Even as schools in Mumbai incorporate rigorous academics in their curriculum, performing arts like drama and street plays are slowly becoming a daily activity in several institutions.
However, some schools are taking up these activities in collaboration with non-profit groups, to encourage students to analyse social issues more closely and reach out to the needy.
On Sunday, students of Oberoi International School (OIS), Goregaon, organised a theatre festival to fund underprivileged dancers across the country. The school had tied up with the Going Home Project (GHP), an initiative by the Danceworx Theatre Society.
“We wanted to do our bit for people who are not able to pursue their dreams because of financial constraints. For this, we chose dance and drama as a medium,” said Vijita Kamath, a Class 12 student.
Students worked as directors, actors, stage managers and costume designers to raise funds for dancers. “Student-led activities encourage them to be socially responsible. Such lessons can’t be taught in classrooms,” said Vladimir Kuskovski, principal, OIS.
Similarly, JBCN international School, Parel, has tied up with several NGOs to make students aware about social issues.
Fatima Agarkar, managing trustee, JBCN group, said: “We have hired theatre professionals to train the children. Through dramas and street plays, students raise issues such as overuse of social media, recycling waste, among others. They have also organised street plays for leprosy and children under rehabilitation.”
Some schools have gone a step further and appointed full-time drama and dance teachers.
At Gundecha Education Academy, Kandivli, dramatics is a compulsory subject for students of Classes 1 to 4. Every month, children perform street plays on issues such as Aids awareness, climate change, plastic usage to spread awareness in nearby societies and slums.
The school organises an inter-school drama competition annually to encourage more such socially aware plays. “We have a subject called Socially Useful Productive Work, which includes several activities such as drama and poetry recital. Socially relevant topics are chosen so that they become responsible citizens,” said Padmaja Vaidya, activities coordinator.
Students of Singapore International School, Dahisar, also take the help of street plays to put their point across.
Every two months, students from Classes 8 to 10 perform plays at housing societies and public places near the school on issues such as anti-spitting, female foeticide, among others. During festivals, they visit pandals to sensitise them about noise pollution.
Children’s Academy at Malad has tied up with NGO Salaam Mumbai. “Last year, our students performed at Kala Ghoda on anti-addiction,” said Pramod Shelar, drama instructor.
Tanish Mehta, a Class 9 student, said: “We juggle our studies with these activities, and get to learn a lot.”
Experts feel it is important that children are aware about social issues. Dr Harish Shetty, a psychiatrist, said, “Such activities help the overall development of students and make them more confident.”