Proceedings of Chintan Shivir Event at IISER, Pune, 25th-26th March, 2023

Chintan Shivir event was organized by Kishore Bharati on the occasion of the completion of its 50 years, in collaboration with IISER, Pune. The event was attended by about 90-100 participants from different parts of the country and from diverse backgrounds such as education, research, activism, etc. Day-1 and the first half of Day-2 of the event included presentations by participants who had submitted their write-ups on a variety of issues concerning rural-to-urban migration, several socio-political and economic dimensions of it. It also dealt with several recent issues in education such as technology in education, problems of curriculum, assessments, etc which are hardly oriented towards serving needs of the population of rural India nor directed at providing equal access to education.

The presentations made by presenters included diverse topics touching upon a variety of issues such as conditions and role of teachers, the role of digital technology and politics of technology in education, (bullets) alternative creative education models such as Vigyan Ashram and others involving constructive education with communities’ participation, issues revolving around policies on education such as NEP and importance of Common School System, issues related to rights to education and constitution for equal access to education including higher education, the role of NGOs in education, privatization of education and inequality, etc. Several participants shared problems in the education system they encountered and also their experiences of what could alternative education comprise for rural India. Some of the notes on these presentations can be found on where we invite all the participants to share their notes and views and continue the discussions.

Some of the recordings of presentations during Chintan Shivir can be found below;

Day-2 of Chintan Shivir involved forming various groups as highlighted below, which undertook parallel group discussions, and presented their work during the Plenary session.

From the two-day Chintan Shivir event, despite several inconclusive things, certain reflections can be drawn that education including higher education is an issue of the right of every individual, and only by guaranteeing education as a right can we achieve equal education for all. Alternative education focusing on rural communities must involve knowledge construction and social transformation as a goal, Gandhian Nai Taleem was presented by Anil Sadgopal and how spaces can be created for incorporating work as a central part of curriculum and education was presented as one of the alternatives. Under technology and education, the free and open-source software movement was taken as an example of self-sustainable, constructionist, free, and equal access to technology which can be used to tackle issues of surveillance, and privatization of education in the name of digital education. Further, issues of creating assessment systems that can fit work and education are still open issues that can be discussed. Quality education must focus on creating scientific temperament, creative thinkers along with social transformation were the focus of the session. Similarly, environment and climate change the issue which is directly linked with developmental models, as well as education for creating a healthy environment and saving the future of the world were some of the topics which came out to be focussed as part of alternative education.

Chintan Shivir is an initiative to ponder upon what all are the failures of models of education so far and what needs to be comprised in alternative education, the discussion is not conclusive as many many more topics, ways, methods, and strategies can be incorporated in socially oriented alternative education, which needs to be discussed more. We invite all the participants who attended Chintan Shivir as well as those who are interested in pondering about problems of education and society are invited to write on and continue thinking and discussing so that we can create more realities to tackle these problems.

Pictures of Chintan Shivir event: