NGO takes Bengaluru heritage to classrooms

NGO takes Bengaluru heritage to classrooms

Making sense of history

Students at the RMES School find places in an old map of Bengaluru city as part of an activity organised by Intach. Special arrangement

As humanities take a backseat in schools due to the pressure on children to be part of India’s Silicon Valley, a group of volunteers led by Intach are bringing kids closer to local history to help them appreciate city’s heritage.

“There is more to Bengaluru than its recently acquired tags. Children who study history from textbooks miss out on learning a lot of things surrounding them, especially how valuable their own city is. We try to do that through activity-based learning,” said Aravind Chanramohan, co-convener of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (Intach).

Intach’s Bengaluru chapter convener Meera Iyer said taking the message of heritage to schools was an idea that got a boost after she came in touch with Mantra and Makkala Jagruti, two NGOs working for children’s education.

“We conducted a pilot project for the Government Urdu Primary School in Goripalya, and the positive response made us think of a bigger project. We have planned for eight schools and have started classes in four of them,” she added.

The volunteers, trained by Intach, spend an hour per week with the children of Class 7 and 8. After six weeks of activities in class, children are taken on a field trip where monuments and remains come alive from the stories they have heard.

Pallavi Murthy, an architect who volunteers with Intach, said knowing a place beyond the dynasties that ruled it helps children appreciate their own surroundings.

“In class, we try to tell the people’s history through games, activities like comparing the old map of Pete area with new ones etc. On the field, there are several places, from Begur inscription to the Tipu Palace, that stand as evidence for stories beyond the dynasties,” she said. History may be a contesting ground for some people, but Intach and its volunteers hope that the tangible remnants of various periods in Bengaluru's history will help children develop an idea of a composite and diverse culture.

Salesforce, a social enterprise, which has funded the “six week intervention”, said the idea was to preserve and conserve cultural heritage by sensitising the public about the rich cultural legacy of India.

“In addition to this, Salesforce volunteers will help Intach resource persons lead field trips to historic monuments in Bengaluru that'll provide exposure to the history of the founding growth and evolution of Bengaluru as a city, reinforcing our commitment to India,” a spokesperson said.