Vidyashilp Academy, Bengaluru is all set to join the global Fairtrade network in August 2018. As the first Fairtrade School in India, Vidyashilp Academy reinforces its commitment to sustainability and spread awareness among the youth about how food and trade system works and how we can work together to make it fairer. Over the past two years, the school has been actively engaged with the Fairtrade movement and has been working towards making their community more aware about the impact their fair and responsible choices can have on the people and the planet.
Fairtrade is a simple powerful way through which we can make a difference through our everyday choices. Fairtrade India is a not for profit that aims to promote responsible consumption and production in India, by way of eradicating the social and environmental exploitation in our food and fashion supply chains. The Fairtrade network works with many farmers and workers all over the world to ensure they have - access to better prices, fair wages, better soil-water-waste management techniques, training on reducing the use of harmful chemicals and how to deal with climate change. Farmers additionally have access to a Fairtrade Premium for community and economic development projects.
Fairtrade India launched a Fairtrade Pilot School Programme in India in 2014 with the idea of teaching young people that however insurmountable a problem might seem, they can be change makers. We wanted to make the next generation more aware about the farming crisis in India and of the power, we as consumers have to empower the people in our food and fashion supply chains.
A Fairtrade School is at the heart of the global movement for change. The five steps to becoming a Fairtrade School are:
- Forming a steering committee which includes some teachers, students and parent representatives.
- Teaching from the Fairtrade India school kit – A teaching aid which can be easily incorporated in class room learnings.
- Conducting a Fairtrade Assembly.
- Organising an event during the Fairtrade Week campaign in November to take the awareness of Fairtrade to the community.
- Making a commitment to Fairtrade farmers through some form of their everyday consumption.
Vidyashilp Academy has been a Fairtrade Pilot School since 2016 and has been pioneering the Fairtrade School Programme in India. The students of Vidyashilp understand the concept of Fairtrade through classroom teaching and participating in many engaging activities over the years. They are deeply committed to the movement and have organised various events to raise awareness about Fairtrade. The school has supported the Fairtrade initiative on various occasions by organising slogan writing competitions, drawing competitions, tuck shops to sell Fairtrade certified products like TruBio spices, Fairtrade INDPro Footballs and also used the Paper Boat Chikki as an energy bar during its annual sports day.
With an aim to take forward its commitment and become India’s first Fairtrade School, Vidyashilp Academy started sourcing its school uniforms through Fairtrade certified supply chains. The students of Vidyashilp are the first batch of students in India who go to school in uniforms sourced from responsible and ethical supply chains. The farmers in Gujarat from Suminter India Organics Pvt. Ltd who grew the cotton for the uniforms had access to a Fair Price for their produce, the garment factory workers in Mercer Apparels in Tamil Nadu had access to decent working conditions and the students in Bengaluru are going to school in Fairtrade uniforms.
Over the month of August 2018, Vidyashilp is going to be launched as India’s first Fairtrade School. Fairtrade has a huge network of schools all over the world with more than a 1000 registered Fairtrade Schools in just the UK and over 500 Fairtrade Schools in Germany. To celebrate this landmark event in the history of Fairtrade in India, Sarvaiya Pravinkumar Nagajibhai a Fairtrade cotton farmer from Soundarya Farmers Producer Company, Gujarat is coming to Bangalore with his wife and children. The oldest of his three children, Divyaben Pravinbhai has received a scholarship through the Fairtrade Premium to pursue her higher education and has gone ahead and topped her district examination.
Commenting on the historic milestone, Kiran Pai - director, Vidyashilp Academy, “The school collaborates with global partners to further improve intercultural awareness and connects students to a diverse and valued culture. The Fairtrade India collaboration is one such pursuit at weaving ethical values in the school programme. Our students have actively contributed to the learning outcomes from this association and carry a heightened sense of awareness to the cause. Becoming a Fairtrade school is an honor earned for their efforts.”
Abhishek Jani, CEO, Fairtrade India said,“The commitment from Vidyashilp Academy to educate students about sustainability and empowering the farmers and the environment through the Fairtrade movement is historic and hugely inspiring. By fulfilling the requirements of becoming a Fairtrade School VSA is going to create a huge impact on many farmers and workers across the country. We thank and welcome the students, faculty and management of Vidyashilp Academy to the Global Fairtrade Schools movement. With the support from the European Union’s Switch Asia Programme we look forward to increasing the reach of the Fairtrade Schools programme in India and working with more schools across the country to mainstream sustainability and SDG12.”
On August 15, India’s Independence Day, Vidyashilp Academy celebrated its commitment to Fairtrade with Jai Jawan Jai Kisan, a two-day event to launch India’s first Fairtrade School. Several activities are being conducted at Vidyashilp over the next two weeks which includes a display of India’s largest Fairtrade and Organic t-shirt, followed by a student – farmer interaction with Pravinbhai in classrooms. A Fairtrade meal is also being prepared with Fairtrade ingredients for the day of the school launch and many short films are being screened in different classes for children to get a deeper understanding of Fairtrade. For the meal, the school is using Fairtrade TruBio spices from Kerala, rice from Ecolife Uttarkhand, cashews and cinnamon from Fair Trade Alliance Kerala farmers, raisins from APFFNGA Nasik and cumin from RDFC farmer group Gujarat.
On August 27, a series of videos are being launched where Vidyashilp Academy shares with other schools in India the steps to becoming a Fairtrade School. Children in classrooms will be painting Fairtrade cotton patches to stitch onto India’s largest Fairtrade and organic t-shirt.
One of the highlights of the launch is the messages Vidyashilp has received from the global network of Fairtrade schools. Students from Australia, Germany and UK have sent Vidyashilp a message welcoming the school to the Fairtrade family.