It is a big day for Saumya Tripathi. As students start queuing outside the polling booth at her school, she is anxious about what the day holds for her. Saumya, 17, is one of the five candidates for the post of head girl at KDB Public School in Kavi Nagar.
In order to teach the students the importance of electoral process, KDB Public School organises elections for the post of head boy and head girl every year.
“These elections mirror real-life elections which these students will have to face when they turn adults. We have an election commissioner, a media group as well as proper ballot system complete with indelible ink to mark on the finger to make the event realistic,” said Nivedita Rana, school principal.
Students of class 12 start filing their nominations in May after which teachers shortlist them. These shortlisted students are interviewed and candidates are announced for the two positions. The following two months are marked by extensive campaigning.
“Each candidate designs their logo to be put against their name on the ballot paper. They have to explain its significance with respect to their agenda as well. Candidates put up their manifestos on the notice boards. There are no academic prerequisites in selecting the candidates, the only quality needed is leadership,” said Ranjana Aggarwal, teacher and election coordinator.
The agenda of candidates range from better canteen food to putting up complaint boxes to address students’ grievances. Students from class 6-12 are eligible to vote.
While the election commissioner takes care that rules are followed during canvassing, the media group writes news articles and opinion pieces about the polls in the school’s fortnightly newspaper.
“I made speeches in each class from 6-12 to publicize my agenda that include improved dispersal process, including more co-curricular activities and improving the canteen menu,” said Pranav Agarwal, a candidate for head boy and a class 12 student.
This innovative way of teaching students about elections was started last year.
“It is sad to see that the voting turnout in the country is merely 50%. By conducting elections in the school, children are made aware of the importance of the process and the significance of each vote. This way, when they become adults, they will have an experience in choosing their leaders,” Rana said.