Education is meant to liberate and not box us into preconceived ideas. Meet Kiran Sethi an award winning educator whose school in Ahmedabad is ‘designing change’ through teaching. She is striving to bridge the gap between the genders through her school and her global movement “Design for Change.”

Being a student of The Riverside School, I can surely say that Kiran Ma’am has done her level best to empower all of us in every way possible. Be it conducting workshops or playing sports, she has constantly made sure that gender doesn’t limit a person.

SheThePeople.TV interviewed her with respect to education and its linkage with gender equality.

What are the few traits you believe a girl should have when she finally graduates out of Riverside?

“According to me, I believe that every girl should be fierce, confident, competent, skilled and open-minded. I also believe that every child should be financially independent. One should not rely on any one in life, when it comes to money.”

“That gender shouldn’t shape ones story. I believe in the idea of ‘humanism’, people need to learn to become more humane. Another thing that I believe in is that everyone should start practicing and do things by ‘design and not by chance.’”

Kiran Sethi initiated Design For Change (DFC) in 2007, and since then it has reached over 60 countries. The central goal of this is to help children believe that “they can” and that no one can stop them from bringing change.

Kiran Sethi - I Can. Credit - Riverside School
Kiran Sethi – I Can. Credit – Riverside School

 

We know that through DFC, you have reached several girls who have been able to change mind-sets and bring a change to their lives. What is that one story that has impacted you and you would like to share with us?

“We heard this story of some girls in Rajasthan. They were cat-called everyday on their way to school. After an incident where the men crossed limits, these girls decided to learn self-defence. After training for a while, the next time these guys whistled at them, they went and beat them up. This story shows how girls can empower themselves; they don’t need anyone to lift them up, except themselves.”

This story exemplifies how strong and courageous girls can be. There is no stopping, once a person becomes headstrong and determined to bring about a change in their own lives and the lives of people that matter to them. 

In what ways do you bring your view on gender equality in your school?

“In school, I always make it a point to tell everyone that one should not get any advantage or disadvantage in their lives because of one’s gender. Everything should be dependent on their merit and hard-work. This is an idea I tell not only you students, but also my teaching team.”

Ms Sethi always makes it a point to be unbiased and helps her faculty members to also make sure that everyone is equal. She believes that small steps can cause a change. After all Design For Change started as a small movement, and now is impacting so many children.

Kiran Sethi
Kiran Sethi – Day 1 at Riverside School. Credit – Instagram

 

What is that one anecdote or challenge that you most strongly remember with respect to gender equality in school?

“During the inception of the school, a father of two had admitted only his son in school. I had repeatedly tried to get him to enroll his daughter as well, but he was adamant. I even spoke to the mother, but she had no say in the matter. After almost three years of convincing, he finally allowed his daughter to go to school. I was on cloud nine, I went and gave him a hug.”

“I have always had the belief that if ‘one has a voice, one should exercise it! I constantly push my students to take up causes so as to fight for what they believe in, to make a change.”

She went on to share that she has interacted and tried to impact not only teachers and students but mothers as well. “Only when mothers feel empowered, will they try to empower their children,” she says.

What is that mantra that you believe in?

“I have always had the belief that if  one has a voice, one should exercise it! I constantly push my students to take up causes so as to fight for what they believe in, to make a change.”

“Today, I am so proud that I was able to help students raise their voices. Several times, my alumni come to me and thank me for instilling the belief that everyone is equal, as because of this belief, they are able to raise a voice in whichever collage they are.

What is that one thing you would like to tell us students?

“I keep on telling you guys every year that I want to graduate a batch of not students, but citizen leaders, as that is what makes the difference.”

“I constantly try to help people around me become more self-aware. Once that is in control, a person’s capability, competency and capacity increase in whichever field or career they are in”

What is the one thing you would like to tell the world?

“That gender shouldn’t shape ones story. I believe in the idea of ‘humanism’, people need to learn to become more humane. Another thing that I believe in is that everyone should start practicing and do things by ‘design and not by chance.’”

There is no stopping, once a person becomes headstrong and determined to bring about a change in their own lives and the lives of people that matter to them. 

Kiran Sethi has given many talks regarding how she tries to empower people around her, and one can surely say that she is definitely super inspirational. Her journey still continues as her dreams for Design For Change are transforming into reality. Riverside School still continues to be a hub for creativity, change and inspiration, as Kiran Sethi, in her own way impacts every child, teacher and even the support staff.

Read also:  Why Sex Education In Schools Is The Need Of The Hour

Kavya Shah is an intern with SheThePeople.TV

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