Friday, August 14, 2020

Jagrik: Educating Aware Citizens

 ‘Jagrik: Educating Aware Citizens

15th August is a very special day for us Indians, because after over 200 years of being colonised, we finally got independence from British Rule. But freedom from foreign rule is not the same as freedom from suffering and injustice. Freedom from those things requires us to become aware citizens, and understand our rights and responsibilities towards our beloved country. 

On this Independence Day, we would like to throw light on our new class- ‘Jagrik’, devoted entirely to this cause.

‘Jagrik’ is a combination of two Hindi words:  ‘Jagruk’ (aware) and ‘Nagrik’ (citizen), i.e. it is a

Jagrik Class Before Lockdown
portmanteau word. The name captures the essence of this class perfectly – to proactively spread awareness and to understand what steps we can take to create a sustainable future. ‘Jagrik’ is a citizenship awareness class started by Ravi Bhaiya in mid-January, when protest and riots were happening all across India because of CAA and NRC. We wanted to know more about this wonderful class, and our editor- Tulsi had a conversation with the volunteer teachers – Nirvan and Prerna. Here is a brief transcript of the conversation.

Tulsi: So, what is the objective behind the Jagrik class and what do you want to achieve from it?

Prerna: One of our primary objectives is to spread awareness amongst the youngsters so that they become engaged citizens. As Ravi Bhaiya describes it, we have a very rich constitution, but many of us do not know much about the document.

Nirvan: And also discussing the ideals of the constitution and the functioning of the government. Our responsibility is to gather information, to question and to be aware. So, the utmost focus is on gathering information, discussing and coming up with arguments and solutions.

Tulsi: What is the need for such classes for the youth?

Nirvan: After talking to our students, we realized that school only lays a foundation. To be a truly aware citizen, you need much more. A school textbook gives certain facts that can be viewed from different lenses and perspectives. However, at ‘Jagrik’, we try to think outside the box, inculcating a sense of responsibility in our students, towards their country and the environment, at large.

Tulsi: What is the age group of the students attending the class?

Nirvan: We have students from Classes 11 and 12, as well as working individuals till the age of 22 years.

Jagrik Class After Lockdown
Tulsi: What topics have you covered up until now?

Nirvan: We have broadly covered CAA, NRC, the Constitution, our fundamental rights, and the difference between local elections, state elections, local body and national elections. We have also conducted 2-3 sessions on COVID-19 since a lot of people were misinformed. Recently, we have started focusing on empowering the students to make a change in their community. Currently, lack of public washrooms for students is our main focus and we are trying to resolve this issue at the earliest. We helped students understand the working of the government bodies and their role in providing funds for basic amenities. This indeed will help them further, to question the local governing bodies regarding serious issues like potholes on roads, shortage of electricity supply, etc.

Tulsi: Can you tell us what medium you use to teach and how many students there are in the class?

Prerna: Since we began teaching remotely due to the Coronavirus, we have around 7-8 students. We have mostly discussion-based classes. We use videos and news articles to share information with our students and to stimulate conversation.

Tulsi: How has your experience been with the class as a teacher? Was there a particular moment in which you felt there was a positive change?

Prerna: One important thing that I have learnt is to keep the conversations and materials engaging and interesting for the students. Nirvan and I are continuously exchanging ideas, discussing what worked well with the students and what more can be done to make it a fun-learning experience for the students. It is difficult to say how successful we have been in helping the students because the time duration is very short. However, being able to just plant a seed in someone’s mind to think differently about a particular problem or a challenge in the community is change enough for me. I feel that this is happening slowly and steadily, and we will surely progress in the years to come.

Nirvan: I agree with Prerna di. Regarding learning, we have realized that it is as much learning for us as it is for the students because even we are developing the curriculum as we go along, and we need to keep evolving to make the class and conversations lively. We try to keep it interesting by making sure that no week is the same as the previous one, and there is no set protocol or curriculum as of now, so we rely on the students’ feedback.

Tulsi: What will you be doing in the class going forward?

Nirvan: Once we have taken our public toilets initiative to a certain level, we will focus again on the Constitution and the Constitutional Rights as it is the base document of all our rights and there is still a big difference between the current scenario as compared to that mentioned in the Constitution.

Tulsi: It was great talking to both of you and understanding the thought process behind ‘Jagrik’. Thank you for your precious time and all your answers.

Note: Some of our students at the ‘Jagrik’ class have also shared their experiences.We will be writing about the students’ learnings in the next issue. For more information, please keep reading our newsletters.

Transcripted by Vaibhav, Manzil Volunteer
Edited by Cailin,Manzil Volunteer

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