A young voice against superstition, corporal punishment


Two short movies made by Samuel Venkatesan, who hails from a remote village in Krishnagiri district in Tamil Nadu and who had just returned to India after attending a key UNICEF summit in Italy, focus on combating superstition and raising awareness against corporal punishment in schools.

Venkatesan was one of the three Indians at the Junior-8 (J8) summit earlier this month, where youngsters from nations attending the G-8 meet discussed burning present-day issues.

The energetic and vivacious teenager feels improving the education system should be the priority area for India and when a local NGO trained him in film making, the subjects he chose for his works also echoed his views.

One of his films dealt with corporal punishment. "I felt that beating up a student is not the way. The problems can be solved by teachers through dialogue," he says.

The class XII student, the first in his village to complete secondary education, was also perturbed about a local superstition about presence of 'ghosts' in a nearby jungle - crossing which was necessary to reach a school. So, his other film went on to bust the myth.

Venkatesan wants to go film studies in future, but his immediate plan is something else. "I want to form school-based monitoring groups, which will then be spread all over India to raise demands of children before the government," he says.

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