Innovate and educate

Innovate and educate

Education is imparted on the basis of the curriculum set by the State Government but the teachers assist the children in learning lessons, based on their own experience. Pic by the author

Children in the Government Primary School in Hunsur taluk, Mysore, do not take textbooks with them. Neither do they worry about examinations. The students of classes one to four sit side by side in the same classroom.

A language class here does not mean learning only the language. They also learn environmental science, social science and mathematics. This is perhaps why the learning standard of the children in Hunsur taluk has gone up.

The education sector is witnessing several changes and experiments in recent years with the objective of bringing about overall development of the child with quality in learning. A continuation of such efforts is the Kalika Yatna programme, started in collaboration with the Prajayatna Self-Help Group, at the Bilikere cluster in Hunsur taluk. When the new system was implemented in 2005-06, 930 students and 22 teachers of classes one to three, belonging to 22 schools, took part in it. Extended till class five in 2007-08, the programme covers all the schools of the taluk from 2008-09, with 512 teachers and 13,055 students of 159 lower and 115 higher primary schools in the taluk.

Education is imparted on the basis of the curriculum set by the State Government but the teachers assist the children in learning, based on their own experience.

For example, if the syllabus has a lesson on animals, the teachers do not just “cover the portion”. They ask the children to come up with names of the animals they know. The teachers write those names on the blackboard and then get the children to classify those animals. If a student has listed  tiger, lion, goat and cow, the teachers ask questions like, “Are there tigers in your town/village?” “Why aren’t the tigers there in your town/village?” or, “Does anyone rear tigers?” By posing such questions, they help the children to classify the animals into wild and domesticated types.

The basics of mathematics are taught by counting the number of animals, whose names are already written on the blackboard. The children are asked to name the qualities of each animal through which lessons on science and social science are also covered.
Children studying in classes one to five learn these lessons without having to depend on textbooks alone.

Both students and teachers are co-participants in the learning process, with the latter using their knowledge and experience as tools to help the children. All learning activities are framed around a particular topic (or subject) —  a continuation of the previous learning activity. Only after all aspects of that particular topic are explored and exhausted, do they take up another subject. The teachers gauge the response of children towards their daily activities before facilitating further learning. The teachers also keep a record of the learning process of each child. They believe that the child should acquire the ability to acquire knowledge according to his/her requirements. And, that knowledge should also contain human values.

A typical day in the Kalika Yatna programme is divided into three periods:

*Group learning

*Learning group

*Individual learning

In the first period, the teachers engage all the students present in activities with a broad concept that is interesting to all, by narrating stories and then posing questions.

In the second period, the children are divided into smaller groups and given specific topics. The children discuss the topic, helped by the teachers with appropriate instructions. The groups then share their conclusions.

In the third period, each child will practise all that he or she has learnt so far — the alphabet, words, sentences and sums. The teachers provide suggestions as the focus is on interaction between the children.

There are no tests or examinations to determine a child’s progress. Instead, a review is conducted every week.

Every week, the teachers send home a diary containing details about the child’s activities, drawings and worksheets so that parents get to see their child’s progress.
A report card containing teachers’ notes about the child’s learning and results conforming to the curriculum and standards set by the Department of Education is also sent home, once in three months.

The teachers frame concepts for the month at a meeting at the cluster-level. This unique experiment has shown how learning can be enjoyable.

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