Children’s Parliament: Who can manage the school better than them?

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Initiated by teacher Ashutosh Dubey, this children’s parliament is solving problems in government schools in democratic ways that are more efficient and effective than most schemes and policies.

Ashutosh Dubey’s excitement of working as a teacher was short lived when he saw the lack of teaching staff and mismanagement in the Government Primary School in Talagram village of Kannauj district, where he was appointed four years ago.

“Everything was haywire when I joined the school. How can strength of 235 students be managed by only 2 teachers? Children hardly had any interest in studies. They had little self-confidence and were unable to express themselves properly,” he said.

He pointed out that an old school building was razed before he joined the school but the debris were still lying there, making the premises dirty.

Dubey could have simply adjusted to the anomalies like others before him, but the innovative teacher in him nudged him to push his boundaries and come up with a solution that could help improve the quality of education in the school and also help the students in the long run.

Little did he know that his small idea will bring a revolution in improving the quality of education in government schools and develop a sense of responsibility and discipline among students.

Dubey introduced the concept of Children’s Parliament in his school in 2014. In this, students desirous to participate can get themselves nominated. After this, all the students, teachers, school administration and parents assemble together and select the members of the student parliaments through an election process, or based on students’ interests and abilities, or competitive examinations.

After the election, students are elected for the posts of prime minister, deputy prime minister, speaker, deputy speaker, ministers, deputy ministers and members of committees of associated ministries. The selected members are then administered the oath to fulfil their responsibilities.

Various committees, which the elected members oversee with guidance from teachers, include Committees on home affairs, education, health and hygiene, sports, culture and art, mid-day meal, guardians group, library and alumni students.

The Parliament meets on a weekly or monthly basis, presided over by the president and the prime minister jointly, with teachers and guests as representative of the students. Issues faced by students and that of the school are discussed in these meetings and solutions are found through mutual discussions and brainstorming.
“Children’s parliament removes the gap between the teachers and students. When a student shares the stage with his teacher as the head of his cabinet, it enhances his/her confidence and leadership skills. Once given the responsibility, the cabinets oversee the work, like health and hygiene and mid-day meals,” Dubey said.
The teacher said that he got the debris cleared off the school premises with the help of children and also encouraged them to initiate a plantation drive in the school after the formation of the children’s parliament.
He had been using this innovative method in his school and witnessing significant changes in students where they have started expressing themselves inside and outside the class. They are disciplined and have developed a sense of belonging to school.

The reach of his small, yet effective idea expanded after he attended the teacher orientation program of Sri Aurobindo Society’s Zero Investment Innovations for Education Initiatives (ZIIEI) in 2015.

He presented his idea and was able to document it through ZIIEI, making it possible to reach out to government school teachers who are struggling with limited resources in remotest parts of the country.

Till date, Children’s Parliament is being adopted in over 50,000 schools across the country.

“Before ZIIEI, there was no platform for teachers to express their creativity and give suggestions to improve the quality of education in government schools. We have been following the traditional way of teaching from years,” he said.

Appreciating ZIIEI for documentation of different innovations by teachers, Dubey said that it is a much-needed platform for teacher fraternity to share and adopt new ways of doing things.

He said that apart from his innovation, he has adopted ideas given by other teachers from the state for overall development of children and to improve learning outcomes.

“I liked the ideas of art and craft for holistic development and concept mapping. I’m implementing these in my schools. This has led to creation of a healthy, constructive learning environment and improvement in the quality of teaching,” he concluded.