By students, for students

How Bal Sansad, or child parliaments, enable students to find their voices

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“The PM has a budget for the nation. Why don’t we have a budget for the school?” – Bal Sansad Student, MS Dalsinghsarai, Samastipur District, Bihar

With non-cognitive skills such as critical reasoning and the ability to engage in meaningful debates becoming ever-more important in a fast changing job market, enabling young people to articulate questions such as these is crucial.

The idea of Bal Sansad (or ‘Child Parliaments’) within government elementary schools is not new. A model United Nations program has been running internationally since the mid twentieth century, while the Indian government first proposed the idea of Child Parliaments almost twenty years ago. In practice, its implementation has been sporadic and inconsistent. In Bihar, where Quest Alliance run the Anandshala program in the Samastipur district, interventions to enliven the Bal Sansad Child Parliaments date back to 2012.

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Gender Representation at Work

How Quest Alliance moved from 33% female staff to 50% female staff in just one year

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Quest Alliance is an organization which practices what it preaches to the world. One of the core areas of focus for the organization over the last year was to improve our work on gender. To make it a more meaningful focus, we started with the creation of a gender strategy for the organization. This focused on gender not just in the programs we deliver, but also how we practice gender equity as a whole organization.

When this process began in June 2016 we had a ratio of fewer than 30% of female staff to male across the entire organization. Most of these women were based out of our head office in Bangalore, while the field locations showed a much more skewed gender ratio – some of our field locations had 12 staff members, only one of whom was a women.

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Learning with your Learners

What does it take to be an impactful facilitator? Nuneseno Chase writes about being an an instructor, counsellor, friend, mentor, administrator … but always a learner.

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Over the years as a facilitator, I’ve discovered that learners have different characteristics, different learning capabilities, different reaction times, different attitudes, values, interests, motivations and personalities.  I need to be aware of these differences and adjust my pedagogy and learning environment accordingly.

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The Innovation Revolution

Only through nurturing a culture of innovation at scale can our education systems change fast enough to meet the needs of 21st Century learners. IDEX Fellow Chloe Edmundson shares how this belief brought her to Bangalore, and to Quest Alliance.

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I am a devout believer in the power of innovation. Innovation has the power to completely shift existing realities both in incremental ways and on immense scales. I strongly believe that one of the most important areas to be harnessing the power of innovation is in our education systems. Our educational systems are simply not built to support the current state of our world. Lack of access to education or using antiquated models means that we are not preparing students to flourish in our rapidly changing world. We are individually and as a planet facing overwhelming issues threatening our very existence, and I believe that the foundation of addressing these issues is through education.

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Campfire, Community and Common Purpose

What does it mean to be a learner? For Divas Vats, participating in the School for Democracy fellowship has been a lesson in the value of struggle, the importance of hope, and the need to do justice to the opportunities for learning that come our way.

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I can’t recall a better start to the year than 2018.

On December 20, my mentor Bezwada Wilson walked into the room and asked me to book the tickets for the fortnightly long workshop of the Democracy Fellowship by the School For Democracy, an initiative of Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS). Over the course of three years, it brings together 52 grassroots activists from 17 states. We fellows engage with the state and work to influence systemic change and struggle for rights and entitlements.

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Grit and Determination plus Digital Literacy? A Recipe for Success

Is the youth bulge a problem of plenty? India must combine old wisdom and new technologies to harness its demographic dividend.

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By 2020, India will become the world’s youngest country in terms of its population. When the certainty of this ‘demographic dividend’ became clear, it was seen as a huge opportunity by economists, academics, think tanks and social scientists, a problem of plenty. As the sheer size of the issue became clearer, and as more data on youth entered the public domain, employers, civil society and the government soon joined the conversation. Over the past decade, this one issue has become arguably one of the most emotive of issues in several Indian policy circles.

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The Future of Social Sector Storytelling

The next step for storytelling in the development sector is “democratization” – enabling more people to capture and share narratives.

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Why do we tell stories? It’s a basic human need, and you can trace it right back through history – through oral traditions, art and literature. Storytelling through the moving image, or video, is a more recent phenomenon, but speaks to the same part of the human spirit. Seeing action unfolding visually before you can have a very profound impact on the viewer.

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