Why this project?
Inquisitiveness and creation are the two fundamental wheels that drive education. According to the leading linguist of the 21st century, Noam Chomsky, “the core principle and requirement of fulfilled human being is the ability to inquire and create constructively, independently without any external controls.” Reachout Foundation is not only an organization that believes in holistic development of the society, it also trusts in establishing the misplaced and vanishing values of cerebral freedom and ingenious sovereignty.
In Reachout we believe that it is the young minds that can be nurtured and empowered with curiosity, critical thinking, open mindedness, compassion and empathy. Therefore the Foundation has been consistently working with the students and teachers to facilitate experiences that will help them identify discrimination in the day to day behavior in the schools, in the form of bullying, teasing, favouritism and silent treatment.
The Journey and its Impact…
In tandem, Reachout Foundation in the year 2017-18 embarked on an endeavor to create awareness about discrimination that is apparent as a structural crisis, which has a detrimental effect on our way of living.
Children: The Ambassadors of Change
Reachout sees children as the most important stakeholders in addressing discrimination. They are subtle and sensitive to changes around them. Living in a world which feeds on exclusion, power, corruption and indifference to humanity, we find children emulating the same. Henceforth it was imperative to head start the project at school level to develop a consciousness towards compassion, empathy, identification and understanding.
- THE INDIA PROJECT: SAY NO TO DSICRIMINATION was the project commenced by the Foundation where students of class 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th participated from Delhi, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Bihar and Kashmir.
- The project was carried out for three consecutive years- 2017, 2018 and 2019.
- The number of students enrolled in the project for the year 2017 were 657, in 2018 there were 700 students and finally in 2019 the strength of the students was 650.
- Total number of teachers involved was 137.
- The Principal of Alok Bharti Public School, Ms. Sudha Gemini, the nodal school, in Delhi aligned with the vision of the project. In the introductory session we found how students recurringly faced episodes of discrimination on the basis of skin color, height, weight, wearing spectacles and surnames. As the project progressed, we found how there was a concealed but detectable divide between “underachievers” and “overachievers”. Eventually the children also questioned their respective teachers about favoritism in class.
- Transformation was seen as children and teachers came together and built a better team.
- Children and teachers became sensitive to the needs of their differently abled classmates and students who were not academically inclined.
- Students spread awareness against discrimination to their parents and neighbors too.
- One could see how students and teachers were changing the whole narrative of discrimination that was perceptible in an institution where learning and molding of young minds is implemented.
- Further discernment and recognition of gender discrimination, biases is schools was addressed.
Reaching Out: Exploring Multicultural Diversity
Cognizance of diversity amongst various North Eastern states of India, sensitivity towards the variegated economic, political, cultural and social settings was engendered amongst the students through the Letter Exchange Program amongst the students of the above mentioned states. As there is a dearth of knowledge when it comes to the North East Indian history, the students of Delhi acquired information about the local culture and freedom fighters of North East India. Students became aware of how each state of North East India is different from the other, in every cultural aspect.
The letter exchange program was a way to identify how we all are different yet we are facing the same storm of discrimination. It was valuable to nurture empathy and kindness, to mature a human connect and cultivated a sense of mindfulness and attentiveness against discrimination. We realized how essence of humanity lies in not only learning, but unlearning and relearning