose of this was to counter the mainstream narrative being spread about Muslims and to avoid misinterpretation of the history lesson on Mughals.
·      Kheti Shivir – This was four day shivir. The children went around the village talking to elders and farmers. They understood the importance of maintaining biodiversity in farming. They also learnt about traditional practices and seeds which are now lost.
·      Portrayal of women in children’s stories – The children were asked to critically examine the portrayal of women and girls in school texts and also other stories from the library. They also reflected on the status of women in their society during the shivir.
·      Lantern Making

A lantern making workshop was held before Diwali. This is gradually becoming a tradition as this was the third consecutive year. The senior children and teachers transfer the skill to the younger children.
Craft and Drawing Workshops
Many other craft and drawing workshops were conducted - Origami Workshop, Rangoli Workshop and Drawing Workshop
Nasha Mukti Diwas
A two day programme was held wherein each class did different activity – learnt songs, did a survey in the village to find the expense on liquour, heard stories of struggles to stop liquor shops and learnt about the ill affects of habitual liquour consumption.
World Food Day
Discussions were held around the theme of food security. Children were shown various types of millets. A lesson was made about millets in Hindi and English. Children took interviews of elders and came to know that people dont have most millet seeds.
Children are involved in all the work of the campus. Cleaning, cooking, farm, tending the cows and bulls, maintaining the gobar gas plant, cleaning solar panels, masonary repairs. Mainly this term children were involved in farm work. Some groups made their own plots and planted methi. The older children constructed steps on the entrance slope to stop the soil erosion.
Ten groups have been made and assigned different duties. There is a long list of ‘mantrees’ to look after various.

Farming Calendar
We reaped a bumper harvest of Louki. >5quintal froma 3 guntha plot
Worked on the calendar for 2016 on the theme of Farming. It became very tedious as we were not able to get good photographs. Many photographers didnt respond. At one point we left working on it as we were not sure about its sale as we decided that this year we will make it only if we get assured orders. It is still under the process and not sure if it will be printed. ..

Exercise-Play at Naatak Shivir, Pushkar, Rajasthan

The Naatak India Company directors were invited to do a theater workshop with youth in Rajasthan on the theme of child marriage. We conducted a seven day workshop during which the youth narrated their experiences through skits. The issue of child marriage was explored from various viewpoints and finally a play was made.
We are developing a new pedagogy for exploring real life issues based on the experience of the actors through theater – Explorations Through Theater.

·        Attended the SRUTI meet in Uttarakhand
·        Two day meeting to frame a response to the New Education Policy being promoted by MHRD. The meeting was organised Nayee Taleem Sangh, Wardha

Pro Reservation Rally
Reservation is a big issue for adivasi students. After the anti reservation stir in Gujarat and other places the adivasi students and other organisations took out a pro reservation rally in Barwani, the district headquarters. Teachers and ex students participated in  the programme.

Recognition of Work
The year end was an ego boost time. We were awarded the Mary Patil Smriti Puruskar by Mukt Shabd Prakashan, Mumbai and the Nayee Taleem Samiti, Wardha. It was an honour to speak in the same hall where Gandhiji held the first teacher training of Nayee Taleem teachers in Wardha.

An article was published in LiveMint in the special Giving Issue on Diwali - http://www.livemint.com/Leisure/hrgTu2CmdYZERoR1TaBc0M/The-school-on-the-hill.html
As a response to the article Adharshila received almost Rs. 1 Lakh in donations.
Another article was published in the Deccan Herald - http://www.deccanherald.com/content/517100/brightening-lives-tribals.html
News reports of the Award functions were published in Marathi newspapers –

Volunteers and Researcher
Three MA Education students from Azim Premji Institute. Besides teaching English, Math, Social Science and Science subjects they engaged the senior students in discussion on depiction of girls and women in stories which led to a general discussion on women in adivasi society. Another volunteer was teaching the Mughal Invasion chapter in History. We realised that the chapter was adding to the mainstream anti muslim narrative . This led to a lot of discussion and a workshop on the issue with children and the volunteers.
Another researcher stayed with us for a month to observe the behaviour of children for his PhD.
A friend from Sendhwa is helping in English teaching in the primary classes.

·        Rekha and Anil Kumar, Patna – to understand the Adharshila model before starting a school in Bihar.
·        Adivasi Teachers from Bhagwanpura tehsil of Barwani district to buy adivasi literature.
·        Friends from Gwalior
·        Rakesh, filmmaker from Barwani

·        Adivasi activists from Gujarat and Maharashtra.