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Passion, Perseverance and impact Patitapaban’s journey

Patitapaban Choudhury, a Gandhi Fellowship Alumnus batch 2017-19, currently works as a Project Lead, Chirag Foundation. Read on to know about various projects he undertook as a Gandhi Fellow, his journey and learning.

Patitapaban hails from Odisha and holds a degree in BBA from KIIT University. After his college, he joined Gandhi Fellowship with an enthusiasm to contribute something to society. When asked about his Gandhi fellowship experience, he mentions- ‘Gandhi Fellowship inspired me to have a “larger than life goal”. I always believed that selfless service and endless learning are the two ways to serve society and earn a living for myself. In this fast-paced world, I am someone who believes I don’t have to rich to do charity, but my actions to situations around me can help me attain these things. 2 years of Grassroot experience has capacitated me in dealing with my emotions, reflecting on my actions and planning it for the same. I get up every morning today with a goal to acquire and work selflessly towards it.’

During his Fellowship, he observed that a lot is taught but little is learnt or understood by children. He was aware of the fact that learning at school can be a joyful experience, if we change our perception about the child, show faith in his/her creative instinct and their capacity to construct knowledge out of their experiences can lead to a Joyful Learning environment for students. While he was doing Classroom Immersion (CRI), one of the processes in Fellowship, he found that students were very eager to draw and paint their own world which they visualize. So, he has started “Creativity Classes” where each student gets an opportunity to draw something or contribute something for decorating the classroom and walls. A total of 286 students participated in this process & there was a shift in the behavior of few teachers who showed resistance earlier and it was possible when they saw their kids drawing and decorating the walls of the school and classroom. Later, every teacher took responsibility to conduct these activities frequently in their classes.

He understood that there is a lack of spaces for children to share their creative work. He saw that in classrooms, children spoke only when they are usually answering the teacher’s questions or repeating the teacher’s words. They rarely do things, nor do they have opportunities to take initiative. He felt spaces need to be developed that enable children to find their voices, nurture their curiosity—to do things, to ask questions and to pursue investigations, sharing and integrating their experiences with school knowledge

Based on learning of the first year he and his teammates of Jhunjhunu conceptualize the idea of ‘No Bag day’ with an objective “to create a space for channelizing the energy of children by the opportunity to express self in a joyful learning environment”. Further to this, the focus was on –

A) Prioritizing the opportunities for children where the possibility to explore day-to-day resources around them are more.

B) Appreciate the creativity of children and encourage cultural values.

C) Children are able to understand the importance of listening, expressing self and communication,

Furthermore, space was also utilized to highlight the talent of kids by engaging the community and collaborating with them in the process of a child’s learning. A study cum survey conducted by the team of Gandhi Fellows of Jhunjhunu Cluster was part of a phase of idea conceptualization. The focus was on the socio-emotional learning of children. The team found that there is a need to create fear-free & Joyful learning spaces. The spaces for child creativity need to be nourished. The absence of these spaces may lead to resulting in the absentees in schools, slow learning pace of a child, etc.

Speaking about No Bag Day, he says- ‘Till now, I have focused on various things- sports, studies, co-curricular and excelled in all at various levels and my journey has made me realize that everyone should have the right to opportunities for experiencing and understanding what s/he wants or enjoys doing. For example – now I know that I enjoy sports more than studying. So, I wanted to give the same opportunity to the students of Rajasthan, to explore what they want I.e in the form of No bag day.’

‘No bag day’ was implemented in Alsisar, Jhunjhunu and Chirawa block respectively. A total of 5220 children and 386 teachers from 46 schools covering the area of 16 panchayat elementary education officials have participated in this process. The idea was appreciated at various levels from district to state. Rajasthan has expanded this idea in all government schools across the state in the form of ‘Joyful Saturday’ in the year 2018. In 2020, the Government of Rajasthan has allocated funds for the ‘No bag day’ project by making it a flagship scheme in its education budget of 2020.


 

This initiative ‘No Bag Day’ has given space to children to share their own thoughts and engage in expressing themselves. At the same time, it has also created a challenge in front to teachers to think innovatively and design plans in such a way that each child engages with the activities and learning process and at the same time enjoys and develop her skills like creativity, communication, values, utilization of resources and working in a team.

Post Gandhi Fellowship, Patitapaban joined Chirag Foundation as the Project Lead. He manages its entire portfolio and handles the end-to-end businesses of the foundation. His roles are mainly fundraising, setting up the advisory board, website establishment, conceptualizing and designing programs and leading programs of the sister organization i.e Anant Naad Foundation.

‘I want to establish a system of governance where there are people and processes working compassionately and working selflessly to achieve their dreams. 10 years down the line, I want to have a command over my voice and statements that I speak to my people. I have a big dream of becoming the youngest chief minister of Odisha & secondly, I wish to have a trust that would have the type of governance which is mentioned above and serve people.’ he shares with zest when asked about his future aspirations.

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