A friend of mine from the US asked me if my child was doing any community service as part of his high school studies. Moreover, he told me that his son is required to perform 200 hours of community service to graduate from high school. This is a requirement in many states in the US.
A news headline caught my eye last week. India continued to lead the global consumer confidence index for the last 6 quarters according to Nielson survey. India, especially urban India has huge middle-class and upper-middle-class population who are supposed to be the huge consumer market. We have crores of kids, from well-to-do families, who attend costly schools and private tuition classes. Can we use their time and energy constructively and in the process teach them something really useful? Can their energy be channelized into community service through their schools? There are some rare examples where schools and/or parents make sure that their kids get some exposure to community service, but could we make this a regular feature rather than some exceptional cases?
Community service by high school (teenager) students will not only help social organizations and the society, in general, but will also teach real life lessons to students. Children can get exposure to non-cognitive skills like teamwork, problem solving, and communication. This will teach them empathy, sensitize them on social issues and inculcate good civic sense in them. Moreover, it will give them some practical work experience.
Teenagers can help in several activities. They can contribute in literacy programs, in cleaning rivers and lakes, in old age homes and the like. Of course, it would be challenging to plan and execute such programs successfully. However, nothing worthwhile ever comes easy!