About Jigyasa Labroo and Arts-in-Education
Facts state that more than 444 million children in India belong to lesser privileged backgrounds or weaker sections of society and are not mentally and emotionally strong enough to speak out or share their problems as engaging opportunities are not available at the right age or in comfortable circumstances.
India ranks 99th in the Global Creativity Index of 139 nations which itself suggests that there is a gap between the skill sets provided to these children to succeed in life.
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Art is known to be one of the most creative forms of communication and expression. It allows people to tell stories and spark conversations through art. Unfortunately, our education system has, over time, discouraged young students and creative minds from taking up arts. Increasing academic pressures to join the rat race, have side-lined arts and crafts as a subject.
Teach for India alumni Jigyasa Labroo and Gaurav Singh took this issue up strongly and are now bringing arts into education in under-served schools so that these children can find their voice.
In 2017, they initiated a Delhi-based Ngo called- ‘Slam Out Loud’ -SOL, to provide access to artistic opportunities and art-based learning to individuals who face socio-economic, physical, or emotional barriers to exploring arts.
Some important research findings state that children who received art education showed an 80% increase in creativity and levels of social skills and also had higher grade point averages and were five times more likely to graduate compared to their peers.
Jigyasa says,” Our work has taught us that the addition of art into education has a profound effect on children’s learning because art “doesn’t have ONLY one answer. Instead, it provides children a space where their ideas, feelings, and identity are accepted as they are”
SOL’s online programs and curriculum have reached more than 5 million children across 19 countries and in-person programs impact over 50000 children in India, mostly dealing with the age group- 9-16.
The primary objective of Slam Out Loud was to facilitate a future where children, no matter who they are or where they come from, have the opportunity to find their voice. By leveraging the power of art forms like storytelling, poetry, visual art, and theater, they work towards fostering ‘creative confidence’ skills such as communication, empathy, collaboration, and self-esteem in children from vulnerable communities.
With this clear mission in our mind, they started two projects with separate objectives.
The Jijivisha Fellowship:
The Jijivisha Fellowship is a full-time, year-long, paid fellowship program run by Slam Out Loud. Fellows are placed as socio-emotional learning (SEL) facilitators in low-income private schools in India. The Fellows inculcate Creative Confidence skills in children, a combination of Socio-Emotional Learning (SEL) and 21st-century skills by leveraging art forms such as poetry, visual art, storytelling, and theater.
The year-long fellowship cycle ends with platforming opportunities (open mics, performances, exhibitions), designed to enable students to showcase their creativity and learnings.
So far, they have taken The Jijivisha Fellowship to more than 10,500+ children, and 150+ fellows, working across Delhi NCR and Pune. 75% of the students have grown at least 1 level on SOL’s Creative Confidence scale. In 2023-24 they are expanding the fellowship to Mumbai and Bengaluru.
Arts For All:
This is the at-scale program that involves teachers and facilitator training to implement their curriculum, in partnership with the state governments and NGOs. Like the Jijivisha Fellowship, the Arts For All program aims to inculcate 6 life skills to build awareness of gender inequality and climate change through art in students from disadvantaged communities.
a. Arts-based SEL Teacher
The arts-based SEL teacher-training program involves training government school teachers to implement the curriculum built by them. This program utilizes the weekly art classes in government schools to bring arts-based socio-emotional learning with gender and climate-action elements to the classrooms.
In September (2022) they piloted this program under the name
Project Avaza in partnership with the Punjab Government. For the ongoing program, we trained 100 government school teachers who are conducting sessions with their students, reaching 3,000 children.
In 2023-24 we will be launching pilots of this program in the states of Haryana and Maharashtra.
b. Meri Awaaz (My Voice)
Meri Awaaz aims to build greater awareness of prevalent gender stereotypes by working with facilitators to engage adolescents to reflect on their biases. In collaboration with Girl Rising, Slam Out Loud has developed 15+ hours of arts-based activities that promote social and emotional well-being and raise awareness of gender inequality.
They provide training, lesson plans, and a facilitator guide to facilitators at their partner organizations to enable them to conduct 8 1-hour sessions over a period of 4 months with children aged 9 to 16.
Through Meri Awaaz, they have impacted 51,255 children by working with 11 implementation partners across 7 Indian states.
The Impact of this program spread far and wide and translated into three interrelated changes that have been observed in students who have consistently been exposed to artistic opportunities and experiences:
1. Learning to Grow and Stretch as Artists- gain a sense of competence through the arts
2. Building Supportive and Meaningful Connections with their peers and mentors.
3. Letting go of the Inner Critic and Discovering the Authentic Voice – opportunities to garner a sense of autonomy, let go of their self-judgment, and adopt an open attitude.
When we reflect on the lives of people who sacrifice their comforts for the betterment of others, what surfaces is that there is a deep link to why this desire emerged in the first place.
When we look into the life journey of Jigyasa Labroo, the Founder and CEO of Slam Out Loud, her upbringing is strongly connected to her early influence on the subject of educating those who did not get this advantage easily.
Jigyasa grew up in Dharamshala but her family’s roots are in Kashmir. She used to be an introverted child when she was young. Her mother used to teach children from impoverished communities and Jigyasa and her sister would join her often. At age 15, she noticed that these children had the potential but were held back because of their own barriers. She also experienced that if one had a very thoughtful, caring, and sensitive teacher to love and support you as a student, then there are greater chancesto bloom. Doors of opportunity opened when she attended mushayaras with her mother and once,won Rs.100 for reading out her poetry. This gave her confidence level a boost.
She understood that if given the right opportunity and nurturing, even a weak child gains the confidence to succeed in life.
In 2012, in college, she taught music to a group of 30 children, from the slums in Gurgaon. In 2013, during the summer break, she found herself in an emotionally challenging space where she was working through visual arts with children
suffering from terminal diseases. Next was the experience of working with physically and mentally challenged children.
She says “These children taught me more than I could ever teach them, be it either in the way, they empathized with each other, accepting each other and all different perspectives or in the details that their observations captured, as they learned through the arts.”
Destiny edged her forward and she started teaching in a low-income classroom in the Government school, Tughlakabad extension, as a part of her fellowship at Teach For India in 2014. This is where she connected with Gaurav Singh who later joined her to take her initiative forward.
Working closely with these children made them see that just completing their syllabus and getting their matriculate certificates will not help them succeed. They needed life skills and to learn to speak about their issues. She was providing holistic education to 50 girls from a challenging community in Delhi. These girls were subjected to violence and harassment at home. Seeing the plight of these girls made her acknowledge the problems in the way education is being delivered in India, and hence, she decided to come up with Slam Out Loud.
They started with teaching through the arts in the classroom, using music, visual arts, nukkad natak, dance, and poetry, and in an attempt to be a part of solution and get their students to develop 21st Century life and leadership Skills
along with the values of open-mindedness, tolerance, active listening, empathy, respect, and embracing diversity.
Since it was a registered organization, it soon received donations from various corporates through CSR funds.
When so much hard work and dedication goes into bringing in change, accolades are meant to follow-
Slam Out Loud has been featured in HundrED’s Global Collection of the 100 most impactful innovations that are changing the face of education in the world.
In March 2023, they were awarded the Children’s Champion Award from the Delhi Commission of Protection of Child Rights in the Arts category.
Jigyasa Labroo, was honored with a place in the Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia list in 2022.
“Creativity takes courage.”— Henri Matisse
Jigyasa went forward to build this courage in those who lived in fear and silence, accepting fate as it was served to them. She is responsible for changing the lives of thousands by just recognizing and rekindling this courage in young hearts and minds.
Hope many more join this movement and be a part of this movement of change.
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