Posts in Community Outreach

Street Vendor Hackathon At IISC

  10 Students from Inventure participated in the Reimagine Waste Street Vendor Hackathon at IISC! Here is a summary of what they did:
  • The Hackathon was structured so that students visited recycling factories, segregation centres and met with street vendors on Day 1. On Day 2, they synthesized what they had learnt from Day 1's field trips and began to brainstorm problems that needed solving. On Day 3, they had access to the IISC Hack Shop where they made prototypes of their proposed solutions and further refined their solutions. And on Day 4, they presented their solutions and were judged.
  • The solutions that our students proposed include: Two ways in which to make tape removal from plastics/cardboard packaging material easier. Current process is manual and time intensive. A device that can be used to automatically segregate waste. The device also doubles as a tabletop for street vendors. A device that segregates waste using electrostatic waves. Gloves designed to be more user friendly.
Of the 18 ideas in all that were presented, 8 made it to the semi-finals, which were held on Monday 14th August. 3 of our students presented their solutions. A few highlights / learnings: WE MAY BE YOUNG BUT WE CAN MAKE VALUABLE CONTRIBUTIONS: There was angst among the students that “we will be a liability to the teams we join because we are young, we don't know as much as they do, and we aren't there for the overnight hacking parts." In fact, it turned out that our students were able to make good contributions and were valuable members of their teams. Inika worked on her team's presentation using skills she had learnt at school and one of our parent volunteers commented that our students "spoke up and took over when the rest of the team was confused about answering some questions" during the final presentations. SOLUTIONS COME FROM EXPERIENCING, ESPECIALLY FROM A DIVERSITY OF EXPERIENCES: Our field trips on Day 1 made an impression and were the basis for helping us figure out solutions. The depressed faces of the workers in the recycling factory went a long way in helping create the solutions e.g. tape removal devices, a better glove etc. NETWORKING IS VALUABLE: Students realized that friends made on Day 1 ended up becoming good team mates. In addition, it is nice to be a part of the Inventure Community - at least a couple of the organizers also know Inventure well. (Shriram Bharatan of Better Carbon Living helps with our 5th grade trash trail and Priti Rao of Soil and Soul has helped with the forest-creation on Inventure campus a few years ago) OUR MAKERSPACE IS COOL: Abhishek observed that the “makerspace at Inventure is comparable to the hack shop at IISC. In fact there are some things which Inventure has that IISC doesn't have." Kudos to Aaron - how wonderful that our facilities are in some ways comparable to the facilities of a premier research institution like IISC!

Inventure Academy Provides Furniture to Govt Schoo...

  As part of Inventure Academy’s Community Outreach program, classroom furniture was provided to four Government Schools - The Govt. High School Attibele, Govt. Urdu Higher Primary School (GUPHS) Dommasandra, Govt. Model Primary High School (GMPHS) Domassandra, Govt. Model Primary Boys School (GMPBS) Sarjapur. 55 sets of desks and chairs, 50 tables and 120 chairs were distributed to these schools. Bharti, a CRP of the Dommasandra Cluster, said, “ The children were delighted to have received these tables and chairs. They could barely wait for them to be set in the classrooms before claiming their own seats! We are extremely grateful for Inventure’s contribution.” Inventure firmly believes in “being socially responsible citizens” (part of the school’s Core Purpose”). The school works closely with three of the Government Schools mentioned above with Grade 9 to 12 students spending a few hours each week helping students at these schools. They support the work of classroom teachers by working with students to reinforce previously taught literacy and numeracy concepts and skills. They also create resource materials for the students to use. The government school students also come to Inventure to use our Computer Lab facilities and receive on-site training. GUPHS Dommasandra, in particular, is a school adopted by Inventure Academy. Proceeds from our Annual Production show held last year (8 lacs) was presented to the school towards the renovation of their school building. Earlier this year, students of 12A led by Inventure’s Head Girl, Abhinithi Nalwad, organized an Eye Camp at the Government Model Primary Girls School. The Community Outreach Program, part of Inventure’s Wider World program, ties in with the school’s Core Values of ‘Encouraging Sensitivity’ and ‘Providing Maximum Exposure’. An integral part of the students’ learning experiences, it helps contribute to their intellectual and social growth and development. It also provides a framework for students’ roles as members of the local community. About Inventure’s Wider World Program Inventure’s Wider World Program is designed to help children navigate the multi-layered world of the 21st Century, and make them contributing citizens of a global community. It gives students an understanding of different working environments and also acquaints them with a sense of the plurality and diversity of opinions, perspectives, life choices, inequalities and knowledge that today’s world contains.

Nirbhaya documentary debate: An opportunity to re-...

