Giving due prominence to ‘swachh abhiyan’ over enrollment, retention and quality education, the focus of the day long ‘chintan shivir’ organised by the Ahmedabad Municipal School Board Monday remained cleanliness despite the board facing the aggravating issue of losing its students to private schools each academic session.
Right from the selection of venue, Environmental Sanitation Institute (ESI) near Gandhinagar for the brainstorming session that was attended by over 90 participants, including block resource centre (BRC) co-ordinators, cluster resource centre (CRC) co-ordinators, District Institute of Education and Training (DIET) principals and lecturers, supervisors, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) project staff members, school board assistant and deputy administrative officers, the session revolved around swachh abhiyan be it schools, village or neighbourhood.
Jayesh Patel, the director of ESI, a non-government organisation (NGO) based on the Gandhian values of environmentalism and born out of its mother NGO Safai Vidyalaya at Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad spoke about the importance of cleanliness and how this habit can be inculcated among children.
Patel is son-in-law of Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel and son of Padmashri Ishwarbhai Patel, who devoted his life to the cause of removal of untouchability, uplift of scavengers and sweepers and upgradation of rural and urban health and sanitation through ‘Safai Vidyalaya’.
“We should know that 80 per cent of diseases spread due to unclean water and lack of hygiene. Keeping this in mind, we plan to celebrate 15 days entirely devoted to swachh abhiyan in the month of May with day to day cleanliness celebrations, including school, house, surrounding and city,” the Administrative Officer of AMC school board L D Desai stressed upon during his session that was scheduled on enrollment and retention in municipal schools.
To ensure the message of cleanliness goes well across the participants, apart from lecturers on cleanliness, the participants were also shown documentary films based on the same theme. While a few of these in Hindi were made in the form of a satire themed on the popular Hindi film Sholay where look alike of the actors enacted giving short messages like ‘washing hands with soap after using toilet’; ‘not to dip hands in the drinking water’; ‘washing hands with soap before having meals’.
Also, a nearly 10 minute animated documentary in Gujarati with local songs sent across the message of how cleanliness changed lives, brought health and prosperity to a family of four in a village that had previously ignored the importance of hygiene.
During the inauguration of ‘chintan shivir’, Health Minister Shankar Chaudhary also made a brief appearance though his name was not in the schedule. Invoking Mahatma Gandhi and Bhagat Singh, he stressed upon the role of teachers and how they should rise above self centered approach and work for the society without any expectation.
The ‘chintan shivir’ is a part of education department’s initiative of introspection and planning for future on ways to improve the education standard in government schools across the state.