Aadharshila Earth Summit
27th August to 6th September 2002
Children are sitting in groups of 12 – 14 with one teacher. Suresh is saying that if every thing is made near our village then we don’t need to bring things from Delhi or Indore. Then we will not need big roads and so many trucks. The air will not be polluted and farm land will not be taken for making roads.
This is the Adharshila Prithvi Sammelan’s fourth day. Suresh is in the Transport Group discussing the damage to the environment caused due to transportation.
The other groups are discussing the damages caused due to Modern Farming, Electricity Production by Big Dams, Coal and Nuclear Plants; and the third group is on Pollution due to Industry.
They are not just discussing the problems but have solutions too, like Suresh. With the start of the Earth Summit in Johannesburg about 56 children aged 11 –14 of the Adharshila Shikshan Kendra are participating in the Adharshila Prithvi Sammelan. The first day began by introducing the Summit. Where is Jahonnesburg? Who are participating and who are not? The children were shown paper cuttings about the Summit. Who is Rashida bai and why has she gone with a Jhadu? What happened in Bhopal? Who are protesting outside the Summit? What is Greenpeace? The main issues of environmental degradation were told to the children – that the earth’s land, water and air are getting polluted. Forests are depleting.
On the second day the two main issues of the Summit were raised – removal of poverty and protection of the environment. The relationship of greed, affluence, and environmental degradation was outlined. So do you want motorcycles and televisions and computers – yes they all said. Then what will happen to the environment? We should have motorcycles which don’t pollute, solar energy…..every body started talking. This was the crux of the matter – we want development but in a manner which doesn’t spoil the earth. Words like tikau vikas ( sustainable development) were introduced.
Four groups were made on the third day to identify the environmental problems in agriculture, electricity, transport and industry and search for solutions. Amulya of CEHAT, Pune and Vaniya of Ranikajal Jeevanshala, Jhabua were with us on this day for a short while. Amulya was very impressed by the children and promptly gave the news to his journalist friend in Badwani – use of telecommunication industry. The children and teachers were very excited on seeing the news in Dainik Bhaskar.
The fifth and sixth day the attendance was low due to rains. On these days the children argued their suggestions. Other children questioned them. If we don’t have pesticides what will happen to pests? The teacher told them about neem [a local tree] and tobacco pesticide. After finalising the solutions we started thinking as to how to present all this. Some children decided to make drawings, some prepared talks. Songs and slogans were made. A lot of children wrote stories. The next two days were spent in doing this.
On the last day a quiz based on the Earth Summit was given to the children. At two in the afternoon the final ceremony started. We were joined by Shri Jagdish Kirade, Jayasingh Kirade of Kunjari village who help us run the school; Shri Gajanand Brahmane and Shri Bijoy Panda of Adivasi Mukti Sangathan and two trustees – Shri Dinesh Solanki and Shri Bapu Kapure.
The four groups wrote their suggestions on chart papers and read them out. The suggestions were wide ranging--making villages and areas self sufficient to reduce traffic of trucks, banning all polluting factories, using traditional seeds and organic manure in farming and banning chemical fertilizers and pesticides, generating electricity from windmills and using solar energy.
Then the children presented various songs, poems and stories on topics related to environment, prepared by them during the Earth Summit. Suklal, Kamal, and Geeta told stories. Sunil and the Krishna Group children presented a song. Vandana recited a poem. Munna a 6th class student, who also teaches the KG class recited a poem that he has made to teach the children names of days.
In the end the guests told the children about various enviromental problems and peoples struggles. Gajanand urged the students not to stop at this summit and make these activities a regular part of the school.
In the end the children were asked to take a pledge that we should see that our actions don’t harm the earth and the poor.
The Summit is over… we will now think seriously about acting on what we have learnt in these ten days. ______________________________________
A team of children is preparing a short drama and songs for the Jungle Bachao Yatra. The school will now start work on soil bunding and water conservation on the school land. In the past years the children have made a lot of bunds, the result of which is that a small spring has come out in the previously dry valley in the school premises. This has filled us with promise and the work of saving the earth goes on. The children enjoyed the Earth Summit a lot and the teachers also felt that this was a very nice way of learning and we can use this method to learn other school topics also.