I am in Bangalore to attend and run a session at, this year’s International Democratic Education Conference (IDEC). I used the opportunity to arrive early to talk with some teachers and especially to gain insights into the current situation here from Amukta Mahaptra, who runs SchoolScape based in Bangalore. (Amukta is also the convenor of this Conference and is well known in India for her work.)

Overall the picture here is very similar to what is happening all over the world. State-run schools are very traditional, classroom-based and totally teacher led. There is minimal room for young people to have a say in any aspect of school life. However, outside the formally approved system there are real innovations. Here in India much of the initiative has come from NGOs working within communities. For instance, children’s parliaments have been set up that give a real voice to young people.

Also there are a growing number of schools outside the standard system. Here in Bangalore there are around 100 small Montessori schools. I was able to visit one. Such schools may still keep to imposed curricula but SchoolScape is attempting to work with teachers to encourage a more child-centred approach. I visited the building site for SchoolScape’s new premises which will offer more opportunities for their work.

Looking forward to the Conference, it’s a great opportunity to meet people doing amazing work all over the world. Given the location of this conference there are large groups attending from Nepal, Taiwan, Japan, Thailand, Korea, Hong Kong as well as from India. News from the actual conference will follow

Ian Cunningham, November 12 2018, Bangalore