Preface: Dosti means friendship in Hindi.
The disparity in quality regarding Indian education is drastic. Municipal schools (only free until 8th standard) are over-capacity and under-served. There have been moves recently to improve the situation (Right to Education Act), but sheer volume makes this a difficult situation. On the other hand, private schools (which are attended by all that can afford it) are generally creative environments with a range of skills taught, including sports, drama, art, music, etc.
India, as a country, is a vast and diverse community. However, it is left divided due the social pressures related to wealth. For example, it is quite likely that a child attending private-school is not aware of the hardships another child his age perseveres through on a daily basis; hardships like malnutrition, inadequate education, and unhygienic housing. Likewise, less-fortunate children are unlikely to understand that importance of discipline and education as a foundation for their lives.
Tuesday, November 6th, was the first session of a program called Dosti. I spoke about this program in an earlier post- the idea is to create relationships between groups of children that would normally not interact. The event was facilitated through buddy groups between one student attending municipal school and one attending a local private-school. The pairs completed various activities to help them get-to-know each other. They created nametags and a group painting, as well as completed a trust obstacle course and learned about Gandhiji together.
We debriefed with both groups of children afterwards and asked them what they learned through the day. The children attending private schools said they felt the other students were nicer to each other (specially, “treat each other as family”) and didn’t have cliques like they had in their school. The municipal school children mentioned the high level of discipline and respect the other students have and how well-spoken they are.
All in all, the day was a success in that the seed of friendship was planted. I am excited to plan another installment and to assist in the creation of new friendships built on the foundation of understanding and love.
Please enjoy the collage I created below of the days events.