In one of the many attempts by Bengaluru citizens to raise awareness among voters in the city, the Karnataka Associated Management of English-medium Schools (KAMS) has proposed a very interesting incentive to get the parents of their students to vote in the May 12 Assembly elections.
According to reports, KAMS has decided to award extra marks to students whose parents have voted. A student can gain a maximum of 4 marks, as each vote will get them 2 marks, for the academic year 2018-19.
D Shashi Kumar, general secretary of KAMS, said, “We will record the details of the students and the parents and award 4 marks to them in the Part B section of internal assessments.” Some schools expect parents are to report to the school right after voting, while some can wait until schools reopen to show their inked finger to ensure the children get the marks. Although marks cannot be rewarded to students of pre-primary grades, who do not have exams, and students of Class 10, who have state-level exams, these students’ parents will be incentivised through lucky draws and rewards in a few schools.
All the schools under the purview of KAMS were sent a notification with regard to this, and some schools have signed up to implement the proposal.
This is not the first time that schools have used marks to induce parents to participate in elections. Shashi Kumar said that this tactic has been previously tried in one particular school in Bengaluru. Some schools claim to have tried it with the BBMP elections successfully. A few schools also claim to be reaching out to parents through class-wise Whatsapp groups. Parents can also post photos with their inked on these groups.
Shashi Kumar added that the move is to motivate parents who may treat the election weekend as a possible vacation to stay back and cast their vote instead. He also believes it’s a learning opportunity for students. “As school managements, it is our responsibility to instil among students a sense of democracy. With this move, we want children to become change agents and urge their parents to vote,” he said.
Bengaluru is infamous for a low voter turnout. The city had recorded a turnout of 57.38% in 2013, against a statewide turnout of 71.45%. While some voters blame poorly maintained electoral rolls, political scientist Dr Sandeep Shastri told to TNM, “For me, the fact of omission and commission in the voters list is possibly a mask being used to hide voters’ indifference. I think the urban voter sees no merit in going out and voting. I feel the urban voters apathy is linked to the fact that he or she can solve their problems without the political process.”
With many such initiatives urging voters to participate in the elections is gaining momentum in the run-up to the polls, it remains to be seen whether the city gets rid of its reputation for voter apathy this May 12.