Delhi saw possibilities of a reimagined education at Teach for India’s Kids Education Revolution Summit

New Delhi: Teach For India, a non-profit organisation working towards the vision of an excellent education for all children, brought the 3rd Edition of ‘Kids Education Revolution’ National Summit to New Delhi on 8th and 9th February, 2020 at The American Embassy School. The summit was preceded by a unique and impactful opening ceremony- KER Night at K.V. Auditorium, Delhi Cantonment on 7th February.

An original programme from Teach For India’s Innovation Cell, Kids Education Revolution is an ambitious collective of organisations and schools, who have come together to reimagine education at scale and are driven by the power of student leadership. It seeks to empower students beyond what classroom teaching alone can offer.

In preparation of the summit, a retreat was organised for the participants of the programme, from 3rd to 6th February at Zorba the Buddha, a scenic meditation center at Ghitorni, New Delhi.

The retreat saw 108 children from 8 countries unite and work to shift the paradigms of the prevailing education systems around the world.

Shaheen Mistri, CEO, Teach For India had this to say about the event- “Imagine students working on problems and projects they choose and really care about alongside passionate and skilled people at all levels of the education system. Imagine children and adults shifting things by small, consistent, everyday actions of love- If we do this, everything else will improve. This is what the Kids Education Revolution is all about.”

Amongst some notable sessions were those by MTV Rap Star and Founder of US Based Non Profit- ‘Empty Hands Music’, Nimo Patel, who led an inspiring session on building a movement through and with love; and one on Entrepreneurship for Social Change by Aditya Nataraj from Piramal Foundation and Kaivalya.

The 100 revolutionaries left with a sense of increased confidence and fostered positive relationships that put them at the forefront of their individual educational journeys.

On 7th of February, over 700 attendees witnessed the magic of KER Night, an evening in celebration of student voice. The performances included street plays by students of Teach For India Delhi, moving spoken word performances by young poets from Slam Out Loud and a thought provoking panel discussion with student revolutionaries and dignitaries- Barkha Dutt, Amitabh Kant, Ashish Dhawan- moderated by Sandeep Rai, Chief of City Operations at Teach For India, and author of acclaimed novel- ‘Grey Sunshine’.

The student revolutionaries included Ridhima Pandey, dubbed as India’s Greta Thunberg. Later in the evening, Ridhima also led a TED Talk called ‘Save Our Future’ on why supporting student voice matters more than ever in our present climate crisis. She was also joined by Raghavendra Yadav, a Teach For India student from Mumbai who is running a student leadership and sustainable change organisation in his school, inspired by McKinsey’s consulting model; and Shiksha, a young student from Delhi who changed her given name to reflect her love for education- and is currently leading the charge for equitable education in her community.

The dignitaries on the panel also offered some valuable insights on the education system-

“There must be a huge focus on bringing in the best quality people to teach, there has to be passion and commitment. You can transform India by getting the best teachers in the system. “Amitabh Kant from Niti Aayog, says about why organisations like Teach For India are important.

Ashish Dhawan, founder and CEO of Central Square Foundation added, “Children are going to schools, but they are not aware of their rights, not aware of how to be absorbed into the workforce- and that is the challenge we need to fix”.

Moved by a TED Talk she saw from a young student- Nandini Kumari- on how Feminism brought her to a state of growth and peace after a jarring incident of domestic violence against her mother, Barkha Dutt, renowned journalist and speaker, had this to say, “I spent my life trying to mainstream feminism so it is accessible to people, I just saw a young woman (Nandini) take the stage and speak about her journey, and how feminism has brought her here. That’s the perfect example of a journey from grey to sunshine for me.”

The Summit, on 8th and 9th February 2020 saw close to 800 participants over two days, where educators, both from private and public schools like in Delhi came together with students to take part in Reimagining Sessions, to listen and learn from each other for a bright new vision of education for all. These participants included students and educators from notable schools like The Heritage School, Delhi Public Schools, Shiv Nadar School, DLF Foundation, DCM Group of Schools, amongst many more.

Among the highlights, from the summit was the “Museum of Grey Sunshine”- empowered by JSW Foundation and Tanvi Jindal’s Museum of Solutions- a pop-up museum experience, which showcased the truth and hope of the education system in India via various experience halls, which took participants through the experience of oppression, chaos and pain that many students must bear as a consequence of a broken educational system.

Tanvi Jindal, founder Museum of Solutions described it as follows: “Museum of Grey Sunshine is created for educators, parents, and government officials, to build empathy for children and teachers by introducing them to the reality of the current Indian education system. This was conceptualised and designed by the Museum of Solutions (MOS) team, which consists of a group of individuals working towards making learning for all children more enjoyable and meaningful.”

Many participants reported that the walkthrough was deeply emotional and has spurred them on to participate in changing the grey of education in India today.

Through the rest of the day, participants took part in Reimagining Sessions that pushed their existing patterns of thought, and equipped them with tangible takeaways to create change in their contexts. These sessions were led by impactful organisations such as Reap Benefit, who imparted knowledge on developing 21st century skills and civic engagement in classrooms; Riverside School who led a session on Design for Change and problem-solving skills and Teach For America, who immersed participants in nourishing sensibilities in working WITH communities and not for them.

Shailendra Singh, Directorate of Education, Government of Delhi was also present as a speaker at the summit, had this to say about the event- “We need to make education humane and responsive to today’s time, and this summit is a step in that direction.”

The KER revolutionary retreat, night and summit was an inspiring coming together of ideas to inspire the main stakeholders of education ecosystem to enable our children to become leaders of today (and not just the future). Aakanksha Gulati, City Director, Teach For India Delhi said, “Partnership is critical in the work we do and today there are many platforms that bring NGOs, educators, policy makers and governments together to reimagine education. The only difference at KER is that we include kids as partners too. And that, we believe, can make ALL the difference.”