A Royal Affair for Education
Catalysing Decentralised Education Programs in Mysuru: A Collective Effort
Date: September 20, 2023
With the early morning sun just peeping over the horizon, we were already on the road. Embarking on a road trip filled with excitement and zeal, we headed towards the majestic city of Mysuru. It felt as if; we were preparing for a grand celebration or perhaps a wedding. As we boarded the bus, the buzz of anticipation for the day ahead was infectious. The group was busy with discussions and rehearsals, setting the tone and plan for the day. We busied ourselves by filling goodie bags with souvenirs—a token of this memorable journey. While some caught up on the morning sleep, others relished the scenic view on the Mysuru highway as they munched on Khara cookies.
Our purpose in Mysuru was to bring together a diverse group of stakeholders, including district officials, civil society organisations, and regional influencers, to collectively address local education challenges. This initiative was a crucial step towards setting an example for nationwide efforts aimed at achieving “Education Equity,” a core objective of our initiative known as Shikshāgraha. Through Shikshāgraha, we want to enable the education leaders, District Institutes of Education and Training (DIET) & Civil Society Organisations to lead the co-creation efforts for the need-based programs. With the agency to design programs, educators will own the change and commit to enhancing student outcomes.
Reaching the destination, our team sprang into action, effortlessly transforming the space. We worked on seating arrangements and meticulously arranged our storyboards and posters for the gallery walk. We also ensured that our virtual attendees were seamlessly connected, testing Zoom links and practising the customary ‘hello-hellos’ and ‘am I audible… nope… now yes!’.
It was crucial that every detail was in place, from experimenting with camera angles to positioning our large Shikshāgraha banner in the perfect spot. The atmosphere was charged with excitement to make this gathering a resounding success.
The roundtable discussions kicked off. The day unfolded with a thought-provoking and inspiring keynote address by Dr. Shalini Rajneesh – Additional Chief Secretary, at the Planning Department, Government of Karnataka, setting an empowering tone for the entire event. Dr. Rajneesh stressed the urgent need for a more equitable education system, calling for unity in creating equal opportunities for all learners.
One of the most significant highlights of the event was our enchanting encounter with royalty—the charismatic His Highness Yaduveer Krishnadatta Chamaraja Wadiyar, the King of Mysuru. He wasn’t just a king; he is a visionary, passionate about the Shikshāgraha movement and sharing ideas to revolutionise education. Meeting him felt like touching a slice of history, intertwined with the ongoing need to enhance education in present times.
As the event gained momentum, we were honoured to have Raghavendra Rajkumar and his wife Mangala, esteemed members of the Rajkumar family (veteran actors) – adding a touch of legacy and cultural richness, reminding us of region’s rich heritage.
The meet-up seamlessly transitioned into an engaging roundtable discussion—a gathering of individuals from diverse backgrounds, all united by a common purpose. The roundtable blended traditional and modern, symbolising the district’s promising evolution.
During the discussion, participants demonstrated a strong commitment to improving education in the region. They discussed modelling a district for educational excellence, supporting the Mysuru zone administration, and enhancing classrooms with technology. They plan to involve parents, train teachers, and pioneer new programs.
Participants also pledged to share knowledge and work as knowledge partners to boost student development. They also expressed interest in engaging communities and collaborating on building the capacity of rural teachers. RP Mahesha- The District Education Officer of Mandya District offered support, and key figures endorsed the effort.
Overall, the participants recognized that education is a collective responsibility that extends beyond classrooms, and they were dedicated to creating a brighter educational landscape by restoring decision-making agency and fostering a holistic learning environment for all.
After the event, filled with inspiration and renewed energy, we enjoyed a fantastic lunch. The highlight being hot gulab-jamun on creamy ice cream, a delightful dessert to end our meal. Satisfied, we visited Chamundi Hills, offered prayers at Chamundi Devi and enjoyed the breathtaking panoramic view from the hilltop.
The journey back to Bangalore was a mix of reflection and excitement, as we contemplated the impact of our efforts and eagerly looked forward to more such adventures in the realm of education. The Bangalore rains welcomed us back. In many cultures, rain is seen as a harbinger of good things to come. Could it be nature’s way of signalling a promising tomorrow? Only time will unveil the secrets it carries. We eagerly await what the future holds.