After finishing his school at 2 PM every day, Class 8 student Sumit Raj doesn’t go home. Rather, he quickly slips into casuals he carries in his school bag and heads to a separate building in his Govt Boys Senior Secondary school in North Delhi’s Mukherjee Nagar.
“I am crazy about engineering. Every day, I spent 3-4 hours here and get to learn basic electronics. It’s fun,” Raj tells InUth.
Raj is frequent at ‘Creativity Adda’ — an alternative education space in his school where kids are free to learn different skills or explore their talents, free of cost.
Welcome to ‘Creativity Adda‘
“‘Creativity Adda’ is a space where kids have the freedom to determine their passion and what they want to do in life. After school hours, the kids are free to do whatever they want. During the time that a kid spends here, a student has the luxury to explore his passion,” Ashish Kumar Tiwari, co-founder of the alternative education model, tells InUth.
A joint collaboration between a corporation’s CSR initiative and Shikshantar, an NGO known for promoting alternative education, ‘Creativity Adda’ was started in 2015 at a school in Old Delhi’s Darya Ganj.
The Adda offers six learning hubs to students. And the students can opt for any hub, free of cost.
“Firstly, we have ‘Community Media Lab’ where kids get to learn photography, computer and film-making etc. Then we have ‘Slow Food Junior Chef Academy’ where kids learn cooking and marketing of their food. Thirdly, we have ‘Design Studio and Makers Space’ in which kids learn different skills about robotics, audio, carpentry and making of electrical lamps. The studio also has a ‘Repair Cafe’ where kids repair faulty household appliances. Then we have ‘Sport and Fitness’ centre where kids get training in different sports like table tennis, Carrom Board, skating and skateboard. We also have a small gym. Then we have ‘Music, Dance and Art academy’ where kids get training in music, vocals, dance, theatre and mime etc,” Tiwari said.
According to Mr. Bhattacharya, a music guide at the institute, it’s hard to imagine such avenues at a government school.
“They don’t feel any kind of hesitation here. Nobody is following them every time and keeping an eye. You can go to any of the [music] academy in Delhi and you can see how the students are instructed and directed strictly. It’s not like that out here. They are free to do anything here. Roam around, eat your food and do whatever interests you,” he said.
‘Studies are now interesting’
When Class 10 student Faizan joined ‘Creativity Adda’ to learn dance a year ago, his family was not supportive. It took him a lot to convince his parents.
“My parents said there’s no future in dance. One day, I took along my dance teacher and requested him to talk to my parents. I also took my parents to some dance shows. After that, their perception changed and they began encouraging me,” Faizan shared with InUth during an interview.
The experience has also sharpened his view of what he wants to do in life.
“I want to be a dance teacher and teach dance to kids in government schools. But I know that’s not possible if I don’t study well…Earlier, the school used to boring. It was a boring life. Now, the dance just refreshes my mind. Studies have become interesting too,” the student added.
Co-founder Tiwari feels self-learning has inculcated confidence in the kids.
“These are the same kids who hesitated to speak up or who would always fight with each other. In today’s time, the same kids with their self-discipline are confident enough to create and develop new things. Parents used to tell us earlier that their kids waste time by roaming around on streets, sleeping and watching TV. Now, they are doing wonders.”