Video | Creating stronger ties between the students, the school, and members of the Halakki: A people who grow ‘milky white rice’ – Karnataka

Here is a presentation on a school project that employed artists, local arts and cultural practices, and community knowledge systems to enhance arts education for its students.

The Malenadu Educational and Rural Development Society (MEARDS), a registered, not-for-profit organisation working in the Uttar Kannada district of Karnataka, received a grant from IFA in 2018. This grant was made for a year-long engagement with students and staff of Chandana English Medium School. The project brought together the Halakki community and the school to create stronger ties between the students, the school, and community members. Halakki Vokkaligas are among the prominent tribes of the state and are often considered the original residents. Under the guidance of Sukri Bommanagowda, an elder of the Halakki Vokkaliga community who is one of the custodians of their tradition, students were able to connect with and learn from the community through a series of activities such as documenting, discussions, field trips, and interviews.

Lakshmi Bhat has been a Senior Librarian at Chandana School with over ten years of experience. She also serves as Director of the Karnataka Balavikasa Academy.

Pushpa Bhat is a trained Hindustani Classical singer who has been serving as a music teacher at Chandana School for over ten years.

The Malenadu Educational and Rural Development Society received a grant from IFA under its Arts Education programme, made possible with support from Citi India.

Source: Video channel of the India Foundation for the Arts >>

IFA Project Showcase >>

With the implementation of arts education in schools as envisaged by the National Curriculum Framework (NCF) 2005, IFA’s attempt has been to raise the standard of arts education and support it through multiple strategies like grants, trainings and exposures. In addition to grant to teachers and artists, our decision to make grants to schools came from the realisations that this would provide opportunities for the entire school to integrate their arts education programme, bring the various stakeholders together, and connect local arts and cultural practices and community knowledge systems to classroom pedagogies. This would build a knowledge-network between the school and the environment in which it exists.

This pilot grant has been made to Chandana English Medium School run by The Malenadu Educational and Rural Development Society, Narebailu, Uttara Kannada district. This grant will enable year-long activities with the school as the anchor, bringing together artists, the community and other civic groups to establish and enhance arts education for students. The school is nestled in the midst of nature in Narebailu a village near Sirsi in Uttara Kannada district. Students come by the school bus every day from Yellapur, Sirsi, Mundagodu, Siddapura, and Soraba taluks and have a mix of urban and rural backgrounds. The school believes in child-centred teaching and storytelling, puppetry, games and music are often used.

Halakki Vokkaligas are among the prominent tribes of the state and often considered the original residents. Halakki is a combination of two words in Kannada haalu meaning milk, and akki meaning rice. Vokkalu means agriculturist. So Halakki Vokkaligas are people who grow ‘milky white rice’. The tribe has a rich lineage of cultural practices notably music. Having survived over the centuries bearing the tradition of their ancestors, the older generation, especially its womenfolk, is now wondering how to continue their legacy.

The year-long project at the school titled Halliya Vividha Mukhagalu (Different Faces of the Village) aims to bring together the Halakki community and the school. The aim of the project is to understand the relationships between the school and the community and how to leverage these to enhance student learning. […]

This project will focus on learning through Sukri ajji and the community members the various cultural and traditional practices of the Halakkis. […]

Source: “The Malenadu Educational and Rural Development Society”, India Foundation for the Arts
Date Visited: 5 December 2021

Learn more: projects supported by the India Foundation for the Arts >>

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“We shall first have to give up this hubris of considering tribes backward. Every tribe has a rich and living cultural tradition and we must respect them.” – Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu on the constitutional obligation to respect the cultural traditions of India’s tribal communities

Gandhiji at Prayer Time, Parnakuti, Poona (1944) by Chittaprosad, the great advocate of the rights of workers and revolutionary artists. | Learn more in “Gandhi, Secularism, and Cultural Democracy” by Vinay Lal >>
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See also




Health and nutrition

Homes and utensils




Museum collections – India

Uttara Kannada

Sacred grove

Seasons and festivals


Southern region – Southern Zonal Council

Tribal Arts in India: The National Inventory of Tribal Museums – an invitation for researchers and institutions engaged in conservation of tribal culture

Uttara Kannada

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Western Ghats – tribal heritage & ecology

Western region –  Western Zonal Council