About 1,500 students in India’s Bihar state participated in Learning Links Foundation’s Hindi adaptation of the Center for Civic Education’s Project Citizen curricular program. Pictured are students conducting field work in a rural community.
Sixty-six teachers and about 1,500 students in government-run schools of India’s Bihar state recently participated in the Project Citizen curricular program, marking the first time Project Citizen was implemented in the Hindi language in this rural state. Working in collaborative groups, students in the eighth and ninth grades identified problems in their communities and developed policy proposals to address these issues.
Learning Links Foundation (www.learninglinksindia.org), the Center’s Civitas International Programs partner, received support from the Public Affairs Office of the United States Embassy in India to conduct the program. Learning Links conducted professional development sessions for participating teachers in February 2012. The teachers then implemented the interactive, project-based curriculum with students in their classrooms. The students researched local issues, selected an issue to address, identified alternative policies for dealing with the issues selected, and developed policy proposals and action plans to promote those policies.
Upon completing their projects, the students presented their policy proposals to an audience of local leaders, educators, lawyers, and the media. Issues addressed by the students included: protection of women, strengthening governance, human rights issues, sanitation, environmental conservation, and harmony in society.
A student from Sakriya Naagrik commented, “Out of all the topics we received, our group chose to work on child labor. Children being exploited are children like us. We believe that they should get an opportunity just like us. We researched on the government policies that exist with regard to child labor and came up with our own set of proposed action such as providing the parents with employable skills or with jobs. This could help us in eradicating child labor and think instead about the children’s welfare.”
After observing the students’ presentations, Mr. Kartikeya, Indian Administrative Service Sub Divisional Magistrate, Danapur, spoke about how much society has to lose if citizens are passive. He observed that the students have already started at a young age the work that adults engage in while active in the fields of politics, social work, and government services. Emphasizing life skills, he shared how in today’s competitive world it is important to go beyond jobs, salaries, higher degrees, and a comfortable life, and display mental development, will power, resilience, confidence, and communication. Interacting with the students, he sensed that they displayed these qualities and skills.
Project Citizen, as it is used in India, is an adaptation of materials originally developed by the Center for Civic Education (www.civiced.org). Through the program, students learn how to monitor and influence public policy. Project Citizen has been adapted for use in more than sixty-five countries around the world.