April 11, 2009

Please Vote for Me

We should have had the General Elections in July.
Then we could have had the opportunity to expose senior school students to the ins and outs of this democratic process.
Days in June would have been perfect.
Should school students get involved?
A few days ago we were treated to a selection of the best documentary films made worldwide. These were films chosen at the famed INPUT Festival which has its base in Germany and the screening in Chennai was arranged by the Goethe Institut.
One docu film was a clear winner.
The film is called 'Please Vote for Me'.
Made in 2007, it is based on the elections for a class monitor in a 3rd grade class of eight year old children in the Evergreen Primary School in Wuhan, China.
This was reported to be the first election of its type for a class monitor held in a school in China and it was thought to be an interesting use of classic democratic voting principles and interpersonal dynamics.
This wonderful film gives a glimpse into China's contemporary urban middle classes.
'Please Vote for Me' was named by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences as one of 15 films on its documentary feature Oscar shortlist. The list was narrowed to five films but this one did not make it to the final five.
The film is part of the "Why Democracy?" series. It has been aired in no less than 35 different countries around the world.
Every act that you may associate with an election also takes place in the midst of these children, in the classroom and at home and outside. Oneupmanship, despair, frustration, tall promises, intense preparation, networking and even grant of freebies!
And there is a lot to learn from the actual event on that campus.
I think it is time we took the democratic process to all our schools.
And provided it a decent amount of time - to talk, discuss and debate. And extend it to a campus election and all that comes after an election.
Perhaps this is one of the many ways in which we can have a better informed and educated electorate.
And for those who manage schools in the neighbourhoods and would like to get a feel of the China experiment and perhaps even try it out, 'Please Vote for Me' is 'must see'.
I am sure the Goethe Institut will arrange a screening if it has a copy.


AJai said...

I just happened to pass by your blog while browsing. It's nice to see some one from Chennai taking so much initiative. If there is any way I can help you please let me know. Thanks.

meerasworld said...

with all due respect to that documentary and its content,i wonder if anything like that is really happening in china.

very interesting postings.thank you.