Creating an Equitable Society in India through an Alternative Approach to Education



By: Sukeerti Raikwar | AKP India Coordinator



JAIPUR, INDIA | Since early times, art and creativity have played a significant role in human development. Art has evolved as a form of communication from the pre-historic era. The rock paintings found in caves and rock shelters have provided evidence of the coexistence of art and human civilization. Research has scientifically proven that exposure to art and creativity can build healthy, happy, responsible and tolerant communities of the future.

In our effort to support non-linear learning and transform local communities, Abercrombie and Kent Philanthropy (AKP) has partnered with the Digantar Vidyalay, an alternative approach to education that aims at providing quality education to the rural and underprivileged children in the outskirts of Jaipur. With AKP’s support, Digantar will fulfill their belief that every child is capable of learning, being a responsible citizen of the society, defining his or her goals in life, finding ways of achieving the chosen goals, taking appropriate actions, and of being responsible for the actions taken.

The learning at Digantar functions on ungraded classroom teaching which gives the children the freedom to learn at their own pace. Art is an important part of learning. Art in any form, be it literature, dance or music, when pursued with passion gives access to unexplored vistas, and through art children can discover who they are, what they have the potential to do and what the future holds for them. The goal is to make the children self-motivated and independent learners, so the accent is on teaching them to think critically. The foundation of Digantar was laid with the vision to build a school embedded in the local community, where all its participants actively own the learning process.

Digantar aims at transforming a very conservative society to becoming an equitable one through its unique way of education. The school’s core vision emerged from the significant social inequality in the region, characterized by a gender ratio where female foeticide and child marriages are still practiced. Digantar takes in children from these very communities, teaches them to question the existing norms, and recognize their own potential for action and their capacity to influence each other as well as the community at large. As a policy Digantar has a 60:40 ratio in terms of girls:boys in every group and today, girls outnumber boys at the school.

With the initial support of AKP, Digantar is widening its skill development and art program to increase the horizon of the children studying in Digantar in terms of the activities the school provides, by giving the ex-Digantar girls and other community members an opportunity to come and utilize the space, equipments and pursue their interests in the areas of sewing, plumbing and carpentry etc.,thus enabling them to become entrepreneurs.

A&K guests have the opportunity to visit the school and connect with the children, learn about the concept of the school and the changes it has brought in the community. With prior information, guests can participate in an activity or play a locally popular game with the children.