Right To Experiences: SKG Curriculum For Life Learning

Here goes the break-up of the life learning curriculum for preschool. After the right to play – the nursery curriculum and the right to nature – the LKG curriculum, the third in line is the right to experiences – the SKG curriculum.

The child has learnt to walk and talk. The child moves around and explores. What does he/she do? He/she wants to touch everything in sight, feel it, smell it, hear it, taste it and try to memorize the experiences. The child has learnt through exploration and experience, fun and joy. So, peculiar of a child. Well, every adult knows it.

Fast forward to a preschool. The child is closeted in a room. Nothing novel to see, feel, taste, smell. Well, there’s a lot to hear – but of the same variety, instructions and instructions. No new sounds as such. There is nothing to memorize apart from the repetitive rhymes. The child has learnt through rote and ramming, dull and joyless. So, peculiar of an adult. Well, no child knows it.

Cut the sarcasm. We, adults, know that kids learn through exploration and experiences. We, adults, also have the reluctance to put the knowledge into practice. Wonder why? And, that’s precisely the reason for the right to experiences, the SKG curriculum.

Right To Experiences: Hands-On and Experiential Learning

The kids have to be taught about service providers, the modes of transport, the materials – what better than live-action? The kids have to be taught about hard skills and soft competencies – what better than hands-on? To introduce farms and factories, markets and shops, scientists and researchers, potters and weavers, politicians and criminals – what better than experiential?

The child is imaginative and creative. The child is curious and inquisitive. He/she wants to put all the sensory organs and the mind to use. He/she isn’t stuck to the notion of being a know-it-all and is receptive to ideas. What is better to enrich the child and the child’s learning – hands-on experiences or circle time/charts/apps?

Well, the adults will ask adult questions. They will have doubts about the practical applications and not the theoretical discourse. So, here we go, hands-on.

Is The Right To Experiences Really Learning?

As an adult, what do you remember of your childhood days? What are your memories of picking up useful learning as a kid? As a parent, when/where/how do you see your child learning? What do you think your kid is going to carry with him/her as lifelong lessons? The answer will only be one – Hands-on/Experiential.

The child’s learning from the right to experiences, the SKG curriculum is real. It will not just make him/her school-ready, rather it will prepare him/her for life. The child learns wisdom and good judgment, not just rhymes and riddles, with seeing and feeling, perceiving and understanding. And, that’s what real learning is meant to be, not just for the next 3 years, but for the next 30 years.

Is It Safe?

India is no country to raise daughters. India is a difficult country to raise kids. We lock the children, as the Covid-19 lockdown showed that children parks were the last to open and the schools are not even close to opening full-strength. Going by these measures, the right to experiences has no likelihood of coming into existence. So, how do we go about doing it?

We make the right to experiences, the SKG curriculum a collective responsibility of the country. The departmental store staff/policemen – the organized workforce will have in his/her appraisal a criterion of how many kids came for an experiential visit. The factory/restaurant/roadside kiosk/kirana stores – the unorganized workforce will get a badge of honour for the number of kids visiting their workplace.

As the acceptance and visibility of the right to experiences increases, as the number of children going around increases, the safety for the children will only enhance. Society’s peer pressure will work. More so, the responsibility of setting an example for the country’s future generations when everyone around is watching will ensure civilized behaviour from the adults.

Is It Expensive?

The unregulated private preschools are all-ready expensive. Well, they ought to be. Why would you think KKR acquired Eurokids for Rs. 1475 Crore? Not for the kid’s learning, but for X times the taking. The private preschools focus on owner’s and franchise’s returns than the child’s learning. For once, they need to be held to task and parents can ask for a right to experiences as a value for their fees.

For the abysmal anganwadis, it is time the Government goes beyond ensuring the mere survival of kids. Anganwadis were set up in 1975 and they still operate in the same dingy room, with the same Jurrasic-era objectives. It is utter nonsense, like the NCERT syllabus and the CBSE syllabus. For once, the Government should put its money for some real benefits to the children.

