While government schools used to hold 'hobby classes' for students in Class X and XII during summer vacations, this is the first time the government has started summer camps modelled on public schools, involving at least 44 schools. The project called Indradhanush (rainbow), is teaching them theatre, music, dance, painting and crafts. Summer camps, an urban phenomenon and also, a relatively new concept in India, where most children use the vacations for family visits, are mostly out of the reach of low-income groups. Director of Education Chandrabhushan Kumar said this was a step towards the government's decision to combine vocational training with academics and expose government school children to various art forms. He said that at the end of the month-long camp, which started May 19, participants will be awarded certificates and their plays will be staged at school functions.
In the hall at Zeenat Mahal School, as they practised, the children sweated, but continued. The play was a story of four villages that had names that reflected their traits, like the morality plays of olden days, and how they got together to overcome their fear of a monster who they believed existed. Principal Raziya Begum said the students were excited about the camp. Many children from the neighbouring areas have also joined in. At the Government Girls' Senior Secondary School, Dilshad Garden, the children's singing could be heard from outside the gates. As they raised their pitch to match their teacher's, Principal Sunita Rahi stood at the door, watching. Currently, the school is holding music and theatre classes in its camp. Each region has several schools that conduct two of the five courses so that children in the area can take up activities of their choice. In another hall across the corridor, around 42 children jumped and kicked as they staged an impromptu platform scene. For Chandrabhushan Kumar who pushed the summer camp project, this is something that will help students explore the talents they might not have discovered otherwise. The camps are free.