Friday, October 16, 2009

Amartya Sen at the Pratichi Trust Annual Workshop on "Syllabus, Teaching, and Learning and Mid-Day Meal," Shantiniketan, 2-3 August 2009

Prof. Amartya Sen speaking at the Pratichi Trust Workshop

From Kumar Rana, Pratichi Trust:
"The Pratichi Annual Workshop on "Syllabus, Teaching and Learning and Mid-Day Meal" was held at Shantiniketan on 2-3 August, 2009. It's an event that the Pratichi Trust has been organizing since 2002, and Professor Sen has been one of the most consistent participants at this meeting. It's a platform where parents, teachers and others including policy-level people, academics, and activists interact. At the last meeting, 60 participants spoke, and of them 45 were parents and teachers. As a general rule, meetings are addressed by "big people" to be heard by the "small" ones; but our meeting turned the table around. Also, we took another radical decision - all of the four sessions were chaired by teachers and the general public, and the male/female ratio of the chairpersons was exactly 50-50."

Recurring themes:

1. The preparation of the syllabus, training modules and textbooks needs to be decentralized. Teachers have to be incorporated into this process.
2. The syllbus should be so prepared that the conception of 'home task' at the primary level - found no where in the world except the subcontinent - be abolished, without making some immediate systemic changes.
3. The mid-day meal has not yet been univerlized; this must be completed on urgent basis. Also, problems in the programme - supply, allocation, operation - need to be eradicated. The transparency mechanism that was in place in its initial days has to be brought back with added vigour.


The Workshop "focused on the syllabus at the primary level and its connection with teaching and learning; and the implementation of the mid-day meal program, particularly at the upper primary (5 - 8 standard) stage. With 320 participants from villages across West Bengal, it was a remarkable event that opened paths for democratic dialogue in a more meaningful and effective way."

The audience at the Pratichi Trust Workshop