The Ragi Project: Lessons, Challenges and Potential

KICS Sharing Session #41

The Ragi Project: Lessons, Challenges and Potential

Speakers: Vasantha Kumari, Roshni Ravi and Pallavi Varma Patil 

(Poorna Learning Centre and Azim Premji University, Bangalore)

Date and Time: February 17, 2018, 4:00 – 6:00 PM

Venue: CWS Conference Hall,

12-13-438, Street No. 1, Tarnaka, Secunderabad – 500017
(Please check location map at the end of this mail)

A school in urban Bangalore, Poorna Learning Centre, decided to include organic farming of a millet, Ragi (Finger Millet), in their curriculum in 2017. The children of classes 4, 5 and 6 learn the skills of farming. Not only do they farm and learn to do it ecologically, they also learn various age appropriate concepts of Maths, Science, Language and Social Science. In addition, at school, the children and teachers cook and eat different dishes made with Ragi, atleast once a week.

Titled, The Ragi Project, this initiative of introducing farming in school and integrating learning through it has promoted (1) ecological, small scale, millet farming amongst school children and through them their families in an urban milieu (2) space for manual labour in school education (3) space for local communities, local language and the local environment to take centre stage in a child’s learning (4) engagement of school learning with real world issues and (5) introduction of millet based food in everyday diet to improve nutrition.

Drawing lessons from the principles of Gandhian education, ‘Nayi Taleem‘, The Ragi Project makes an attempt to restructure the world of school education in today’s times. Farming Ragi and cooking Ragi are not mere activities for children in school to participate in but enablers for teachers to draw out subject lessons and break down societal barriers in and around the school.

This presentation will talk about some obvious and some not so obvious gains (and losses) of the speakers’ year long journey and what it takes to bring in farming as a key part of a middle school curriculum. In addition, the presentation will focus on how The Ragi Project has allowed the school community to imagine an alternative future of growing and consuming food.

Vasantha Kumari teaches middle school Science and high school Biology at Poorna Learning Centre for the last 8 years, and also leads the gardening efforts with students at Poorna. Vasantha comes from a family of farmers in Chikmanglur district and with her training in M.Sc (Chemistry) and B. Ed., Vasantha integrates the worlds of farming and science education seamlessly.

Roshni Ravi has been learning and unlearning Language and Social Science with middle school students at Poorna Learning Centre. A TISS graduate with a Masters in Counselling, Roshni believes and works towards child centred learning. Deeply interested in issues around Food and Culture, Roshni coordinates The Ragi Project at the school level.

Pallavi Varma Patil teaches MA Development and MA Education courses at Azim Premji University, Bangalore. Her teaching and research interests revolve around ‘Food and Identity’ and ‘Gandhian Education’ and she works with interested educators and schools to try and enjoy implementing ‘Nayi Taleem’ ideas for today and tomorrow.

Sharing session is one of the regular activities of Knowledge In Civil Society (KICS) trust. These are organised around contemporary themes relevant to KICS work as an exercise of learning from each other. The objective is to deepen our shared understanding of the theme and to appreciate the key cross linkages, especially in the realm of Science, Technology & Society. You can find a list of previous sharing sessions here.

All are invited.
Please register your participation by email to scienceswaraj@gmail.com

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