From Sureshbhai Patel, who was left paralysed due to excessive physical force from overzealous policemen in the USA for being a “coloured” human being walking on the streets of a xenophobic town, to Nirbhaya who was brutally raped in a moving bus in New Delhi, it is apparent there is an erosion of the basic and universal values that we perhaps tend to take for granted. It is left to us to salvage this state of anomie by inculcating in children universal values such as respect, compassion, treating people the way one wants to be treated and helping those who are in need. In the Indian context, it is imperative that we stay away from those so called “traditional” values which often reinforce and encourage discrimination against women and merely reinforce the injustices that stem from the resultant gender discrimination. The documentary about the Nirbhaya case (which is now banned) renders most of us too numb to say anything. We are shocked by the sentiments expressed by the rapists, their lawyers and families. It is devastating for us as people who are responsible for young lives that we co-inhabit this world with people who feel this way, with total disregard, for their fellow beings. So, how do we deal with this situation? Our children live in a world that is our creation. Therefore, it is fair to say that they are victims of our own design. We want them to be critical thinkers and problem solvers, yet, don’t encourage open discussion, debate, time for reflection about controversial and sensitive issues such as rape, gender discrimination and grossly unfair social norms and stigmas. We conveniently sweep under the carpet the issues that rankle and show us in poor light in the eyes of our children. Children have access to the internet, with both its wonders and horrors, the media, post-modern expressions of ambivalence through art and music that border on nihilism and yet, we expect them to be unaffected by all of this, somehow. It is high time that we make amends for our own indiscretions and create avenues for frank and open discussion with our children / students about these “uncomfortable and controversial” issues to help them make sense of the double standards that are rampant in our society. The Nirbhaya documentary showed that the crime was brutal, while the rapist's comments as well as those by eminent politicians, lawyers and citizens of prominence are reflective of the frequently dysfunctional views of women in our society. We need to confront such challenges to enable our transition to a 21st Century society, rather than pretend they don’t exist. We cannot even venture to call the viewpoints expressed by the two defence lawyers and one of the rapists in the documentary misogynistic or prejudiced, because that would connote a viewpoint that is at least in some shape or form, human. What schools and colleges can do? Educational institutions must open up avenues for debate and reflection on these issues and children should be deliberately included in policy making to address the very social problems that they will face as adults, or are already facing. Educational institutions should target children from senior school upwards to participate in a program facilitated by teachers and counsellors structured in perhaps the following ways: Develop an insight into how systems work (i.e. use a systems-based thinking approach to address this issue) – examine what has led to this incident / other incidents or views on women’s rights and gender parity issues in Indian society.
  • Develop an insight into how systems work (i.e. use a systems-based thinking approach to address this issue) – examine what has led to this incident / other incidents or views on women’s rights and gender parity issues in Indian society.
  • Ethics – revisit those ‘universal values’ and communicate to children that these are the innate values that we have espoused as human beings through history. Also assess how our personal, individual and collective conduct has an impact on our society
  • Use a range of lenses / subjects (including sociology, psychology, history, literature, law, marketing and economics) and an interdisciplinary approach so that all children can resonate with the message that is being projected.
  • Discuss the issue of rape and sexual advances by men whether on buses, in other public areas and in workplaces. Raise awareness about gender parity issues in India, access to education for all, particularly the female child, unequal remuneration scales for men and women, etc.
  • Explore the psychological / emotional / social issues vis-à-vis women’s role in society. What makes someone rape another person, and think it is okay, and get away with it if one has a position of influence in society, or express the views that the defence lawyer / the family of the rapists have in the Nirbhaya documentary? What about those who oppose these views? What has led to these differences of opinion? What is the impact of these divergent views on society and women at large? How do we address them? What do students, parents and faculty think is right, based on their own beliefs / values? How can children participate in designing a future that is theirs? And finally, what can we do to create more awareness about these issues?
  • Look at relevant laws, both in India and overseas with respect to human rights, gender issues and privacy. What should the consequences be and how should women learn to guard against and deal with such incidents? Should the Nirbhaya documentary have been banned? Was it right to divulge the name of the victim? Should the victim’s photograph have been publicised? Should the rapist have been interviewed? Should the film have been aired by BBC when the case is still in court?
  • Use these sessions as an opportunity for action, and informed political and social activism – work on developing and advocating an effective system to address this. While we can set the stage for young adults to explore these issues, it would be ideal if the responses and recommendations came from the students themselves. It is our responsibility as educators to empower our youngsters to be aware, informed, sensitive, with strong values and character, and help them arrive at their own stance on these and other issues.
  • This can also be accomplished through position papers, open discussion among students, questionnaires developed by students to gather a consensus on views and ultimately develop a charter from students that can be shared with governmental agencies and politicians to make relevant changes so that women are viewed as equals. An extremely valuable exercise would be for students from different backgrounds to collaborate on these deliberations.
We from Inventure Academy, a Pre-K to 12 international school on Whitefield-Sarjapur Road, Bangalore, hosted a similar event on child protection in November/ December 2014. We created a student charter on safety on the basis of responses from 1100 students across the socio-economic and cultural spectrum in the city. We believe that ALL human beings are fundamentally good. We also believe that all of us have the inherent ability to reflect, examine our actions and underlying values / beliefs, learn and change for the better. It is with this underlying premise that we must embark on the quest of building a more respectful, empathetic and just society, along with our children towards a future that is better than our present. Let’s seize this opportunity to make it happen! - Nooraine Fazal, Ramesh Hariharan, and Mallika Sen Nooraine Fazal is Co-founder and Managing Trustee, Inventure Academy, Bengaluru. Mallika Sen is Principal, Inventure Academy, Bengaluru. Ramesh Hariharan is Vice-principal, Inventure Academy, Bengaluru. Read more at: http://bangalore.citizenmatters.in/articles/nirbhaya-documentary-debate-an-opportunity-to-re-define-our-future?utm_source=copy

