The workings of a parliament are no longer something the pupils of a Sharjah school just read about in their textbooks.
The children are getting hands-on experience by running a democratically elected school parliament — with a student prime minister at the helm, alongside a student opposition leader and a council of student ministers.
The Our Own English High School witnessed their first school parliament members elected by over 6,000 children take oath on Thursday.
"The school parliament comprises 64 members, all of whom were elected by children from grades 1 to 7. Sixteen ministers handle different portfolios such as cleanliness, safety, transport and so on," Dr Aninda Chatterji, school principal, told Gulf News.
Students of grades 8 to 12 have traditionally been part of student governing bodies, so the school parliament was planned to include the children of lower classes in the running of the school.
"Running of the school parliament helps ingrain values of democracy in pupils, alongside imparting leadership skills," he said.
The four houses of the schools acted like political parties. The two houses from which the candidates got the maximum number of votes formed the government, while candidates of the other two houses formed the opposition. Any proposals will be debated and then voted on before being passed as a bill and presented to the school management.
The foundation of the parliament lies in a written constitution, which resembles the Indian constitution but with terms rephrased to reflect the needs of the school. "The idea is to allow children to play an active role in the way the school functions and make relevant decisions," he said.
Amrita Anil Pillai, a seventh grader who holds the title of the student prime minister, said that the whole process has increased her confidence tremendously. "I feel I can make a difference and make changes that will help others."
Asked about some of the issues that she hopes to resolve, she said that there is consensus among students on the need to increase availability of healthy food options at the school canteen and also lower prices.
From / Gulf News