A Picture Is Worth 1000 Words – Imagine 10,000 of Those!

A Picture Is Worth 1000 Words – Imagine 10,000 of Those!

Picture this: You have been given the task of conducting a painting competition, covering 180+ schools and 10,000+ children across a Taluk. You are in charge of ensuring there is ample communication in the run up to the day of the competition and, all the material for painting needs to be in place, ahead of time, in all of the 181 schools. Sounds arduous, doesn’t it? The Multi-Dimensional Learning Space team in Gubbi Taluk of Tumakuru district pulled off exactly this grand task and with much finesse. Here is how…

The ‘Effort Scale’ Throws a Lot of Challenges Our Way

If you think about this from a logistics and event management perspective, you’d agree the scale is massive. For someone working outside the school system, this would mean organizing 400+ volunteers- averaging at 3 (approx) per school, transporting them from Bangalore to Gubbi Taluk (about 100 Km NW) and not just to the taluk HQ but to each school spread across the taluk!

This was exactly the challenge we were faced with two weeks back, when we decided to conduct this massive event in Gubbi as part of our MDLS programme. The MDLS programme is being implemented across all Higher Primary and High Schools of Gubbi Taluk.  You can find out more about what the MDLS programme stands for here and our past work here. You can also find a presentation about this project here.

The Gold Handshake from Block Education Department (BED), Gubbi

While we have been working in this Taluk for last few years in a small way, this is our first year of Taluk wide implementation of MDLS. We are working with the Block Level Education Department of Gubbi Taluk to implement this project (Gubbi Taluk/Block is a collection of about 316 villages).

The first step of the project was to announce the event in all the schools. Gubbi has 181 Government and Government aided Higher Primary and High schools. 12 of our facilitators, who we call Motivators, split 181 schools amongst themselves. Gubbi staff members visited each school over two days. In each school, they announced the event in every classroom and they also made a list of all the students who shall participate.

Many Trying Times Payoff, 10,167 Children Register to Paint

Typically, the children are shy and need a little nudge to get them to sign up and participate. Gubbi Staff members also checked with the kids if they would colour using crayons or water colours. We needed this information to plan our supply and logistics. At the end of two days, we had 10,167 students register for the event! This scale was exciting!

The Experience Ends Up Humbling Us In Turn

The next step was to delegate ownership of conducting this event to a teacher in that school. We could never be able to rope in enough volunteers/staff members to be present in all participating schools, at the same time watching over the proceedings. Even if we had roped in volunteers, it would have been a logistics nightmare and an expensive nightmare at that. We needed the teachers support here with the help of few volunteers. Truth be told, it was overwhelming and humbling to see the support we got. We had 180+ teachers who took up the responsibility voluntarily!

With the teachers taking the onus of on-ground execution off our shoulders, next came procurement. Since we had conducted painting competitions in a small way in the previous years, we knew what products to buy and where. 

Each child got a drawing sheet and four kids shared either a crayon set or a box of water colours. This way we minimized wastage by maximizing the use of painting material. From our previous years’ experience at the painting competition, we knew the children were more than happy to share their art supplies. So, just 3 days before the event, we went out and procured 12,000 drawing sheets, and 2500 black sketch pens, boxes of water colours, and wax crayon sets, each.

While we had 10000+ children registered, based on our experience, we knew that more kids will want to jump in once they see their friends paint. So, we worked in a buffer into everything we ordered. Our 12 Motivators did a splendid job of managing the last-mile logistics, getting all the supplies distributed in time and explaining the process to the teachers.

Have You Ever Experienced Such a Situation In Your Own Life?

On the morning of of competition day, all that the team of 4 volunteers from Bangalore had to do was to visit the schools, thank teachers for helping us out and look at the surging creativity of these kids. It was extraordinary to watch what kids can do when given a free hand to create something. By the end of the day, the teachers had gathered all the paintings from their schools, segregated them by grades of the students, collected all the remaining painting materials and handed it over to us.

Now picture this again - conducting a painting competition, covering 10,000+ children across all schools of a Taluk doesn’t seem so arduous, does it? It can be a piece of cake if you are working with the system.

Finally, it is not about which painting is technically strong and which is not, creativity is relative. This was about those two hours a child spent expressing what he or she imagines and envisions.

We executed the whole event with just a 14 member team in less than 4 days of end-to-end activities. And we managed to do this at a cost of Rs 4.50 per child, spent on a drawing sheet, a sketch pen for outline, set of crayons, and box of water colours for colouring. It was an incredible experience to see this in action and we can’t wait to see every school in Karnataka become a Multi-Dimensional Learning Space.

What Did I Learn? - While The Scale You Get By Working With The System Is Intuitive, It Is Humbling To Experience It!

What next?

We are splitting the paintings into three categories.

  • Category 1 – Paintings from 5th and 6th standard
  • Category 2 – Paintings from 7th and 8th standard
  • Category 3 – Paintings from 9th and 10th standard

We Are Setting a Hopeful Gaze at the Future

By working along with professional artists, we plan to pick the best two paintings from each school in each category. We will then conduct one more competition among these children by giving them a specific topic to paint on. We will then choose top five from each category across the taluk.

The idea of choosing the top 5 from each category is beyond recognition through prizes. We want to first of all enhance the skill of these talented children by engaging the right volunteers. We also want to understand if their interest in painting is beyond hobby. We understand that unlike traditional careers, opportunities in art are fewer, but if the child has the skill and is really interested, then it is important to encourage the child to make the right choice.

We are very serious about career guidance and we do a bunch of activities around it, but that is a topic for another blog.