IDSK-Pratichi Study Circle on Amartya Sen’s Political Philosophy






Third Annual General Meeting of shiksha alochana was held on 22-23 December, 2018, at Vidyasagar Abasik Balika Vidyalaya, Tamna, Purulia. About 130 primary teachers have deliberated on the progress of the  last year’s planned activities  and adopted a couple of innovative resolution to improve the quality of education in West Bengal. Please take a look at the report.   


A workshop on ‘Studying the socio-economic condition of the Adivasis in West Bengal’ was jointly organized by The Asiatic Society and Pratichi Institute on 5 and 6 July 2017 at Asiatic Society. The workshop was attended by two and half scores of participants including academics, activists, journalists and other concerned citizens to identify the research areas and develop the research questions. The deliberations of the workshop are summarized  in the report.  


Panel Discussion:Corporal Punishment Vs Positive Disciplining
On 3rd February, 2015, Sharon Butler renowned psychotherapist of Chicago visited the Pratichi Kolkata office to share her research experience on Corporal Punishment vs. Positive Discipline with the team of researchers. The Institute had also invited some primary school teachers to hear her experience and to have an interactive session of dialogues on this much sensitive issue. The session began with Sharon inviting everyone to share their preliminary views regarding corporal punishment. The teachers pointed out that corporal punishment was much more than physical infliction of pain. It incorporates massive mental humiliation resulting in tremendous psychological damage. They further added that when a school provides a home-like environment to the child, only then can it be termed as being completely free of any sort of punishment. Sharon Butler further pointed out that there is a common tendency to confuse corporal punishment with abuse but these two are distinct from each other. While corporal punishment is used to induce pain and injury for the sole purpose of disciplining children, abuse on the other hand, is primarily used for insulting and humiliating children. Abuse, therefore is further more harmful for the proper cognitive development of a child. Ms Butler shared the key findings of the research with the listeners. First, corporal punishment works only for a short period of time. It gives immediate compliance but neither long term impact nor internalized understanding. Infliction of physical force does not help children understand what wrong they did, why they got beaten and there is no guarantee that the child will not repeat his mistake. Here the child stops his current behaviour only because of the pain of smacking. They do not understand why they should not do such behaviour and so once the teacher/mother leaves, they start repeating the same again. Corporal punishment does not help in creating any relationship with the teachers. Students do not respect or trust the teachers. Corporal punishment also aggravates violence, especially among boys. Study also found that repeated infliction of such measures also creates delinquent behaviour patterns. Tremendous suppression or oppression at home regarding career, also eventually creates violent behaviour patterns. Findings reflected that this form of punishment has passed on over ages and adults who were beaten as children went on to impart corporal punishment to their children. Study also show that this kind of thinking and cultural embeddedness, even creates cases of domestic violence. Corporal punishment teaches children to use aggression to get their way in case of dealing with people weaker than them. Since, they do not understand why they got beaten it teaches them violence which has a connection with love relationships.

Panel Discussion: Sampradaikotar Swarup(True Colours of Communalism)
Pratichi Institute organized a panel discussion on communalism titled 'Samprodaikotar Swarup' on the 24th of February, 2015 at the ABPTA Kolkata office. The speakers for the evening were the eminent scholar of south Asian Studies at Columbia University, Prof. Partha Chatterjee and the noted human rights activist, writer of the “Belly of the Beast”, (an insider’s account of the workings of the RSS) Partha Banerjee. Ashokendu Sengupta, Chairman of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, chaired the panel. The panel discussion was followed by a lively question- answer session in which journalists, researchers and scholars present in the audience participated.

Workshop with Primary School teachers: Primary Education in West Bengal and Teachers' Innovation
An interactive session with 35 primary school teachers, from different corners of West Bengal, took place in Pratichi Kolkata Office on November 18, 2014. The esteemed poet Sankha Ghosh, Professor Sukanta Chaudhuri and Professor Asokendu Sengupta were present to hear them talk. The teachers shared extensively about their difficulties in and outside classrooms and their innovations which had helped them get better of the adverse situations. Ranging from communal disharmony, language barrier between teacher and children, learning while playing, maintaining discipline inside classrooms, community participation, burden of the syllabi to building bio gas plant for school usage--the multi-dimensional sharing session simultaneously revealed the teachers' difficult position and startlingly innovative bent of mind. After the enriching experience the session ended with a vote of thanks from the guests.

