The more we see the world and are aware of all the things happening around us, the more do we understand the need for education. Starting from raising the younger generation to leading a nation to further protecting the earth and it’s ecosystems, all of this can be done right by means of education. But a particular Guwahati school has taken learning to a new level.
The Akshar School in Guwahati is changing the face of conventional schooling with their unique fees structure – 10 to 20 plastic waste items per week and a pledge never to burn plastic.
When Mazin Mukhtar and Parmita Sarma founded the school in 2016, they had more than one goal in mind. They planned on providing education to the economically backward classes but also help the environment simultaneously.
Their unique fees structure not just helps people with money issues fund for school for their children but also is a step forward to protect the environment in an area where plastic usage is huge.
According to sources, Mazin had come from New York planning to open a school in Assam which eventually led to The Akshar School. Parmita, who hails from Assam, helped Mazin to understand the social landscape of Assam.
Having the same dream of running a school for the underprivileged, the two got married in 2018.
“Our school is different in many ways. We have designed the curriculum basically for poverty-stricken children. While they are regularly imparted lessons on mathematics, science, geography and so on, we have also incorporated vocational skill training so that they can become skilled professionals at the end of the course,” said Mazin.
“Here we have noticed that use of plastic is huge. The plastics are not only harming the environment but also affecting the ecology of the area. People here also used to burn plastic during the winters to keep them warm from cold. So we hit upon the idea of recycling the used plastic and save the environment,” said Parmita.
Mazin and Parmita plan on using the plastics to make eco-bricks which in future can be used to build toilets and pathways when the school campus gets waterlogged. They are also using the plastic as plant guarders in the school premise.
Another speciality of the school is that they do not have traditional admission procedures.
“Ours is not a typical school. Students of different age group attend the same classes sitting in open spaces together. The idea behind this is to break open the conventional ideas of education. And so, instead of age-specific grades or class, we have levels, where students of various age groups study the same thing all at the same time,” Parmita said.
The students of different age groups are tested at the time of admission and are then given a designated “level”. The school conducts tests every Friday. The ones to do well in the test get to climb up a level.
“We have also been encouraging the elder children to teach younger children. In fact, the first thing we teach at Akshar is to become a good teacher. The elder students have to teach younger ones every day. This serves two purposes — one it makes them feel valued and important; secondly, we can have less number of teachers,” said Mazin.
The Akshar School is changing the face of education in the country, one level at a time! They are truly an inspiration to the country.