Vis-a-vis the yields, the price for the right to experiences is an investment well-made.

A Statutory Warning

A few smart preschools and even the New Education Policy talks about experiential learning. Just put them through the open-air test. Right to experiences won’t and can’t happen in the closed confines of the four walls of the preschool. If there is not a whiff of fresh air, a stirring sight, potpourri of tastes, multiple textures – it is just a play of words – jargon/pulling wool over the parents’ eyes.

So goes above the right to experiences, the SKG curriculum. My wife and I are trying it out for our twin daughters. It does make for a fascinating and yes, bumpy ride too. We are not having economies of scale with two children, hence getting limited. Let’s see how we can proceed.

What are your thoughts on this subject?  What experiences for your children and how?

PS: I am a stay-at-home father to six-year-old twin daughters, neither an educationist nor an expert, just growing up together with my children. The above thoughts are an expression of parenting is having an opinion, getting involved and trying to better.

Stand UP, Speak OUT!!! #IAmAParent.

Right To Nature: LKG Curriculum For Life Learning

Here goes the break-up of the life learning curriculum for preschool. After the nursery curriculum of right to play, second up is the Right To Nature, LKG curriculum for life learning.

What is in abundance all around the child? What has the most teaching potential for the child? Also, the most neglected? What is it that will never cease to amaze the child and always keep the inner child alive? What is free, hands-on and amenable to an individual child’s pace? Also, that an adult fails to understand in any manner possible and takes for granted? NATURE.

It feels strange that nature has to be introduced to children, but that’s what it has come to be. Rather, there will be arguments why it is unneeded for kids and is just a silly wasteful idea with no real learning potential. Or maybe the empty boasts that it is/has been done, just that the child is unaware. And, that’s precisely the reason for Right To Nature, the LKG curriculum for life learning.

What Is Nature

Seemingly needless, but it is necessary to agree on what is nature. Else, we, the adults, can very well say that nature is too far and expensive to reach, hence let’s drop the idea. We might as well classify four walls of the classroom as nature, hence the mission accomplished to acquaint kids with nature. Or, call once in a while visit to a manicured lawn of a park/gated community as nature. No, it is not.

Nature does not exist in an isolated faraway place but is all around us. Anything untouched/not invented by mankind is nature. So, all kinds of pollution, air-conditioned buildings, screens, internet, vehicles etc are out. All kinds of plants and trees, insects and bugs, birds and butterflies, clouds and wind, bushes and shrubs, stones and pebbles, clouds and wind, mud and soil are in – Nature.

Why Right To Nature

Right to nature sounds like a theoretical discourse, heavy and hopeless. You may ask – what’s in it for children? This doesn’t make a child school-ready or prepare for the entrance exams. What’s there to learn from buds and blooms, mud and water? No preschool ever has nature in its syllabus. A visit here and there to a park suffices to be called an introduction to nature. So, how does it matter?

What is going to be the existential threat for today’s children in their lifetime? Climate change. What are we leaving as our legacy to future generations? Polluted Earth. We, the adults, have created and perpetuated the problem and we aren’t going to solve it. The solution, if at all, has to come from today’s kids when they go on to become adults themselves.

As adults, apart from lip service, have we learnt anything from nature? Do we consider nature even worthwhile to get involved with, apart from exploitation, of course? We live our lives flouting all the elements of nature. If our kids also happen to be like us, they have had it. We can’t repair the damage we have done to nature, but at the least, we can make our children aware of nature.

Hence, the right to nature, LKG curriculum for life learning. Catch the children young and see them grow and learn with nature, not just for the unit tests 3 years down the line but for the tests of life, 30 years and beyond. And being an ally of nature, all along. This might give them a better chance of survival on Mother Earth.

The Learning From Nature

Nature has enough and more than any man-made curriculum to engage and involve the child and for the kid to learn from and about. Be it the soft skills of compassion and empathy or the hard-wired proficiency in maths and science, nature has it all for the child. What’s more, it is age-appropriate for a preschool kid and will be a life-long companion through adult life.

Difficult to believe? Why do you think we do not feel hurt when we see the trees getting cut? How is it that we care more about the OTT shows but not the air quality we breathe? Why are we fine with a complete lack of native Indian trees around us? Because we weren’t sensitized to nature when we were kids. We missed out on a life-time of learning with plants, i.e. nature.

Imagine a child getting introduced to seeding and seeing a plant grow, tending to an animal who has lost a leg, playing with mud and giving shapes to the thoughts. It is for certain that this child when goes on to become an adult will have superior sensitivities and sensibilities than us, the parents, the adults. Even for the STEM-obsessed, nature has to offer the most, only if given a chance.

 Right To Nature: LKG Curriculum

How to envisage putting the right to nature, LKG curriculum for life learning in action? NCERT preschool curriculum is a letdown, unregulated preschools don’t care and the rigid education establishment won’t see beyond the entrance exams.  The adults are supposed to decide and we don’t have a clue on how to go about it. What and how to introduce kids when we are unaware?

A starting point is to admit our slip, leave kids alone with the elements of nature and hopefully, the learning will come through. There aren’t going to be any worksheets, texts or screens. Yes, a lot of questioning by the kids has to be backed by the all-around efforts by the adults to answer and allow the kids to be hands-on and open-ended, curious and experiential, playful and free.

Unless the right to nature, LKG curriculum for life learning comes through, Mother Earth is going to be scorched with the threats of climate change and so will be the futures of our children.

What are your thoughts on the subject?

PS: I am a stay-at-home father to six-year-old twin daughters, neither an educationist nor an expert, just growing up together with my children. The above thoughts are an expression of parenting is having an opinion, getting involved and trying to better.

Stand UP, Speak OUT!!! #IAmAParent.

Right To Play: Nursery Curriculum For Life Learning

Here goes the break-up of the life learning curriculum for preschool. First up is the Right To Play, the nursery curriculum.

This suggestion of the right to play might draw sniggers from few adults. They can say that kids play all the time. What else do children do apart from playing? What’s the novelty if you suggest a right to play as a life learning nursery curriculum? Just another unwanted funky piece of advice, far removed from reality. So, we start with the reasoning.

Why The Right To Play

Open spaces for children to play are a myth in India. Public parks are not safe for children’s independent play. Yes, the gated communities do have some playing areas, but minuscule to the number of kids residing. We would like to believe that kids play, but where’s the place for children to play – freely, uninhibited, unconstrained?

Kids are bundled off to preschools. This lasts for 3/4/5 hours. Add up the transport time, to and fro. Add the preparatory and winding down period, meals, screen time, temper tantrums (remember, they are kids), sleep. We would like to believe that kids play, but where’s the time for kids to play – nonstop, leisurely, easygoing?

Parents are busy working off their backsides. Siblings, if any, are too old and occupied with exams/screens to play with a nursery-going kid. There is hardly a neighbourhood around nowadays. Even if there is one, the time to play for the kids may not match as they have various classes/sessions at different times. With whom do the kids play?

Oh yes, they get to play in preschools. Is there any time left to play after parroting the rhymes, undesired motor-sensory writing practices (reversal of LSRW) and sitting idle in circle time? The preschools charge to make the child school-ready by overwhelming the kid much beyond his/her age. They do not charge for a child’s play and true to it, they won’t let the child play.

Spending time with mind-numbing digital gadgets does not count as play. So, when/where/how do the children play? That’s the reason for the right to play as nursery curriculum.

To Play Is To Learn

Adults can make one round of the house in less than 5 minutes. That’s how adults are – to the point and efficient. Children can’t make one round of the house even in an hour. That’s how children are – all over the place and clumsy. Adults can follow instructions if they want to. Children can also follow instructions if they remember to.

