Joy Of Giving: Bal Utsav – schooled in a museum

Fun metro rides, craft sessions, boogie woogie and more is what kids at Bal Utsav, the unique museum school are going to experience this JGW.


Under a shady banyan tree, by a gushing river, in a wooded forest – we’ve all dreamt of ‘unschool’ schools – spaces that must be many times more exciting than the bench-armed, chalk dust filled classrooms we are used to. But how about a school inside a museum? Where lifesize exhibits de-mystify concepts colourfully without being imposing teaching aids?

Bal Utsav is an interesting experiment to school dropout kids in museums across the city of Bangalore. These are schools that don’t require additional infrastructure (we have many museums in the city), the curriculum and dynamic learning environment is a big draw for kids to stay in school, and quality education is provided by training good teachers.

A school within a museum.

A school within a museum.

On the occasion of the Joy Of Giving Week, Ramesh Balasundaram, co-founder, Bal Utsav, tells us about all the extra fun things their kids are going to indulge in this week.

A little bit about yourself – individually/as an organization and the cause you are passionate about, and why. 

40% of India’ population is less than 18 years of age – that translates to over 400 million children, the highest in any country. A ‘no barriers’ based approach to reaching out to these children can actually transform the way they live, think and act – this is the idea behind the formation of Bal Utsav.

What’s happening at Bal Utsav this Joy Of Giving Week?

We are gearing up for a week’s worth of celebration – 7 days of learning, entertainment and exchange programs.

How would the event/drive now impact the project finally? Where are these funds going?

We don’t build anything extra as a principle. We reuse everything available, just like our museums. And in the same vein, we’d like to use all the existing infrastructure available to create a “Wow” moment for our kids. The week long celebrations help the children see what is available outside of their homes and schools as they know it.

• The Student Exchange Program – helps them visit a school and understands that environment that a school going child learns in.

• The ride in Namma Metro is a peek at what the CBD of Bangalore looks like and showcases the need for use of Public Transport.

• The crafts workshop in association with The Alternative would get children to create something with their own hands, understand the principles of recycle and reuse.

• The fundraiser – helps us offset the running cost of the school. The school approximately requires Rs. 50 per day per child. We are especially raising funds to help admit some of the children who will join mainstream schools next academic year.

Bal Utsav I day

We reuse existing infrastructure without creating anything new

 How did it all come together for you? 

The Government does a great job to bring children to school through free textbooks, uniforms, bicycles, mid-day meals etc, but puts in little effort to keep them there. Poor quality of schools also leads to poor attendance, poor retention, poor performance and huge dropouts. The other significant reason for non-school going children is the age factor – a growing number of children who didn’t get admitted into schools at an earlier age and are 10-12 years of age, so find it difficult to see a possibility of sharing a class with children half their age.

We heard about an effort called OASiS in Bhopal and worked with them to replicate the model of using museums as schools in Bangalore.

Bal Utsav kids at Vishveshvaraya Museum

Bal Utsav kids at Vishveshvaraya Museum

Your personal memorable giving high?

When we gave up our corporate jobs to work with children. Every time we see a child who has never held a pencil before go on to write words and sentences, we experience our individual giving moment.

How do you think people can give better?

Whenever we have reached out to anybody asking them to ‘give’, they have always been glad to.

It would be great to have more people join the bandwagon of participating/giving for social innovations and new ideas that can help solve today’s problems.

The Bal Utsav JGW event schedule

Day and Date Events Schedule
Tuesday 2 October 2012 Distribution of Clothes, Uniforms, Shoes and Toys.
Wednesday 3 October 2012 Student Exchange Program with the The Deens Academy, Whitefield Bangalore
Thursday 4 October 2012 Joy Ride in Namma Metro (Supported by Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited – BMRCL and MTR Hotel)
Friday 5 October 2012
Saturday 6 October 2012
  • Crafts Workshop (In association with The Alternative)
  • Food for Change – A Fundraiser to support our cause
Sunday 7 October 2012
  • Annual Day Celebrations choreographed by the team at Shiamak Davar’s Institute of Performing Arts (Supported by Victory Arts Foundation (VAF) and SAP Labs)
  • Visioning Exercise for the Parents and Children at the SAP Labs Campus

You can connect with Bal Utsav through their website, the Bal Utsav Facebook page and blog. Reach Ramesh at ramesh@balutsav.org to know more about the museum school.


  ABOUT THE AUTHOR
The future is not a result of choices among alternative paths offered by the present, but a place that is created--created first in the mind and will, created next in activity. The future is not some place we are going to, but one we are creating. more

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  ABOUT THE AUTHOR
The future is not a result of choices among alternative paths offered by the present, but a place that is created--created first in the mind and will, created next in activity. The future is not some place we are going to, but one we are creating. more

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