Delhi’s new curriculum helps seed business ideas in students

Hundreds of students in classes 11 and 12 of Delhi government schools are currently engaged in developing such projects with the help of their EMC teachers and business coaches
Students of Janki Devi Sarvodaya Kanya Vidyalaya in Delhi present their ideas to the class on Monday. (HT Photo)
Students of Janki Devi Sarvodaya Kanya Vidyalaya in Delhi present their ideas to the class on Monday. (HT Photo)
Updated on Oct 12, 2021 06:32 AM IST
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When Class 12 student Tulika Gupta learnt that several of her women relatives, including her mother, used cloth instead of sanitary napkins, she decided to build a career around the issue of menstrual hygiene. Gupta and seven of her classmates said it was a “dream come true” when they got an opportunity to develop a business model to provide low-cost sanitary napkins to women from marginalised communities.

“We plan to source these napkins from a non-government organisation at lower rates and offer them to women from marginalised communities at minimal profit. The idea is to create awareness among women and young girls so that they switch to sanitary napkins and also learn how to use them,” said Gupta, who studies at Janki Devi Sarvodaya Kanya Vidyalaya in Mayur Vihar Phase 1.

Gupta’s business idea came after the Delhi government announced the Business Blasters programme last month under the entrepreneurship mindset curriculum (EMC). Under this, students of classes 11 and 12 are to receive seed money of 2,000 per student to develop a business idea for profit or to create social impact in their communities.

Gupta, who is part of the team called “silence breakers”, also plans to hold street plays and rallies, and make posters to raise awareness on menstrual hygiene in low-income neighbourhoods such as Chilla Khadar in east Delhi.

Her batchmate Palak plans to use her seed money to develop a no-profit educational camp to apprise students and their parents about the government welfare schemes.

“Not everyone knows how to avail of these schemes. I like working with children and so I decided to set up educational camps for children and their parents which could work as a one-stop centre that imparts relevant information through games and competitions,” she said.

Hundreds of students in classes 11 and 12 of Delhi government schools are currently engaged in developing such projects with the help of their EMC teachers and business coaches. These coaches can be students pursuing their business degrees, or even entrepreneurs/alumni who volunteer to help children with their ideas.

Students are slated to receive the seed money by next week and will begin their market research in the coming days. All projects have to be completed by November 15.

Students can also pool their money by collaborating on a project. Following a presentation on the project, the peer-review model allows their classmates to give their comments on the feasibility of the project.

On Monday, several such student groups presented their ideas to classmates including Shivya Antwadia, another Class 12 student at the school, who is working on a business model to market “air purifying plants” ahead of the winter pollution in Delhi.

“The product has been designed keeping in mind the environmental concerns of our times. We will recycle broken mugs and plastic bottles for plants and mount them on a circular discs with a rotating motor beneath them. We have also been working on a drip irrigation system so that our consumers would just have to flick a switch and not worry about taking care of plants. There is a huge market for such plants,” she said.

When asked by fellow students why someone would buy plants from them instead of the market, Antwadia said, “The USP of our product would be the decorative features we will add. We also plan to use decorative lights so that people can put these pots in their living rooms.” The five-member group will invest 50% of their seed money initially and later expand the project based on responses from customers.

Another group – Cookie Monsters – will be working on developing healthier alternatives to biscuits with their motto “health with taste.” Team leader Jayati Chaudhary said they would focus on preparing their biscuits with macronutrients after a thorough market study, conducted via various bakeries in their neighbourhood.

“Along with fruit cookies, we will develop moulds of superhero and cartoon characters to cater to the younger consumers. Our mothers have also offered help us with our projects. However, my father was initially sceptical about involving ourselves in this project when our board examinations are only a month away,” said Chaudhary, who is set to appear for her pre-board exams later this month.

Several students said their parents were concerned that the Delhi government announced the Business Blasters programme barely two months before their board examinations. This year, CBSE introduced a two-term board examination with a revised paper pattern for class 10 and 12 students slated to begin in November.

Ajay Veer Yadav, general secretary of government school teachers’ association (GSTA), also criticised the decision to implement the project at the last minute.

“Covid-19 has already affected classes. In addition to that, there are several initiatives including this Business Blasters programme which extend beyond the school. Teachers should be allowed to hold remedial classes and prepare students for the new pattern of board examination involving objective type questions instead of engaging in these initiatives,” he said.

However, Ashok Tiwari, a mentor teacher engaged in EMC classes, said these classes allow students to de-stress. “There was no other slot in the academic cycle to implement this. But children are excited about the project as they don’t have to study all the time. This initiative would allow them to take a break from studies and all engagements with the project will come to an end by November 15.”

EMC coordinator Nivedita Kohli, who teaches Science at the Mayur Vihar school to class 9 and 10 students, also said the EMC classes have been helping students connect with their peers. “Socio-emotional learning had been hit by the prolonged closure of schools. With these activities, students are getting excited and more focused, which help in their academics as well.”

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Tuesday, October 19, 2021