July 2010

Dear friends,

Adharshila completed it’s twelfth year. The world of school education has been set on the path of far reaching changes. On the one hand there is increasing awareness about the shortcomings of the existing school system amongst the middle and elite class. This has led to more and more people searching for alternatives within and outside the school system.

The Govt. on its part is trying to change the statistics of literacy and school going children and has brought in the Free and Compulsory Education Act. It is also trying to shed off its own responsibilty to give good education to these children and wants to put it in the lap of private sector and NGOs. It is trying to do more of the same without recognizing that this school system has failed us. We need to think more creatively than this.

The most dangerous thing is happening, as usual, in the villages where a whole generation is being misled by the false promise of prosperity that schooling will bring. It is well known that only 2% children, of those enrolled in the 1st, pass the 12th class. The schools are creating an army of youngsters who want quick money. If we look at this fact in conjunction with the trend of farm land getting converted to real estate, and being bought by city people, forced schooling almost looks like a designed strategy for land grab.

Cynicists! You will say. Always looking at the negative side. Well reality is grim. It may not look so from where we sit, comfortably.

We strongly think the discussion on education should go beyond schools, rules, shams and acts. It is a time to revisit the basics of education – the meaning of the word, the aims, the ideals. Also the link of education with creating opportunities for not just livelihoods but living honest and dignified lives. And lastly to create citizens for an India, a society, a nation envisaged in the constitution - Democratic, Secular, Equal, Just, Socialist (removed from the Preamble without any public debate). Adharshila is an attempt to understand the nitty gritty of edcuation, from the child to the curriculum, the ideals and issues and search for alternative ways of learning – theatre, singing, walks, schools with class and classless schools.

We don’t contend to have got the magic wand. But the effort has been honest and. We have some learnings. Others can use them too if they are interested, but we don’t insist…

Happy reading.

Amit and Jayashree

Read the 2009-2010 Annual Report