"It's not about how much we have, but how empathetic we are”.
None of the actions other than selflessly serving society would suffice the purpose of the said quote. Charity is a brightness that one could spread to even the dullest section of society. The fundamental form of worshiping God indeed is to help those you find who can't help themselves. Help those in whose shoes you cannot spend a single minute. Help those who crave having even a single pencil in their hand and wish to write their own book of history. We are the messengers of God for them, just as we have witnessed many. We are the knights in shining armor for their mundane lives.
School days and the environment play a very significant role in paving a path to create sensitivity towards this section. This is the stage of life where children can develop learning with all the required values and skills like collaboration, cooperation, love, and emotions, irrespective of any caste, color, or society, as they get nurtured in a diverse environment where 'Nothing is black or white; everything is alright.' Here, the school community can step into their lives to inculcate a push towards community service, which is a practice through which selfless free service can be provided to benefit society or the community. In school activities, volunteers are appointed, and a student council is created to develop leadership and sensitivity towards others. Community service can have a lot of positive effects on students, such as helping them develop skills, making contacts, and allowing them to improve the quality of life of others. For the holistic growth of a child, volunteering should be mandatory.
There are many ways through which school community can develop this learning amongst children like as
Service/Experiential Learning: An approach to education that connects classroom lessons with real-life cases through community service. We can allow children to adopt a group of students from an underprivileged school or area and take charge to help them learn. "Each one teach one" allows students to understand their personal motivations better, practice academic material outside of the classroom and testing context, develop critical thinking skills while solving real-world problems, and think about problems and social issues in new ways. Teachers can also allocate grades based on these practices and projects. It has many positive benefits for students, beyond meeting graduation requirements.
Skill Development: Schools should be divided into teams based on areas, and they can collect information about available resources, the strength of people, and the needs of people living in a particular area. They can then analyze this information, create a concluding report, and determine which skill sets are required to assist growth in that area. For example, if a survey reveals that people are very skilled in the arts, a group of children can learn and share these skills, educate them, or assist in creating a marketing platform, such as online sales or selling their products during parent-teacher meetings, school exhibitions, or exchange visits. This single community service task can help develop skills such as research, paper presentation, communication, product development, financial management, marketing management, indigenous product promotion, and a collaborative approach. Here, both students and the community benefit.
Turn Your Passion into Charity: If you have a strong passion for animals, create something for animal charity or work to protect animal rights. Alternatively, you can volunteer for an education charity.
Clean Campaign: Our parks and stations would be much cleaner if everyone is committed to keeping them clean. Schools can organize trips for cleanliness campaigns.
Elderly Care: Without volunteers, many of our country's elderly would not be able to access food. Start an initiative to reduce food wastage and work towards achieving zero hunger. Consider creating special funds to assist elderly people.
Internship: Get connected with any organization and offer your best skills. For example, if you are proficient in English, you can teach others to write articles, create content, design advertisements, or do editing work. If you have design or AI coding skills, you can help children or people from disadvantaged backgrounds. Your knowledge can be a helping hand for others, and you may become a certified intern. Companies are increasingly looking for practical knowledge rather than just degrees or grades.
Problem is an Opportunity: Commit yourself to solving a certain number of problems. Identify existing problems, work on finding the best possible solutions, and implement them. There are many more ways to serve society, and the list is endless. Schools can collaborate with off-campus organizations to provide community service opportunities.
Step Towards Sustainability: List activities that go against Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and create a plan with your team to find alternative solutions. You can create 17 groups based on the SDGs, each working on a specific goal in different areas as needed.
Re-think, Re-create: Try to repurpose everything and find ways to avoid wastage in various aspects. Many countries have adopted sustainability in fashion to recreate clothes from used ones. Design thinking and brainstorming should be habits, and students can collaborate with the community to find creative solutions for reusing waste materials.
Educational Policy Emphasizes Bagless Days: School students should mandatorily select any area (with an explanatory cause-and-effect rationale) for a week of community service during bagless days as per the educational policy.
Let me share an example from my school. We have adopted a government school and created a monthly calendar that includes activities such as distributing stationery, books, art supplies, organizing plantation drives, conducting entrepreneurship projects with experiential learning activities, addressing topics related to POCSO (prevention of children from sexual offenses), health, yoga, financial literacy, and computer skills sessions. Additionally, we train them for annual events and provide them with a platform to showcase their talents.
Teachers also assess children in various areas, including notice writing, report analysis, and communication through these activities.
This approach has multiple beneficial outcomes, including:
Promoting happiness and reducing depression
Conducting SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis
Fostering team building
Creating an academic credit bank for higher education, where a student's contributions to society are considered during admissions.
Overall, getting involved in community service projects contributes to the nation's development. Therefore, every child, every teacher, and every community should develop a habit of using their strengths to address someone else's weaknesses.