A lot of people see used plastic as a waste product, but for the students of a Guwahati school, it is no less than gold. For them, used plastic is the means to get free education.
Back in 2013, Mazin Mukhtar and Parmita Sarma met in India for the first time. Apparently, they have one common dream and that is to bring change in the field of education. In 2016, their aspiration led them to build a sustainability-driven free school in the heart of Assam called Akshar.
Initially, Mazin and Parmita came up against a roadblock as most parents were unwilling to send an earning member to study. But they created a curriculum that would fit the financial needs of the families while providing their children with proper education.
“We wanted to start a free school for all, but stumbled upon this idea after we realized a larger social and ecological problem brewing in this area. I still remember how our classrooms would be filled with toxic fumes every time someone in the nearby areas would burn plastics. “
She shared that burning plastics in the area was a normal thing for people to keep themselves warm. Parmita then said that she and Mazin want to change this, which is why they encouraged students “to bring their plastic waste as school fees.”
Akshar was a small school that started off with 20 students now has almost 100 students aged between 4 and 15. These young minds are being taught the importance of education, environmental sustainability and giving back to their community by getting them fully involved in the school’s different activities.
“The idea behind this is to break open the conventional ideas of education. “
In this unique school, students are expected to bring a polythene bag full of about 25 items of plastic waste weekly as a ‘payment’ for their fees. These plastics will then be recycled.
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