Kalpanadham, a Hindi term that literally means ‘abode of imagination’ in English, proved to be a revolutionary idea for the students of ‘Gram Vikas Residential School, Kankia’ situated in Ganjam district of Odisha. The idea first struck in the mind of Shalini Krishnan, the then SBI Youth for India fellow working with this School under the 13 months long rural fellowship program. She had left a highly paid job to join this fellowship program and consequently landed up in this School in Odisha. She had a work experience of around 7 years in some of the top multinational companies.
Upon arrival, she realized after confabulating with the students that they are extremely intelligent minds in terms of artistic potential but devoid of any meaningful platform and relevant opportunity to express their talent and artistic potential. Thus, she decided to establish ‘Kalpanadham’, a place and platform inside the School premises where the students could come and imagine freely, could experiment their imaginations, could draw the image of what came to their minds, could do paintings of their choice, could perform arts like theatre, singing and dancing. In the crux, it started as a place to provide a platform to the students to actualize their imaginations. Shalini designed a learning framework based on the principal of ‘IEA-Imagine, Experiment and Act’.
This establishment of ‘Kalpanadham’ became a massive hit among the students. For students, this was a place where they could think something differently, where they could do something differently, where they could think freely, where they had freedom to profess their passion, where they had no worry of listening to classroom lectures of their teachers, where only their passions prevailed. It was in a way ‘liberty zone’ for them.
After its establishment, it started showing its positive outcomes. Many students started participating in different artistic competitions on district, state and national level and consequently won many accolades as well. The ‘Kalpanadham’ still continues the same way. It is still the favorite spot of children inside the School precincts. The children still celebrates this idea.
For me, ‘Kalpanadham’ apart from a place of cultivating artistic potential of the children, is also a place that has nurtured one of the most important Constitutional values in the students – the freedom of expression. It is one of the most important Constitutional rights of every citizen. In my opinion, a place like ‘Kalpanadham’ is an important Constitutional right for every student of this Country.
There must be a place in the realm of study where the students can express themselves freely. It must be a part of the right to education of the Children. After all, the entire purpose of one’s study is to learn to express through different modes. One studies to lean to express, so how can one be kept devoid of opportunities and platforms to express oneself freely. In my opinion, ‘Kalpanadham’ is one of the most fundamental educational rights of every student of this Country.
If the Government can come up with concept like ‘Atal Innovate Mission’ to nurture innovative spirits in Children, then why it can’t come up with the concept like ‘Kalpanadham’ to foster free thinking in the students, to give them the space to imagine and actualize it that unfortunately gets imprisoned in the current educational framework of the Country? After all, the idea of ‘free expression’ is one of the most cherished Constitutional principles. In my opinion, the establishment of ‘Kalpanadham’ in ‘Gram Vikas Residential School, Kankia’ is much ahead of its time. It must be celebrated and it must be replicated at other places too