Kotra Learning Festival 2017 was hosted at Hunar Ghar by one of our partner organisations, Kshamtalaya. It brought together a group of Kshamtalaya interns with children living in the area around Hunar Ghar. All involved flourished through the creative learning activities they participated in together. Kshamtalaya core team member, Soumya, gives an introduction to Kshamtalaya and writes about the aims and achievements of the first ever Kotra Learning Festival in this guest blog…
Kshamtalaya is a non-profit organisation founded with a vision to reimagine and create learning spaces which will lead to social and educational equity. It aims to achieve its vision by nurturing a cadre of leaders who will work towards achieving social and educational equity and by supporting students by creating spaces where integrated learning happens.
Kshamtalaya was seed funded by Educate for Life in 2016, which has since then been a constant source of guidance, mentoring and inspiration. The Kotra Learning Festival was supported by Educate for Life in partnership with RBKS and Jatan Sansthan.
Kotra Learning Festival was the culmination of an internship at Kshamtalaya aimed at bringing together young people to think and reflect on education in India and the world, to understand what really drives us as individuals and create a safe space to build authentic relationships with humans and nature itself. The interns took up different projects designed to create spaces which would provide children freedom to think, do, learn and reflect at their own pace and reflected every child’s learning styles and motivations.
Capacity building of interns was done by sessions on Mindfulness, Emotional and Social literacy, Systems Theory, reading and discussing existing theories on Education system, a workshop on making healthy processed food in Banyan Roots Organic Store, Sharing Life-Map of the members and reflective discussions on our experiences of the workshops. This was followed by field work in two schools, Vidya Bhavan in Udaipur and Hunar Ghar in Bakhel, Kotra, where they could apply their learnings.
At Hunar Ghar, interns conducted a 10-day project where they each picked up an area of interest, designed sessions of three hours and worked with children of Bakhel. The project included Theatre, Photography, Music, Art & Craft and Data Handling.
Theatre project by Anjali Mohan and Rajan Lohia included sessions on voice, expressions, theatre games and performing a skit. The content was chosen by kids of Bakhel and presented by them. The facilitators had imagined this session to be an outlet of emotions, students becoming comfortable with their body as they lose inhibitions and enhancing their creativity through working on story building and scripts. In the photography project by Arnojyashree children took pictures of things they saw in their village and wrote about it. They selected their favourite clicks and put up their very own photo exhibition where they stood by their photographs and narrated to guests their reasons behind why they clicked the photos. The Art & Craft workshop saw children completely involved in making flowers, wheels and drawings. Facilitator, Daisy Meena saw this art form as liberating and a stress-release workshop where she wanted to create a space where children do whatever they want and be happy. Data Handling workshop was an interesting one where facilitators Tanya Goel and Naina Arora worked with Class 10 students and introduced the concept of how to organize any kind of data that is collected and communicate it to audience through graphs. Our young researchers did an exhaustive data collection on how many children went to school, how many did not go to school and also the reasons behind it. Music workshop, handled by Soumya, included knowing one another’s songs, rhythm pattern exercises and making music using everyday objects. The performance included students using chairs, tables, empty pet bottles turned into shakers and sticks to create music where people couldn’t keep themselves from tapping their feet.
Workshops rolled out during the day and evenings were spent with children where they showed their getaways. The interns were able to see the village through the children’s eyes.
At the end of the project children showcased their learnings in the Kotra Learning Festival. It was a big hit. Amidst rains every hour, the children were at their enthusiastic best to show what they had achieved. The guests included media people, representatives from other organizations, the village head, community members and new children who were not part of the project. All were ecstatic looking at the achievement of children.
Interns, ever so satisfied with the way the festival turned out, were so overwhelmed by the time spent during internship that it extended for another fortnight. Two of them stayed back as the Kshamtalaya experience had liberated them, an experience that is almost ideal, where individuals are accepted in their truest forms and are believed to be carriers of change, making every human realise their true potential.
Kotra Learning Festival was not only a huge success with the local community, it also got immense appreciation and wide coverage in several regional and national newspapers. You can check out one such article in the local edition of Dainik Bhaskar, a national daily, here.