Community Outreach- A beautiful, and special exper...

When our bus pulled up along the jagged, uneven sidewalk of the TC Halli Government school- for our first day of Community Outreach- my mind was swirling with curiosity. What would the children be like? Would they like me? Would it be difficult to communicate with them? I quickly pushed my thoughts away, as I spotted a crowd of giggling kids enthusiastically waving at us- bright, happy smiles spread across their eager faces. I found myself smile as I noticed their genuine eagerness and excitement as they grabbed our hands and pulled us inside- chattering happily. Honestly…I was really surprised and a bit overwhelmed by their friendly and happy attitude. I had never done anything like this before, and I had always wanted to do something to help our community. I was curious to see what this experience had to offer me. I set my bag on the table, and pulled out a colorful picture book, choosing to sit in front of a young girl in fourth grade. She beamed as I opened the book, and I noticed her eyes widening at the sight of the colorful pictures. Her bright eyes were filled with curiosity as I flipped the pages, listening attentively. As I glanced at the gray walls, and dull environment- I knew how she must have been feeling. She lifted her hand and slowly traced the picture as if she couldn’t believe what she was seeing- and it seemed like she had drifted into her own world. But then- as if just remembering that I was there, she glanced at me cautiously. I smiled encouragingly, and she replied with a shy smile. I spent the next hour flipping through the colorful pages, and watching her enthusiastic expressions, as she tried to pronounce each word. We came to a page filled with a bright scene- with various animals scattered around. I spotted a cat, and she peered at it carefully. Recognition flashed in her eyes, and she looked like she was trying to remember its name. I decided to test my Kannada- to test my general knowledge- and to see if remembered anything from all those third language classes. I pointed at the cat. “Biku.” I told her, confidently. She giggled, clamping a hand over her mouth. “No- Bekku.” She corrected, smiling. I blushed, and decided to stick to the English. The time I spent teaching and reading to the children left such a deep impact on me. At the end of the visit, I felt emotionally attached to them, and so moved. I really wanted to do something for them, and I guess the best thing I could do was, teach them English. I was so touched by how sweet and affectionate they were, and I don’t think I’ve ever met a batch of kids so excited to learn something new. I think this is a truly a great step Inventure is taking – extending a hand to the rural community, and encouraging us all to help these kids. Looking at the conditions there, and their simple way of living- you can’t help but admire their strength. You can’t help but feel a sense of determination- a need to help the ones less fortunate than us. I think there’s actually a lot we can learn from them. Community Outreach is a beautiful, and special experience that all of us can learn from, and remember forever. It was like breaking out of the cushioned surroundings we live in, and experiencing the conditions of those less privileged than us- which opened up a new perspective on the life and people around me. More than the feeling of knowing I was doing something to help the society was the sense of pride and happiness I felt after the visit. Making others happy really make you happy. No matter how cliché it sounds- it’s true! We sixth graders really enjoyed the experience, especially because it was an entirely new experience for all of us. Here’s what we have to say: “I feel that the community outreach is a great experience for us to learn about our community and conditions. But what’s more important than just social awareness is the pride and joy after helping less privileged children. It’s been an amazing experience for me and my classmates. The bright smiling face of the children as we left was one of the happiest moments of my life!”
  • Mahika
“I found community outreach an enjoyable experience. We met other kids who spoke a different language and thought in a different way. It was such an amazing experience and the kids were so sweet. We found it a two-way learning session. They taught us some things, and we taught them some things!”
  • Akriti
“I loved the experience as it gave me an opportunity to connect with slightly less privileged children. I enjoyed teaching them as it gave me a chance and a hearty feeling that I was helping and making a difference in my society.”
  • Divya
“I think getting to visit a government school to make kids happy and have fun- and also to interact with them; it’s just so special and touching. I hope we spend all our SUPW periods this way!”      -    Siya By - Mitali (6B)