Why the above proclamations? Because we, adults, do not acknowledge that adults and children are wired differently. What works for adults does not work for kids. Else, they would not be children in the first place; rather they would be born adults. Structured and formal instruction-led teaching makes sense to adults, not kids.

Does water/mud, plants/insects, utensils/pillows make sense to adults for hours together? Would adults be interested in pretend play, asking incessant questions and running around? A resounding no. Then, why should kids be interested in worksheets and rote memorization? Why should children be paying attention only with ears when they can engross all their sensory organs and mind?

Learning has dissimilar connotations for parents (adults) and children. For children, to play is to learn. For adults, to play is to squander away the learning. To children, to play is to understand the ways of life, people and world. To adults, a child’s play is a needless charade with no apparent benefit other than keeping the kids away from an adult’s cherished screen time.

One of the greatest services that a parent can ever do to the child is to recognize that to play is to learn.

How/What To Play

Adults ask adult questions. If parents do get convinced about the life learning nursery curriculum – right to play, the next question they will ask is what/how should children play to learn the maximum, to be ahead of the pack, to ace the entrance exams? The children who ask questions all the time will not ask what/how to play.

Therein, lies the answer to what/how to play and also, how adults and children differ. To play is to play. To play, kids do not require any paraphernalia/apparatus/apps/add-ons/instructions. These are the frills of the adults’ world. What the children do need to play are the physical space and the mental freedom. That’s it. The rest is learning all along.

Right to education was the need of a certain time and the well-intentioned adults made a mess out of it. Right to play is the need of a current time and the un-intentioned adults are again making a mess out of it. We have to back up our future generations in ways more than one and the first up, most important for their life learning, is the right to play as nursery curriculum.

What are your thoughts on the right to play for kids as a life learning nursery curriculum?

PS: I am a stay-at-home father to six-year-old twin daughters, neither an educationist nor an expert, just growing up together with my children. The above thoughts are an expression of parenting is having an opinion, getting involved and trying to better.

Stand UP, Speak OUT!!! #IAmAParent.

Life Learning Curriculum For Preschool

How to ensure learning for the child? How to make sure that the child is prepared to take on the challenges of life? And along with that, the child gets to remain a child and have fun. My proposed solution is the life learning curriculum for preschool. You may ask why the heck some silly thing called a life learning curriculum when the preschools abound all around with their own curriculum.

The preschools expose the child to structured and formal teaching, dull and monotonous routine and rote memorization (all harmful to the child). They do so as the NCERT preschool curriculum is a huge letdown. CBSE syllabus is non-existent and a free-for-all. There aren’t any guidelines for preschools in India. As a result, preschools are merely a me-too version of the schools – rote and joyless.

The child is at the best age to explore and learn, be happy and enjoy childhood bliss. The parents want the best possible education and ready the kid for a lifetime of success. However, the learning environment in the preschools and the curriculum used are severely lacking to back up the parents in their intent and the children in their happiness.

And, hence, the life learning curriculum for preschool. Of course, you won’t be convinced. So, we discuss further on why the life learning curriculum for preschool.

3 Years Or 30 Years

What do you think would be more beneficial to the child? Repeating the rhymes, undesired motor-sensory writing practices (reversal of LSRW) and sitting idle in circle time? Or having a fulfilling adult life, equipped to handle difficult situations and be a confident and empathetic decision-maker? The time span varies. One is after 3 years and the second is after 30 years.

The so-called education of the preschool variety teaches a child what he/she will face in 3 years. With the life learning curriculum, a child learns what he/she will face in 30 years – i.e. all through life. Preschool education teaches a child to do well in unit tests/entrance exams. The life learning curriculum facilitates a child to decide on the course of life and yes, do well.

As a parent, what will you choose for your child as an end-deliverable, from the above two scenarios, after 3 years or 30 years? Preschool or life learning?

Indifferent Or Involved

Preschools’ premise is that they help children be school-ready. It doesn’t help the child to keep getting hammered in the anticipation of an event that itself is notorious to rob the childhood joys.  Such a syllabus is bound to be limited to texts, worksheets and four walls of the classroom, as the schools themselves. In other words, inept and indifferent to a child’s childhood needs.

Life learning is a principle – What the child explores, experiences and learns is for a lifetime. It is a learning that gets ingrained and becomes a foundation for right judgment, all through the adult years. Life learning happens with life i.e. real-life interactions as a teaching aid and involves all sensorial organs and the mind, and not just ears, the only body part that the preschool targets.

As a parent, what will you choose for your child as a process, from the above two scenarios, limiting or exploratory? Preschool or life learning?

An Adult Before Age Or Be A Child

Adults have already learnt, or so they presume. Adults are happy with what they know and exploit it to maximize their returns. They are amenable to instructions and comfortable with the top-down approach to take and follow orders. In other words, adults can complete one round of the house successfully in about 5 minutes or less without a break.

Comparatively, the child will never be able to make a round of the house in one shot. He/she will wait at every corner, look at the ceiling, behind the sofa, take out kitchen stuff and not put anything back. The child will never accomplish a task with the efficiency of an adult. Each task has a different meaning to a child vis-a-vis an adult. Left to choose, the child will not consider the task at all.

As a parent, what will you choose for your child as a persona, from the above two scenarios, becoming an adult before age or be a child? Preschool or life learning?

Objective Of Learning

Ultimately, it will come down to the objective of learning to you as a parent for your child. In simple terms, expecting the child to be a replica of you – adults, at the earliest possible? An initiation to the rat race, what life has become for us. Or allowing the child to have a chance to develop his/her thinking and perspective of life and the world? Letting the child be a child for some more time.

As a parent, what will you choose for your child as his/her future? An anxious and restless life with medical/engineering/whatever degree and yes, the preschools as a stepping stone? Or, empowering the child to let him/her choose the course of adult life with unknown consequences and yes, life learning as a hand-holding enabler?

Like every parent, we also want our twin daughters to become good human beings and do well in life. Just that, we have a disconnect with the current process – the utterly child-unfriendly Indian preschools as the first step of learning, which is not at all a learning. We believe life learning is the starting point of the learning journey for our twin daughters and a companion all through their life.

I will also write about how we have put the life learning curriculum for preschool in action for our daughters with a belief that the learning environment for children is everywhere.

What are your thoughts on the subject? Preschool or Life learning?

PS: I am a stay-at-home father to six-year-old twin daughters, neither an educationist nor an expert, just growing up together with my children. The above thoughts are an expression of parenting is having an opinion, getting involved and trying to better.

Stand UP, Speak OUT!!! #IAmAParent.

Parent’s And Student’s Right To Cancel Exams

The government of India cancelled school and board exams due to the COVID-19 pandemic. An event considered indispensable, an event having 24*7 influences on the psyche of the students and the parents, an event bigger than education itself – Exams were cancelled. Imagine!!! Now, this leads to another idea – Parent’s And Student’s Right To Cancel Exams.

It might seem outrageous and shocking. Exams to be cancelled!! And the parent’s right to cancel exams!! Well, after a certain age of 12-14 years, the students should have the right to cancel exams too. One might ask – Why and What for? One might answer – Why Not and What Not for.

Did anyone ever have the wildest dream that exams would be cancelled and students would be just fine? Of course, it doesn’t mean that because exams were cancelled once, they need to be cancelled again. However, it does mean that whatever was once considered sacrosanct and essential can be questioned and scrutinized. There is absolutely no need to carry past baggage just for the sake of it.

Parents To Decide What Is Learning For Their Children

Everyone agrees that learning is the most important aspect of growing up for a child. Now, it so happens that learning is imbibed in multiple ways and it also manifests in numerous forms. It has to be up to the parents to decide what learning means to them, how they interpret it for their children and in what form/manner they want it for their kids.

