Am I being a part of the problem or part of the solution? (This is a good question to ask ourselves on a daily basis.)
Meghana Musunuri, The founder and chairperson of Fountainhead Global School and Jr College, Hyderabad shares her story on how small changes can impact a great deal.
It all about the way we look at problems around us. Problems are not stop signs, they are guidelines and opens up many venues to learn from.
For her, education encompasses but goes beyond academics. As an education futurist, she wanted to create a space for the next generations to learn without fear, to face the highly technical world through student centric approaches such as Blended learning and Problem based learning to acquire the essential life skills, to prepare them to face the future both technically and emotionally.
She says, 'The journey from ‘ME(just me)’ to ‘WE(me and my team)’ is helping in transforming education for human flourishing'. They were one of the early Google Hangout users (2012-13) to invite people from around the world to interact with our school children online to share their experiences and ideas. They introduced futuristic digital solutions which helped in broadening boundaries for teachers and students to learn beyond classroom or school. They played a major role requesting Google to create a platform for educational institutions to share their best practices so it can be replicated to reach and benefit many more. Fountainhead Global school is the first Indian school to be mentioned by Google for Education, which right now has more than 90 million users.
They conduct workshops for students on how to be empathetic—and use an 8-month-old baby for this practical session where the students identify the similarities and differences between them and the baby. They learn, in-spite of the differences; it does not make the baby any less adorable. They help them to apply this learning with their peer group.
Their school rule 5:1, “Mention five good things before making one complaint” is a super success, which helps students to learn and appreciate the good in others. The focus on creating positive energy, where they consciously project healing energies out into the world. when we do act of kindness for others, we create euphoric, happy vibration that spreads.
It is important to create awareness about civic sense and social responsibility by involving students in live, real-world projects. They encourage their students to participate in social activities like volunteering for Save Water and Nature (SWAN), Car-Free Thursdays, Raahagiri, Beat Plastic and Rally for Rivers. They also raised funds and donated to Hyderabad Urban Makeover, Robinhood Army, Bring a Smile, One Lakh Hands, Rice Bucket Challenge and Project Recycle Bin. They adopted a few orphanages and old age homes as well and started campaigns such as ‘Adopt a Tree & Save Earth’, ‘Lead by example’ ‘Beat Plastic’, ‘Beat dengue’ and #YetIDid. Experiencing the joy through the art of giving from a tender age plays a major role in moulding children’s character.
She says, 'our Problem-based learning (PBL) projects have a student-centered approach in which students learn about a subject by working in groups to solve an open-ended problem'. This problem, is what drives the motivation and the learning. The Meedikunta Lake (urban lake) revival stands a true example for this. This project created many avenues for students to learn by gathering necessary information and explore the issue. They learned to identify the problem, new concepts, principles and skills.
It all started as a simple child rights discussion and where she was discussing on how their voice matters in saving or safe guarding Natural resources like forests, lakes, rivers, mountains and many more. When given a chance between them speaking and their actions speaking, being the smart generation that they are, they chose both. and they have clarity not to be a part of the problem but to be a part of a solution. In the heart of Hyderabad, surrounded by Aparna County, Matrusrinagar, SMR Fountainhead is where Meedikunta lake lies. The lake was surrounded by several problems that needed to be tacked one at a time. From open defecation to no pathways to the lake, it had it all. It was covered with dense undergrowth and trash simultaneously with underground water pollution. Since it was used as a dumping ground equally by the society and industries, it led to becoming a breeding ground for mosquitoes and harmful viruses. The rainwater inlets were choked while sewage inlets were opened into the lake. Overall, the lake required a helping hand to prevent further encroachment.
Due to the constant efforts of our fountainheads, in raising awareness, funds, involving the local communities and promoting organic festivals, the lake was cleaned and restored to its pristine beauty. A Social bund on all four sides and proper boundaries along with jogging and cycling tracks were established. A clear path surrounding the lake was made, with conventional sanitation standards. We cleared the undergrowth, and stopped open defecation, removed illegal bore-wells, and encroachment. We unclogged the sluice, constructed rainwater inlets and a weir.
Removed all the water hyacinth, duck weed, medical waste, construction dumps and plastic waste from and around the lake. Diverted most of the sewage and residential waste out of the lake. Took up measures to improve the quality of water, planted fruit and flower bearing tree saplings to restore the bio-diversity of the lake. Even amidst the lockdown protocols and a deadly virus spreading terror, our School director Mr Sridhar shouldered this project and our committed team persisted on the completion of Meedikunta lake revival. Their school head-girl Miss Bilvoa Vunnam created a mascot and named it Cheru. Cheru is the personification of a lake. The spirit of Cheru is heard in the twittering of birds, the rippling of mighty waters and the sweet breathings of flora and fauna today.
The process involved our students in estimating to solve the problem, awareness in pro’s and cons, collaboration to get it rolling, team work to support each other, leadership to take responsibility and presentation to share their plan of action. Ideation, implementation, accountability, auditing and performance review helped improve the life skills in our students.
This self funded project of reviving Meedikunta lake in Miyapur, Hyderabad benefited not just our school students but also other schools, colleges, business outlets, more than150,000+ pilgrims visiting religious outlets every week and around 9,000 families living around it. Please visit www.fhgs.in/charity for referenceBetween problem identification and solution, we could create a complete hands on experience for learning.
Throughout our life, our perspective evolves due to personal experiences, exposure, and relationships. School is a best place where one can take an issue and turn it into an opportunity to learn. These can help one to transform their views and understand new topics in a better perspective. Transformation is the outcome of all authentic learning.