From teaching children about mental health issues to raising awareness about plastic pollution, some schools in India and abroad are going beyond conventional education to raise informed students. Here are a few examples:
1. Waste plastic as school fee
At a school outside Dispur in Assam, students are required to bring up to 20 items of plastic collected from their homes and the local area every week. According to a study published in 2018 in the journal Science Advances, an estimated 6.3 billion metric tons of plastic waste has accumulated over the past six decades. Until last year, education at Akshar Forum school was reportedly free of cost but the school has now decided to introduce the plastic ‘fee’ as a way to encourage parents and their children to take part in a recycling scheme.
2. Sanitary napkin vending machines for girl students
Kerala recently made sanitary napkin vending machines mandatory in all higher secondary schools. The state government has reportedly mandated all schools to have vending machines from the beginning of the new academic year, as part of their ‘She Pad’ scheme which aims to provide sanitary pads to all girl students. This, of course, is a welcome move especially when a lot of women in the country are still unaware of menstrual hygiene and do not have access to sanitary napkins.
3. Teaching mindfulness as a subject
Around 370 schools in England have reportedly introduced mindfulness, breathing and relaxation exercises in their curriculum in an effort to raise awareness among children about mental health. Mindfulness, which entails tuning our senses are being aware of our thoughts and emotions, is known to improve a child’s focus while reducing stress and anxiety. The initiative is being led by the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families in partnership with University College London. The mental health trial is expected to run in the schools until 2021.