The education system in the country has been largely driven by competition-based learning. Parents, students,and teachers are on the same of race of scoring goods marks – the passport to getting into a high-profile institution. But inculcating intrinsic values is also conducive to learning.
Children’s Movement for Civic Awareness (CMCA) engages with students in schools, colleges, and youth clubs through Citizenship Education Programmes to impart knowledge and skills for the disposition to act for the betterment of their societies. It also works with government bodies to induce reforms in the way Civics/Citizenship is taught in schools and colleges in India.
Started in 2000 as a joint programme of Public Affairs Centre and Swabhimana, CMCA directly engages with 17,000 girls and boys in 300 secondary schools and colleges across 10 cities –Bengaluru, Hosur, Hubballi, Dharwad, Nagpur, Mysuru, Thiruvananthapuram, Mumbai, Pune, Kotagiri and Panchkula Chandigarh and 28 villages across Karnataka. CMCA became an independent entity as a registered Public Charitable Trust in June 2009.
When children explore their world in such an education system, they become intellectual adventurers and creative thinkers. Such creative learning becomes the foundation of a child finding his or her true potential and calling,” says Dr Yellappa Reddy, Trustee, CMCA.
The curriculum of CMCA is highly interactive aided by campaigns, audits, discussions, games and activities to specific expected outcomes.
The program is facilitated by CMCA’s 300 volunteers (called civic tutors) who conduct the weekly “Civic Club period” allotted by the school during its regular school time table. CMCA’s ecosystem comprises of its member schools, colleges, youth clubs, donors, partners, and volunteers.
Over the last one year, CMCA has recorded around 725 documented Acts of Active Citizenship. According to one of the members of CMCA, the civic club members of Government High Schools in Bengaluru, had learnt in their CMCA class about the right of children to free and compulsory education act. Moreover, it also inspired them to convince 10 migrant workers in their neighborhood to send their children to school.
The policy, research and advocacy department of CMCA collaborates with the government, civil society organisations, and academia to bring about change in the way civics is taught in India’s schools and colleges.
The sustained interest of the 300 schools over the last decade has proven their commitment to CMCA. The school management is oriented to the CMCA program at the beginning of the academic year after which the civic tutor is introduced to the school that carries out the program,” says Ashish Patel, CEO, CMCA.
The civic club is an association of students where the student’s participation in civic and environmental activities is promoted in a bid to spread the awareness on civic issues.
The program involves activities like debates, group discussions, role plays, and use of flash cards to imbibe concepts like democracy, development, diversity, equality, rights, responsibilities and civic sense.
Impact on the students
The garbage lying around in his neighbourhood had been bothering Sanjay, a student of Government High School, Puttenahalli, and other members of his locality for quite some time but nobody was doing anything to fix the problem.
One day, inspired and motivated by the CMCA’s Civic Club sessions, he called the BBMP helpline number and registered a complaint. The very next day, BBMP workers visited his locality and cleared out the garbage.
Gopireddi H Reddy of Lamington Boys High School, Hubbali, noticed that the drinking water that comes to his house was not fit to drink. He informed the water board, explained the problem and now potable water is being sent to his area by the water board.
Similarly, many children have been responsible for getting garbage cleared, street lights fixed or even manholes and drainages repaired by calling helplines because of the awareness raised by CMCA.
YuvaNagarik Meter Study
CMCA has also pioneered a study “YuvaNagarikMeter”on democratic citizenship among youth in urban India. The YuvaNagarik Meter (YNM) provides empirical data on the levels of knowledge, comprehension, attitudes, and values of young Indians pertaining to democratic citizenship. It covers issues like, rights & responsibilities, democratic governance, adherence to civic rules, gender equality, diversity &social justice and environmental conservation.
The objective of the study is to seek collaboration with educators, academia, government agencies, and civil society to make recommendations for reforms. CMCA is also reaching out to the HRD Ministry that is currently involved in framing the new National Education Policy, including the Central Advisory Board for Education and other central bodies in the education field.
CMCA has also initiated a number of campaigns in association with the students which includes clean- up in Mumbai and Thiruvananthapuram, eco-Diwali, eco-friendly Ganesha, RTE, solid waste management, and safety of the girl child. The campaigns are an extension of their experiential learning curriculum.
“CMCA’s intervention further encourages children to interact and share their learnings with those around them and participate in governance for the common good of the community. This is accomplished through campaigns and the participatory school profile,” says Ashish.