Some parents would want to opt for JEE/NEET and the sorts. Some parents would want their children to focus on studies but without the burden of future expectations. Few parents might want their kids to enjoy their childhood as a priority. Now, if the objectives are different, exams too should have different formats. Also, at times, no format, no exams. A format in itself.

Learning happens for every child but at a varied pace with diverse comprehension. Exams are too lazy an attempt designed by inept adults with no customization built-in for each unique child and her/his distinctive application of learning. If each child learns differently, the child also needs to be assessed differently. Also, at times, no assessment, no exams. An assessment in itself.

The parent knows his/her child best, what works for the kid and what can lead the child to perform. Now, if this is the case, they should have the decision-making power if they want their kid to go through the experience of exams, the age at which the kid should give exams and the flexibility to opt-in/opt-out too.

Children’s Mental Health Issues

Nowadays, even children are falling victim to anxiety and depression. Of the multiple reasons, the one that is right at the top is exams. Children get initiated into the rat race fairly early in their lives. Why and what for? Exams. Children start feeling burnt out even before stepping into their youth. The prime reason is exams.

The adults might say that exams have been there since time immemorial and all the children who went through the routine are doing fine. So, what’s the fuss? An answer: Their doing fine is no yardstick. Also, they feel that they are doing fine. There is no guarantee they are actually fine. They might not even know what they missed out on and what they might have become if not for exams.

With all the expectations and the prevalent norms, children mature quite early. If they realize and feel that they need a break, they might as well take a break. And, there is nothing to take a break from other than exams. Adults might scoff at the idea of 12-14 years old deciding for themselves. It may not be optimal, but it is no worse than the education establishment screwing them up for life.

If we expect 12-14 years old to prepare for an entrance exam that is another 2-4 years away, why can’t we expect them to decide on an exam they are giving now? Going forward, mental health issues are going to be of paramount importance. It is better that they get addressed in their initial stages, read exams, rather than grappling with them all through life.

Parent’s And Student’s Right To Cancel Exams

The Government and the education establishment will say that parent’s right to cancel exams will lead to anarchy. There will be utter disorder and confusion. This will be detrimental to the child’s learning.

For one, the unhealthy and single-minded focus on exams themselves is detrimental to the well-being of the child, leaving aside learning. For second, nothing has ever stopped them from coming up with viable alternatives to the redundant exams. They might as well do now. It is time for the patronizing Government and the self-absorbed education establishment to get a shake-up.

COVID-19 has led to destroying many of the beliefs that we thought were central to our existence. Online learning and cancellation of school and board exams are a couple of such instances. We will be doing a great service to our children’s future by taking it a step further – Parent’s And Student’s Right To Cancel Exams.

What are your views on the subject?

PS:  I am a stay-at-home father to six-year-old twin daughters, neither an educationist nor an expert, just growing up together with my children. The above thoughts are an expression of parenting is having an opinion, getting involved and trying to better.

Stand UP, Speak OUT!!! #IAmAParent.

Learning Environment For Children Is Everywhere

Our soon-to-be seven-year-old twin daughters do not go to school because they are children. So, what about their learning environment? How/Where/When do they learn? Well, they learn from each experience/interaction, all the time, all around them. Unschooling doesn’t mean that their learning is compromised in any manner.

I am not talking about any abstract concept when I say that the learning environment for children is everywhere. Parents are much better at imparting learning than what they are made to believe. More so, we grossly under-estimate a child’s innate capability to grasp and soak up learning by believing that learning can happen only in a certain environment.

Learning Environment For My Daughters

Plants. Nature-walk. House-hold chores. Vegetable shopping. Playing with mud. Yes, with seeds, too. Cooking. Positive screen time. Krishna Fruit Juice Centre. Number Recognition Activity. Stone Collection. Of course, in-house numerous art and craft sessions. Visits to parks and lakes. Trips and events with Dirty Feet. Language Games. Indian Wedding. Rangoli Making. Anganwadi Visit.

