There are a few things or two we can learn from Akshar Forum school outside Dispur in Assam. Every week the 110 pupils are charged a ‘plastic fee.’
Though the schooling is free, where there is no money to be paid by the students, it has made it mandatory for each student to bring up to 20 items of plastic waste gathered from their homes and the local area for marking their attendance.
This is the only way in which the school felt it could teach parents and students about recycling plastic because merely telling them or educating them led to no change. The school has thus asked parent to send the plastics to the school as fees if they want their children to study there for free. In addition, the parents have to make a “pledge” not to burn plastics.
After collection, the school gets willing students to stuff plastic bags inside plastic bottles to make “eco bricks” which are then be used to construct new school buildings, toilet buildings or pathways. The students are also paid to do this, something which dovetails with another aim of the school: getting children out of the local stone quarries and into education.
Isn’t this a lesson we all schools in the cities in rest of India should learn from this small school in Disapur? Many a times in life, it is the smallest which teaches life lessons.