The Emperor Has No Clothes: Hacking the Education System Fellowship

By Manish Jain


Let us start with a story about the state of our education system to help set a context for this Fellowship…

Many years ago there lived a wicked and greedy Emperor who cared only about his designer-labelled clothes and about showing them off. One day he heard from two swindlers that they could make the finest suit of clothes from the most beautiful cloth. This cloth, they said, also had the special capability that it was invisible to anyone who was either stupid or not fit for his position.

Being a bit nervous about whether he himself would be able to see the cloth, the emperor first sent two of his trusted men to see it. Of course, neither would admit that they could not see the cloth and so praised it. All the townspeople had also heard of the cloth and were interested to learn how stupid their neighbors were.

The emperor then allowed himself to be dressed in the clothes for a procession through town, never admitting that he was too unfit and stupid to see what he was wearing. For he was afraid that the other people would think that he was stupid.

Of course, all the townspeople wildly praised the magnificent clothes of the emperor, afraid to admit that they could not see them, until a small child said:

“But he has nothing on”!

This was whispered from person to person until everyone in the crowd was shouting that the emperor had nothing on. The emperor heard it and felt that they were correct, but held his head high and continued with the procession…He was afraid to admit to everyone that he had been bamboozled. So he carried on pretending that everything was alright.

“The modern factory-schooling education system is one of the greatest crimes against humanity. One hundred years from now, we will look back at the violence of schools and ask how we could we have done this to innocent children?”                                                – Manish Jain, Shikshantar Andolan

We are issuing a call to rise up like the child in the story and expose the Naked Emperor of Formal Education and Schooling. This is a fradulent system of learning whose purpose is to convert beautiful diverse human beings into robot-like “human resources” and into stupid global consumers. It is time to stop pretending that schools are spaces for meaningful learning or that they can be fixed. It is time to free our imaginations about learning and living from the suffocating monoculture strangle-hold of factory-schooling and the global economy. It is time…

The first HACK THE EDUCATION SYSTEM FELLOWSHIP is for 8 weeks in India. During this period, you will be exposed to some of the wildest ideas about learning and education from around the world. And help to co-create and share some wild and crazy prototypes. Note: We don’t want ideas to reform the existing system – we want to hack it.

Hacking means: to playfully deconstruct, break into, to cut to the core and expose, disrupt, dismantle, decolonize, provoke, playfully make fun of, help escape, co-create new experiments, re-imagine, change the story…

During this fellowship, you will be asked to conceive, design and implement a project in India that will help hack the existing education/factory schooling system and promote alternative pathways of self-designed learning (see below for past project ideas).  You will also be expected to give some time each week to help other Fellows with their projects and to interact with international mentors. This will be a very fun and intense period with the minimum time commitment at 25-30 hours per week. For this period, fellows will receive a basic stipend of Rs.20,000 to support their living/travelling expenses.  Fellows will be supported in developing a project proposal for crowdfunding if they wish to take their project forward after the fellowship period.

The Fellowship programme will be scheduled as such:

– Week 1 Hack Camp in Udaipur: Meet all the fellows and engage in intense co-creation and project design process.

– Weeks 2-7 on your own: Prototype and implement your project. You are expected to engage in weekly check-in calls with your mentor and Sangha fellows.

– Week 8 Celebration and Sharing in Udaipur: Share experiences and discuss how to take their ideas forward.


The first fellowship will be open to those currently living in India.  We envision future fellowships to involve hackers from all over the world.


Some examples of potential hacking projects include:

MORE of the story / click image TOP of PAGE