Students making paper flowers out of used chart papers
Rajesh* of Grade VIII brings an old plastic geometry box to find out if he can utilize it in any way while Anju Kumari* asks her teacher Ms. Sunanda*, “Miss, can we use this old newspaper pile as well?” Students have gained interest to convert waste material into resources after they were shown a video about how plastic is affecting the environment and how waste can be converted into useful resources. They have come up with an interesting name – ‘Kabaad se Jugaad’ translating into ‘Best out of Junk’. Payal Kumari* of Grade VII from Ujiyarpur block of Samastipur even calls it ‘Kachra se Sona’ which literally means ‘Gold from garbage’.
These students started bringing the unnecessary things and/or trash from their homes. It included used plastic bottles, single use pens, rugged newspapers, old ribbons, glass bottles, broken wooden pieces, plastic bags, etc. These students, on their way to school, started collecting waste, which they call reusable resource. They never knew what they are going to do with the trash they collected but when asked, were confident enough to say “Sir, we will utilize it all”. They were assigned a task to think of an innovative idea to make use of the waste they have piled up.
Ms. Sunanda, their teacher showed them how to roll the newspaper and make it into a paper stick which was glued to form various geometrical shapes and structures. Gradually, the students found ways to make a photo frame, pen stand, flower bouquet, etc. These were used to decorate their classrooms, a way to showcase their creativity.
All these activities are conducted in the last hour everyday. Students follow different themes on different days of the week. Some of the themes are arts and crafts, role-play, storytelling, sports, music and dance, skit, singing and poem writing. Their ideas are put up on a board called ‘Gatividhi (activity) Board’. “Tuesdays are now called Mangal Pandey Diwas in the Government Middle School Desua of Ujiayrpur Block”, said Raman*, a block official. He also added “We asked our students to bring any waste material like used plastic bottles, cardboard, used pens, on Tuesdays. It is a day of creativity, as introduced by the Bal Sansad”.
“Even I was not sure what the Bal Sansad was going to do with these plastic bottles,” said the Headteacher. It has enhanced the interest of students to stay back until the last hour.
With the motivation received from their teachers and Headteacher, these students organised a ‘Baal Mela’ (Children’s Fair) named as ‘Vidyalaya Samudaya Samagam’ (a gathering of school and community). The objective was to demonstrate and share the ideas of converting waste material into creative art work. Students of all the cluster level schools along with their teachers and parents were invited. Other school students were also requested to participate. A total of six schools took part in this fair.
“I am immensely happy to see the classroom of the school on Baal Mela, with the art and craft work of the students. Looking at waste material converted into flower pots, photo frames, wind chimes, glass bangles and baskets makes me joyful”
– Sunita Mishra*, Block Education officer of Hasanpur, Samastipur.
Now there are seven schools in Samastipur district that have envisaged these ideas of waste resource management, thereby making useful things out of it. Baal Sansads have initiated it, and is developing the creative concept among more and more children. As a result, students are also learning the optimal utilization of resources. This seeds the practice of ‘Reuse and Recycle’ among students, aiming towards a green planet. ‘No plastic’ is nothing but a lifestyle in times when we are so comfortable with plastic that we don’t think beyond it. In Assam, a school is asking for plastic waste as their fees in order to encourage students to reduce its usage.
While interacting with these students and their teachers in Samastipur, I got inspired with their passion of creating something useful. This approach not only induces curiosity and creativity among students but also imbibes the idea of sustainability. They are developing critical thinking and adding food for thoughts. Unless we think differently, we cannot expect change to happen and sustain.
*Names changed to protect identity.