Rather than preaching morals to students, the school management realized that the students would inculcate integrity much better by themselves.

Against the backdrop of all the corruption and scandals that seem to be the most common news items these days in India, Isha Vidhya’s Erode school has started a novel initiative called “Honesty Shop.” This is an unmanned shop where regular articles like pencils, erasers, crayons, pens, refills, maps, ruled and unruled sheets, color pencils etc. are sold. Eatables are also available.

Students from 6th to 9th standard are allowed to buy from the shop which is kept open before the school day starts, post school and during the lunch break. The students deposit cash in the money box kept at the shop after checking the price list of the items they want to pick up. The accounts are tallied every Monday, and after a week of operation, the shop actually had some cash in excess of the goods sold! The school is also taking feedback from students about what they want in the shop. Soon, the shop will also stock colored chart papers, picture charts etc. based on requests from students.

Rather than preaching morals to students, the school management realized that the students would inculcate integrity much better by themselves, and they were right! Kavitha, a ninth standard student said, “After all the shop has been opened for us and how can one be dishonest. It has shaped our conscience and disciplined us to be honest even when no one is there to monitor us. No one really believed that such a system could work. We are really proud of our school.”

Isha Vidhya’s initiative has been picked up by other schools in the state also, as reported by the Deccan Herald newspaper. The Deccan Herald states: “a school at Karumathur in Madurai district also established a honesty shop on its campus. This school has gone one step further. Besides offering stationery items and eatables, it has a general store exclusively for girl students from seventh to 12th standard. The school maintains all the accounts neatly, involving both students and teachers.

Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhi­yan (RMSA), a joint venture of the Centre and the State governments to achieve universalisation of Secondary Education and to prevent dropouts after elementary education, also plans to open honesty shops in 44 schools across the state.”

Editor’s Note: Isha Vidhya’s nine rural schools offer education to 5200 children, 2900 of whom are on full scholarships, thanks to generous donors. If you wish to support Isha Vidhya and help it meet this year’s infrastructure and administrative requirements of eight of its schools, please do so at the India Giving Challenge. Your donation will help Isha Vidhya offer a bright future to underprivileged children, who will otherwise languish behind. For more details, please contact give.india@ishavidhya.org.