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Children As Decision Makers

Children As Decision Makers 

The brains behind the education initiative, starting with a village library at Gopalganj in Bihar, discussed on several operational aspects of the library. The discussions ranged from identifying mentors to allocation of a safe place where the library’s resources should be kept. Also, how will the children be managed? Alas, with every passing moment while sitting with such bright children, things turned out to be so simple!
 
The initial lot of 24 children assembled in the ‘cultural centre’ of the village. This space was suggested by the mentor, Shri Chabinath Rai, who is also a retired teacher from the same village. He always has been a source of inspiration owing to his passion for the education of all. Though, we had a discussion with all the children for a perfect venue as there is also a nearby Government primary school which can be utilised for the purpose. Their response was overwhelming as they just demanded a ‘mat’ to sit and read. Prayog gave them an option for arranging chairs/ desks and bench but it was rejected by them citing that most of them sit on mats in their schools. They also asked for a box or almirah where the resources of library can be kept safely.
 
A huge mat which can easily be used for sitting 40 children as well as a trunk box has been arranged for the library. An almirah is due where books can be kept serially. Each member was also provided a register and pen.
 
Activities that motivated the children:
 
We often read and hear to keep things simple. In the beginning, there was a knock-out game played by all the members. The game was the simplest one that most of us have played while sitting as back benchers in our student days, ‘tic-tac-toe’. One, Ayush Kumar who is a Class 8th student emerged as the champion defeating students of Class 10th as well as the lone under-grad in the lot. Ayush, is the youngest son of Shri Arvind Rai and Smt. Neelam Rai, both of whom are teachers in the village school. The game proved to be an energizer!
 
Knock-out round in progress  
Knockout Round in Progress
This was followed by a round of introduction, where children were paired. Each pair had to give an introduction of their partner. This was such a fun! They asked for some time to discuss with their partners, spread out from the venue and moved to the fields near by school and returned in 15 minutes.
Shubham Kumar introducing Sonali Kumari (to his left in the pic)
After the ice-breaking exercise, a format was circulated to each one of them. This format was to know more about them and to keep a record. The questions were on personal details, family background, age and class of study, their interests in the ongoing education they are getting, their aspirations, how would they benefit from the library and their vision for the future of this library.
Responding a questionnaire on their thoughts and aspirations and personal details
Mangerial skills of children is something that should always be kept in mind. It is this basic instinct that we mis-judge while their growing days. When given a challenge of how to take care of all the children through this initiative, one Akash Kumar suggested to break-down into groups that would be easily manageable. Four groups have been formed with each group having a captain. The captains were nominated through discussions amongst the group members with each group having justifications for nomination.
Group captains (L-R: Akanksha, Sandeep, Akash and Manmohan) labelling the books
Besides all this, the group discussion has also lead to provide a structure to the library. They decided on the use of register and framed a ‘rule book’ for running the library.
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