As part of FICA Art Educator’s Forum initiative, we organised a workshop that explores the need for discovering and listening to children’s voices, as well as collaboratively discovering creative practices that enable this to build connections in community spaces. Using existing resources and materials, the workshop hoped to work towards developing collective inquiry based, process oriented and trans-disciplinary methodologies in art education fostering socio-cultural dialogue; create a stronger role for artist educators and encourage meaningful practices around arts in education in distinct set ups.  

The seminar was planned in collaboration with CFAR and the work they are carrying out in five settlements in East and North East Delhi around the issue of Right to Education.  Promoting and fostering a series of interfaces and interlinkages, CFAR’s work in the bastis involves understanding the concerns raised by parents and students alike with regard to the schools and a detailed assessment of schools to understand their implementation status of RTE act. With interactive sessions held by Samina Mishra and Nilanjana Nandy and presentations by RTE activist Ambarish Rai and CFAR team members, the workshop participants were given a space to think about the role of art education in overcoming barriers and encouraging creative and divergent thinking among children. It aimed to provide a space to art educators to discuss and design art education modules that further potential of young community voices using artistic means.  They discussed the role of an art educator and how she/he can generate a programme listening to the conditions, explorations and potentials on the ground.  They explored the space of art for children as a means of self-expression as well as one of finding resonance and belonging.  The workshop culminated in a durational engagement with the children from Sunlight Colony, Dilshad Garden.  Linking to fundamental issues of education, the workshop was based on the premise that children need to be included in education to foster a better understanding of the world. It gives us the opportunity to contextualize and explore the potential of the work we do as art educators in relation larger political question children’s Right to Education, while building a chain of support between different organizations and individuals on the ground.

About Facilitators:
Over the years Samina Mishra has conducted workshops with primary level children living in slums, in association with Pratham, aimed at generating writing from the children about their lives and their world. She has also conducted workshops with students from several Delhi schools on issues of identity and belonging, as part of the Home and Away exhibition. She has also done short filmmaking workshops with children, focusing on visual storytelling skills. She collaborated with Sherna Dastur on a writing and art workshop with children from Okhla that led to the book My Sweet Home: Childhood Stories from a Corner of the City (Mapin/2017). She is currently teaching the International Baccalaureate Film programme at Pathways School Noida and collaborating on Torchlight, a web journal on libraries and bookish love. 

Nilanjana Nandy is a visual artist and educator with over a decade of experience in teaching and working with students. Nandy graduated with a MFA in Painting from MSU Baroda, and has carried forward the critical approach that the school is known for through her own work. She believes in using art education to create points of deliberation, make connections and generate enthusiasm, in order to help children learn through exploration, play and processes. She has worked with several schools in Delhi and NCR including St. Mary's, BTWS, Suncity World School; conducted workshops at Sriram School, IILM Institute; worked as visiting faculty at College of Art, Delhi and Sushant School of Art and Architecture and currently takes Sunday Art Classes at NGMA, New Delhi as part of their outreach. In her own artistic career she is deeply involved in developing projects with children.

Ambarish Rai is the National convener of Right to Education (RTE) Forum since 2010. “RTE Forum” has emerged as a larger civil society coalition in India consisting ten thousand grass-root organizations, prominent educationists and Networks/Activists working on education with the intent of bringing equitable and quality education to all children. This Forum is advocating RTE Act, 2009, to be implemented at the ground level so that public system of education could be strengthened.

The Centre for Advocacy and Research (CFAR), headquartered in Delhi is a non-political, non-religious and non‐profit organization registered as a Charitable Public Trust, in January 1998. CFAR is committed to advancing the rights of marginal communities such as sex workers, urban poor, girl child, unorganized workers, transgender persons and sexual minorities, single women, People Living with HIV, people who inject drugs (PWID) and people living with disabilities.  Being a Public interest research and advocacy group committed to creating spaces in the community, in decision-making nodes and in the media for dialogue on issues concerning civil society; the overarching goal is to influence public opinion and policies concerning issues of different marginalized communities from a gender and development perspective.   CFAR’s approach is best defined as striving to work towards and build the necessary synergy between communities, concerned stakeholders, the media and civil society through collaborative processes, advocacy and capacity building at various levels. 

FICA Art Educator Forum is a platform for educators and artists for collective thinking about art education in India, particularly at how art can be used for education in Indian schools and also in projects engaged with communities.  Working on two questions around how children learn about art and learn with art, the Forum is a space where a core group of educators, who engaged with their own individual projects, participate in the process of ‘thinking together’ about ideas on art education curriculum in Indian schools, the cognitive and emotional impact of learning using methods which diverge from bookish rote learning, and look at how can we evaluate the value of art education. To facilitate this FICA holds workshops and invite special guests to engage with the group and address key issues around the need for and challenges of art education. It is essentially a space for a community of artists/artist-educators/teachers to learn via sharing.