Anything and everything. Anywhere and everywhere. Anytime and every time. Activities done multiple times and also, one-off.

If one believes that the children are better served with hands-on experiential learning, what would be the logical extension? Omnipresent learning environment with parental involvement. We have seen ample evidence that the twins learn at each experience, every interaction. I might forget the reference in future, but they don’t. I might forget what I taught them, but they won’t.

Reading books to daughters is an integral part of the learning environment but by no means the only part. It is just one among many. We don’t leave our tasks to give the girls a monologue. Rather, the children get interwoven with the job-on-hand and their learning becomes a part of the narrative, at their pace. And, nothing digital, please.

For us, the learning environment has been diverse physical locations and contexts. We give a free hand to the curiosity, the urge to explore, the inquisitiveness of our daughters and that’s about it. They ask questions, we try answering. We raise queries, they try guessing. Together, we make assumptions, put it into action, see the output faltering and that’s the learning, for them and also us.

Rocket science and medical science would not be amenable to the above. But, it works for logical reasoning and common sense, numerical capability and literacy, real-life application and critical thinking. For passing on life skills to children, the omnipresent learning environment is a sure-shot winner.

The Power Of Unstructured Time

We are made to believe that a packed schedule is a must for a child’s learning. The child has to be up to something, have to be engaged and taught for her/him to learn. For us, adults, learning has to be tangible, assessed and proven that the child has learned. We assume that learning requires a structured environment, certified instructors, certain pedagogy and more of the same.

Well, somehow, the children did not get the message. Not until they become well-meaning but misdirected adults themselves, like us. The children are blank slates and they pick up from whatever, wherever, whenever they question, do, see and are told in that order. The structured time believes in exactly the reverse order, with major, if not all, stress on instructions to be followed to the rote.

Unstructured time exposes the children to different ways of using their minds and bodies. They are not told, not expected to memorize and reproduce what is. Rather, they try and figure out what isn’t, what can’t, what won’t followed by what might and if they are lucky enough, they also learn what is. And, this remains with them for the rest of their lives.

The adults yearn for the unstructured time of their childhood. However, when it comes to their children, they are all shackled up in structured time in the name of learning. We need to give our children and ourselves a break for the unstructured time – for this is when the memories are made and lifelong learning happen.

The Barriers And The Belief

There are, of course, many barriers to the belief of the learning environment for children is everywhere. However, when the child will show in action/put in words what they have seen and perceived in any of their interactions, it will reinforce that you are on the right path. Each experience with the child has a value beyond anything that a classroom can ever teach. And, the child surely learns.

I am not an educator. I have no empirical data/study to back up my belief. My wife’s and my hands-on experiences with our twin daughters show that they are learning – intended/unintended/not even thought in our wildest dreams with each interaction and we move on to the next experience.

What are your thoughts on the learning environment for children?

PS: I am a stay-at-home father to six-year-old twin daughters, neither an educationist nor an expert, just growing up together with my children. The above thoughts are an expression of parenting is having an opinion, getting involved and trying to better.

Stand UP, Speak OUT!!! #IAmAParent.

Free Sanitary Products: Real Celebration Of Women’s Day For Indian Women

Another Women’s Day is upon us. Apart from being a day of repeating yearly customary paeans to Women, what could have been different? What could be the real celebration of Women’s Day for the Women of India? After all, Women’s Day has been around since 1913, and it might be around for another century. But, what could be the game-changer for Women of India? Free Sanitary Products.

Now, one might say what has got free sanitary products to do with Women’s Day? The country is busy honouring the Women and their achievements and empowerment. Why bring up a colourless topic like free sanitary products when the Women are being hailed with gusto? It is not in sync with the bigger picture of women’s emancipation and the newer heights scaled by Women in India.