Workshop on People’s Health and Public Policy
A Workshop on People’s Health and Public Policy was organised by Pratichi Institute, Institute of Development Studies Kolkata, Society for Health and Demographic Surveillance and Asian Development Research Institute (Patna) on 17-18 July 2014.The workshop witnessed engrossing discussion on various aspects of health care in India and the state of West Bengal with special emphasis on public health. The first day of the workshop was devoted to the presentations of research papers which were primarily based upon first hand field surveys. The presentations were followed by incisive discussions on the papers. On the second day a panel of noted academicians, government representatives and policymakers as well as health activists and practitioners deliberated s different spheres of public health.The speakers of the panel discussion included Jean Dréze, Visiting Professor, Department of Economics, Ranchi University, Dilip Ghosh, Former Special Secretary, Department of Health and Family Welfare, Government of West Bengal, Shashi Panja, Minister of State in charge of Women, Child Development and Social Welfare, Abhirup Sarkar, Professor, ISI and Chairman, State Finance Commission, West Bengal, Punyabrata Gun, Shramajibi Swasthya Udyog, Modhumita Dobe, professor and Head, All India Institute of Hygiene and Public Health, Kolkata. The discussion was chaired by Ashokendu Sengupta, Chairperson, West Bengal Commission for Protection of Child Rights (WBCPCR). The assembly was concluded with a speech from Professor Amartya Sen. Professor Sen’s talk provided insights into India’s health policies and how they suffer from lack of proper promotion of protective health care leads to unnecessary clinical care. He expressed his concerns over India’s gradual moving away from publicly provided universal health coverage towards commercial healthcare. He emphasized on the need of public discussion and debate on these critical aspects of health care.

For events held in 2011, click here.

Reading Festival: Swarupnagar
A few teachers visited the reading festivals that were organised by CRY and Pratichi in Birbhum last year. Encouraged by the idea and the enthusiastic response from the children, some of them organised a reading festival at Swarupnagar Prathomik Bidyalaya in North 24 Paraganas on 17 May 2013. Members from the Pratichi research team and CRY project team were invited to participate in the festival, which they did with much enthusiasm.

Workshop: Status of Primary Education (Tripura)
The second workshop in Phase 1 of the 5 State project in East India on elementary education will take place at the Institute of Advance Studies in Education, Agartala on 6 December 2012, between 10AM and 1PM. 

Workshop: Status of Primary Education (Mizoram)
The second workshop in Phase 1 of the 5 State project in East India will take place in the Chaltlang Guest House on 23 November 2012. 

Workshop: Community Collaboration in Primary Education
Workshop report
A series of parent-teacher workshops, to facilitate free conversation and exchange of ideas between primary school teachers and members of their school's local communities, were organised as part of Pratichi's monitoring and evaluation project for the Sarva Shiksha Mission in North Bengal. The workshops were based on the RTE directive of community engagement, and also on Pratichi’s own past research experiences – supported by the field study for this project – which show that all public primary schools that function up to or above expectations do so with the active support of its local community. And this is not a one-way flow of benefits. By supporting the school and teachers, the community is really supporting its children, and building children’s capabilities, as we have seen first-hand, expands the capabilities of their parents and families. By imparting good hygiene and consciousness about the dangers of water-borne diseases, for example, we have seen the sanitary habits of an entire village gradually improve, because the children went home and insisted some of the older habits of the family change. Besides, a good relationship between teachers and parents encourages a more organic, and therefore more effective, way of teaching, which is particularly necessary in areas as culturally and linguistically diverse as North Bengal.

Workshop: Right to Education and Child Nutrition (Birbhum, Pratichi-CRY Project)
Workshop Report (PDF)
On 18 February 2012, the Pratichi-CRY team in Birbhum organised a workshop on the implementation of the Right to Education Act (RTE) in the district, and its ramifications for child welfare and child rights. The workshop was attended by teachers from 128 schools from the district, covered under the Pratichi-CRY project, relevant government officials (the District Primary School Council, the school inspector of the Bolpur Sadar West Circle), representatives of teachers’ unions, people from Pratichi, CRY, and other interested entities. The panel was chaired by the Institute’s director, Dr. Manabi Majumdar, and presided over by Amartya Sen, who also released two books at the event: Shishu Shikkhar Bhumika (An Introduction to Elementary Education), and the English translation of Sobai Miley, which is an anthology of local teachers’ experiences and ideas about public primary education in the area.

Workshop: Review of the Syllabus Review Committee
Pratichi, in association with the Vikramshila Education Resource Centre, organised a workshop to facilitate conversation between the Syllabus Review Committee and primary and secondary school teachers in West Bengal. The teachers debated the recommendations of the Committee, and offered several suggestions for greater effectiveness. The attending Committe members -- including the Chairperson, Dr. Abhik Majumdar -- noted several of the suggestions, and promised to consider them at the Committee's next meeting.

Inequality and Education: A Discussion
On the 10 January 2012, Dr. Hine Waitere and Dr. Sita Venkateswar from New Zealand, to discuss inequalities in education across cultures, and particularly those affecting the education of aboriginal or indigenous children. Dr. Waltere and Dr. Venkateswar shared several resources about Maori language and culture, which the team shall seek to reference in its two current projects about the education of minority and marginalised children.

Reading Festival
Report on the Festival pilot
The reading festivals are part of the ongoing Pratichi-CRY project, Documenting New Initiatives in Education in Birbhum. In January 2012, the project organised the pilot for its new primary school-based programme to encourage socialisation, reading, writing, and freedom of expression in children. The success of this pilot has launched the reading festivals as an established ongoing part of the project, and a booklet recounting the experiences and outcomes of the project is due for publication in July 2012.