Promoting Social Justice and Advocacy in Edmund Rice Indian Schools

The Social Justice and Advocacy programme in the schools in the Indian Province was initiated almost a decade ago. While many of the animators have been working for over 5 years, there are also some who have recently joined. The group has a broad understanding of justice but a need was felt to develop the skills for advocacy while also embedding justice into our lives and schools. It was with this purpose that 29 Social Justice Animators from 13 schools of the Edmund Rice network in India, met for their Annual Residential Training Programme in New Delhi, between the 21st and 23rd of April, 2023, since the pandemic. The specific objectives of the training were –

  • To strengthen the perspective and mindset of justice in the animators 
  • To equip animators with the skills needed for advocacy 
  • To plan the year ahead with elements of awareness, action and advocacy 
  • To strengthen the group with renewed commitment and energy

While meditative practices and sharing circles helped us start and end our days, we also had some experiential tools on the first two days, for deeper learning. These are outlined below –

  • Walking meditation – Walking mindfully, slowly, gently and respectfully while connecting with the earth and feeling grounded.
  • Tai Chi – An ancient Chinese practice that involves a series of slow gentle movements, physical postures and controlled breathing.
  • Culture Coffee – Snacks brought by the animators from their own region or community and shared during the tea and coffee breaks. Significance and stories shared led to many conversations while also making us aware of the diversity in our own group and in our nation. The cultural evening also helped strengthen our collective identity and bond.
  • Power Walk – Exploring positions of individuals from marginalized communities, broader social patterns of intersectionality through an experiential activity, dialogue and research.
  • Immersive Walk to Connaught Place (a market place in Central Delhi) – Walking, observing and assessing public places from the lens and principles of justice using guiding questions followed by a reflective discussion in a park.
  • Research project – Choose an aspect of climate justice to study within your own school community, design a short survey form, collect, collate and analyse the data to make some recommendations.
  • Meeting with Child Advocates from Pratyek – After a short Circus Arts performance used by the young advocates to interact with different stakeholders, we interacted with 5 young advocates who shared their journey, its challenges and their own convictions.

The last day focussed on reviewing and strengthening the action plan for each school. New elements of the programme strengthening awareness, action and advocacy work in the schools were specifically looked at. These included the Laudato Si, the Edmund Rice Ambassador programme and the Annual Edmund Rice Justice Meet – which is aiming to take the students’ voices to the G20 thematic engagement groups.

After three packed, intense and high-energy days, everyone returned to their schools inspired, emotionally strengthened and better equipped with understanding and skills to drive the work of embedding justice into our curriculum so that every member of our school communities is able to identify injustice when they see it, question it, try to understand it better and advocate for change.

Voices of the Animators

“The three days went off in a blink and left us asking for more. I must appreciate the way it was conducted so smoothly. From food to talks to walks, every moment was filled with a lot of learning.”

“I’m more focused, more aligned with what is expected of me and how to work in collaboration and togetherness to bring about some change where I go and with the ones I’m associated with, right from my family, school, society I live in.”

“These past few days have helped me to see and understand things that I wasn’t aware of personally and around me. We are taking our first step, it’s scary and may be difficult too but the first step indicates and signifies change. Change towards a better world!”

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