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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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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President Obama meets Quest Alliance

How often do you get the chance to ask the former President of the United States for advice on your work? It’s an opportunity that Quest Alliance Executive Director Aakash Sethi was given earlier this month, when he was invited by the Obama Foundation to the December 1 Town Hall session in New Delhi.

Joining almost 300 young Indian leaders for discussions around active citizenship, Aakash spoke directly to the president about youth employability in the Indian context. After introducing President Obama to Quest’s work in school dropout prevention and job-readiness, Aakash probed the president on the best way forward in creating young people with 21st Century skills. We were struck by how far the president’s answer, with its focus on the importance of building scalable models, resonated with Quest’s values and larger vision.

Listen to the question and answer at 1 hour 59 minutes in the video above, and read the transcript below.

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Design Thinking to Stay Learner Centred

Design thinking and innovation studio Quicksand has worked with Quest Alliance since its inception. Here, Quicksand’s Kevin Shane & Babitha George explain why sustained engagement is at the heart of designing something with the ability to meaningfully improve the quality of life of the individuals being designed for.

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Design thinking has become a favoured methodology for innovation and user-centered design in recent years. While there is a lot of interest and excitement, the nature of this process requires sustained engagement and commitment, in order to allow for sustained change. At its core, design thinking is about empathy and a deep understanding of people’s needs — and designing for those needs.

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