New Delhi: Schools in Delhi and NCR are planning to conduct electoral literacy campaigns ahead of the upcoming Lok Sabha elections to help students become "electoral ambassadors" and encourage people to vote. With the new academic session set to begin, the focus of the campaign will be to enlighten students about the importance of vote, to train them in the electoral process and encourage them to ensure the adults around them exercise their franchise.
The campaign will run through the month of April. "We have planned a series of activities to make students understand the value of their vote and the need to exercise their suffrage in a confident, comfortable and ethical manner so that when they pass out from school and enrol themselves as first time voters they are enlightened enough about the process," said Seema Trikha, Principal, Vasant Global School in Noida.
She said the students will also be encouraged to act as electoral ambassadors in their respective neighbourhoods or nearby slums where they can impart the knowledge gained by them at school. The sessions will begin from April. A senior official of the Directorate of Education (DoE) said, the electoral literacy clubs which has teachers with election duty experience will help students understand the constitutional, legislative and legal provisions, technological innovation besides the role of the Election Commission, courts, media and other stakeholders in the poll process.
Shiv Nadar school in Gurgaon and Noida have scheduled mock elections for the students next month and are also advancing the teaching of the chapters on legislature elections to time it with the Lok Sabha polls.
"We will be planning mock elections for the students to give them an idea about how the entire set up works. There will be screening of certain videos related to the poll process to help students understand the functioning of the democratic set up and importance of exercising votes.
"Usually, the chapters about legislature elections which are already part of curriculum are taught around September but we have decided to advance it this time since students will be able to understand it better as elections are around the corner," said Dr Smriti Sabbarwal, teaching faculty, Shiv Nadar School Gurugram.
Similar activities are being planned across Amity International Schools in Delhi-NCR.
"Mock elections is an activity which we do before every elections. Students form their own parties, file nominations, release manifestos, campaign and caste votes. "The issues related to the elections are school centric. This gives the students an idea about the entire functioning of the process," said said Amita Mohan, Principal, Amity International School, Pushp Vihar..
Mohan said her school also conduct campaigns to encourage students to ensure that every adult in their family has a voter card and they go out to vote. "Familiarising students with Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) and Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) are other activities involved in teaching students about the electoral process," said Mohan.
Electoral Literacy Clubs (ELCs) are envisioned by the Election Commission of India as extra-curricular platforms in schools that sensitize students from Class IX to XII on their electoral rights and familiarises them with the electoral process of registration and voting.
"ELCs engage with the students through interesting activities, games and hands on experience. ELC Resource Guides have been developed specific to each grade for the benefit of club conveners or teachers.
"These Resource Guides describe the conduct of the simple activities in a detailed, step by step manner. The self-explanatory format of these resource guides enable conveners to independently organize ELCs," a senior official of the National Council for Educational Research and Training (NCERT) said.
"Additionally, a detailed handbook on FAQs related to election related information is also available in the resources. "ELC's were born out of the Election Commission's project 'Mainstreaming of Electoral Literacy through Educational Institutions, Organizations and Communities in India' which aims to impart civic education to the younger generation for encouraging robust electoral participation," the official added.
The Lok Sabha elections will be conducted in seven phases in April-May, beginning from April 11. The elections will be held for 543 seats on nearly 10 lakh polling booths across the country, while the counting of votes will take place on May 23.