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Local connect: Schools in Bengaluru take a trip to city’s past, thanks to INTACH

Free history classes during school hours for seventh and eighth graders focus on the history of the city.

, ET Bureau|
Jul 25, 2019, 08.35 AM IST
Besides attending classes, students also go on field trips to places like the Bangalore Palace.
BENGALURU: Pick up any school history textbook and there will be chapters dedicated to the Independence movement, the battle of Panipat, the World Wars, the Mughal Empire, et al. And how many pages are dedicated to local history? Almost none. Some historians are trying to change this.

The Bengaluru chapter of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) has begun a six-week project to inculcate local history in school children. Free history classes during school hours for seventh and eighth graders will focus on the history of the city. It begins from the 1500s onward, with a mention that there was a settlement even earlier. One of the sessions also focuses on the city’s trees and lakes.

This project was piloted in November last year with just one school on board. It has now expanded to eight more government, aided and low-fee schools. The classes last for about 1.5-2 hours. Apart from lectures, it includes field trips to places like the Bangalore Palace and activities such as drawing, writing, playing word games and solving puzzles, all related to local history. There is also material passed around in class, including old photos and maps.

“I remember attending a quiz competition last year where students from top schools in the city answered questions on China with aplomb but did not know anything about Bengaluru. So, we decided to reach out to children to teach them about Bengaluru,” Meera Iyer, co-convenor, INTACH, said.

While the non-profit routinely takes children from mainstream ICSE, CBSE and IB schools out on heritage walks around the city, they wanted to reach out to children from economically disadvantaged backgrounds.

The syllabus has been developed by INTACH volunteers, including Iyer, who is among the five people who teach at these schools. This project is being funded by, the philanthropist arm of US tech giant Salesforce.

The response has been great so far, Iyer says. “A kid from our pilot programme singled out how we had taken them to the Bengaluru Fort and given them an idea of how it would have felt to be locked up in the dungeons as her most memorable moment.”

Historians and activists have lauded this as a much-needed effort. Founder of Heritage Beku, Priya Chetty Rajagopal, said, “Children will inherit the heritage we enjoy today, but if they are not taught about it, what’s the point?”

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