Children can change the world

| September 21, 2010

Kiran Bir Sethi is the school principal behind the Design for Change competition, which started in India but now involves schools from Sydney to Salzburg. Launching this
year’s competition at Ashley Primary School in Surrey, England, in mid July, Sethi said, “Don’t tell children what they should be doing to help the world: let them tell you.”
Sethi cited an example from her native India. “There was a village school that did not have a door for its bathroom, so the girls stopped going to school when they
reached puberty,” Sethi said. “The boys decided to solve that problem by weaving a door out of coconut leaves. Then they went to the girls and said ‘you can come back
to school now’.” The founder of Riverside School in Ahmedabad in 2001, Sethi tries to change the perception that if children are not in the classroom, they are not learning. At Riverside, student spend 40% of their time out in the community working on projects, but still achieve results that make it one of the top 10 schools in India.

“Children are deeply competent,” she said. “If you tell them that they can, they will. It’s as simple as that.” The Design for Change initiative has revealed which issues children in different parts of the world consider the most important. In Finland, they want to end war; in the UK, global warming; and in India, poverty. Children in Brazil care about eradicating drug addiction, and in Bhutan, plastic bags.

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Category: Spring 2010 Edition

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