Akshar Forum in Pamohi village of Guwahati in Assam is a school for underprivileged students where money is plastic here. No, students do not pay with a debit or credit card. They pay fees in the form of plastic waste!
So, don’t be surprised if you find a line of students waiting outside the school, bags full of plastic in hand. Or if you walk into classrooms full of students of all ages being taught by another student. That’s Akshar Forum.
According to a report in www.homegrown.co,in, the school was co-founded by Parmita Sharma and Mazin Mukhtar in 2016 with the objective of training students to “earn a livelihood by being responsible to the government”. Education is far from conventional here – Akshar helps students explore their own creativity and set their own limits.
According to Akshar’s vice-president, Priyongsu Borthakur, the idea to accept payment in plastic waste was born out of Akshar Forum’s recycling programme.
Six months ago, the school started collecting dry plastic waste from households in the vicinity, setting the students up to the task of collection and segregation of the waste. “The idea is to train students to recognise how to live an eco-friendly life”, says Borthakur.
Parmita remembers how their classrooms would earlier be filled with toxic fumes every time someone burnt plastics nearby.
Many households in Pamohi prefer to send their children to stone quarries instead of schools so that they can earn some money. Akshar Forum aspires to change this.