Well, let’s have a dose of reality.

80% of Indian Women do NOT use sanitary products

Women’s population in India is 66 Cr. Let’s take 40 Cr as the number for the Women of menstruation age. Assume that a Woman uses 8 sanitary pads, on average, during a menstruation cycle. Let’s take a price of a sanitary pad at Rs. 5/-. So, what should be the per annum size of the Indian sanitary pad market? 40 Cr * 8 * 5 * 12 = 19200 Cr. Remember, all these are conservative estimates.

In reality, what’s the size of the Indian sanitary pad market? 4000 Cr, at best. Meaning, only 20% of Indian Women use sanitary pads. That’s about it!!! Now, if this is not shocking, what is??? Are we staying in a 21st Century India or a country stuck in medieval times? Why should 80% of Indian Women NOT use sanitary pads?

Yes, you can ask for a survey/source to back up the above truth. In India, a survey covering the entire country is not feasible and it will not see the light of the day. However, the numbers do not lie. If anybody wants to refute the veracity of 80% Indian Women not using sanitary pads, s/he is welcome to prove it with counter-data of any sorts.

Why Free Sanitary Products?

The detractors will say why free sanitary products?

  • It is not that critical an issue. Well, if menstruation hygiene of 50% of the population is not vital, what is?
  • Awareness is important. Well, the Government has been working on awareness for ages, what’s the output? We even had a movie, what’s changed?
  • It is too expensive for the Government to supply. If it is expensive for the Government, think about the buying power of the Women not using sanitary products. To whom, will it be more feasible to intervene?
  • It is a luxury item. Our women have stayed so long without sanitary products, do they really need it? In that case, we might as well bring back child marriages, sati etc. How about going back to living in the caves?
  • Why are we even discussing this topic? Good families do not discuss such issues. Yes, this is precisely why 80% of Indian Women are left out of using sanitary pads.

The Advantages of Free Sanitary Products

Sanitary pad is, of course, a simple product which for reasons endemic to Indian society has not become ubiquitous. When made free, apart from being a simple product of menstruation hygiene, it signifies a change in attitude. A change in mindset.

  • Women are free from the clutches of the typical Indian patriarchal society.
  • Women, also, have a right to a life of dignity and respect.
  • More so, Women are important for India. The country cannot claim to prosper without the efforts to ensure the well-being of 50% of the population.

From every rationale, free sanitary products are a no-brainer idea.

The Real Change

The discussion on menstruation hygiene remains a taboo subject in India. The stigma on “pads” and “periods” is difficult to be washed away. If even after 70 + years of independence, the magnitude of the issue does not reduce in intensity, it requires a drastic intervention. Piecemeal solutions won’t do.

If this is not the time for free sanitary products, when is? The discussion on approach, awareness, access, affordability can continue forever. In the meantime, let’s have free sanitary products. Come to think of it. If Women do not have periods, none of us would be born. Yet, their menstrual hygiene, a bodily function, is taboo.

India levied 12% GST on sanitary pads, as a luxury item. After a furore, the Government made it exempt from GST. The hue and cry were for a worthy cause. The worthier cause is making sanitary products freely available to the Women of India. The worthiest cause is to regard Indian Women as equal partners in Indian society. The starting point will be to take the usage of sanitary pads to 100% of the population.

On this Women’s Day or for that matter, every Women’s Day, India can continue to do lip-service to Women’s cause; it is a tried and tested option with incremental/difficult-to-notice results. Else, India can decide to make free sanitary products – the real change for Indian Women.  A game-changer making Indian Women independent of men controlling their lives and menstruation.

PS: I am not a Women’s rights activist. Rather, just a stay-at-home father to six year-old twin daughters. The above thoughts are an expression of my growing up together with my daughters and wanting a just country for my daughters that treats all citizens fairly and equitably.

Stand UP, Speak OUT!!! #IAmAParent