Initiative to teach school students democratic values

Desh Apnayen Sahayog Foundation, an NGO, has launched Actizen, a two-phased pan-India online contest, to test not only the academic but also the practical skills of students from Class VII to Class IX.

Vallabh Bhansali, founder and chief mentor of the NGO, on Thursday said, “The objective is to teach students how to practise democracy as a value and thus usher in ‘Democracy- 2.0’, in which the young ‘Actizens’ will learn to empower themselves to work with the government.”

Climate change top issue

According to a survey conducted by the NGO in 40 schools across 15 States, pollution and climate change emerged as the top issues. The survey found that Maharashtra had maximum students stating pollution and climate change as the most crucial problems, followed by corruption, and cleanliness and health.

While the female respondents said crime and security, and corruption were their second and third choices respectively, their male counterparts chose corruption and lack of quality education as their second and third choices. The poll led the NGO to believe in creating a foundation encouraging students and getting their ideas on how to tackle some of the biggest problems faced by the country.

The Actizen contest is scheduled to reach out to several thousand schools. The first stage will be based on multiple choice questions, fill-in-the-blanks, problem-solving questions, and activity-based questions. There is also a 15-minute social work programme, where students will get real-time experience of social work in the neighbourhood.

The second phase will encourage students to come up with innovative solutions to problems assigned to them. Ten best entries will be presented in front of a jury, of which three will be selected. Along with certificates and awards, the three best ideas will be turned into movies by the team that directed Dangal.

Heartfelt message

Padma Shri awardee and Olympic medalist Gagan Narang, through a video message, extended his appreciation to the project. “The young can achieve milestones if they receive a structure and proper support.”

Discussing the three ideas — citizenship education, volunteerism, and neighbourhood — of the NGO, Parth J. Shah, founder and president of the Centre for Civil Society and Director of Indian School of Public Policy, said, “Good policies and governance can impact a nation dramatically when combined with citizenship education, volunteering and community action.”

Source: The Hindu