Now playing in a classroom near you

Now playing in a classroom near you

Now playing in a classroom near you

In a bid to harness the power of cinema in the service of education, a Bangalore-based company called EduMedia  has conceived an audio-visual activity to enhance collaborative learning.

Playing in schools near you, as part of the curriculum, is School Cinema – a series of films for the classroom, packed with activity plans and worksheets to train young minds in life skills, self-development and values.

First launched in Bangalore, the programme has since rolled out to other states across India and most recently to Maharashtra and Mumbai. As things stand, over a hundred schools in the country have introduced School Cinema in the academic calendar.  

School Cinema is currently available for students of 1st, 2nd, 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th standards.  Each set contains ten films for students, one film each for parents and teachers, along with  help-sheets, workbooks, worksheets and other related material.

In all, the company has  made 48 films, covering different spheres of a child’s healthy holistic growth, skill and character building.  The films deal with topics like Self Awareness, Empathy, Communication, Interpersonal and Social Skills, Decision Making, Problem Solving, Creative Thinking, Critical Thinking, and Coping with Stress.

School Cinema also takes up  adolescent issues as well as topics like the importance of Health and Hygiene, Values and Ethics, Environment, Citizenship, National Integration, Careers and Disaster Management.

For teachers, the films may serve as aids to create an effective learning environment in the classroom and make teaching interesting and effective. The films could also  help them understand and motivate children, especially those with learning disabilities.

Parents too can benefit from understanding and encouraging the psychological and social development of children, as the films underline effective parenting by way of  interpersonal communication and motivating children.

Edumedia’s ‘Collaborative Learning’ programme assumes importance in the wake of the HRD Ministry’s directive to phase out annual exams and promote overall development of children in schools.

Hailing the concept, the Chairman of Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), Vineet Joshi, describes the project as “very interesting and very relevant to the present times”.

According to Edumedia’s India’s Managing Director Syed Sultan Ahmed, who is associated with Sam Pitroda’s Knowledge Commission, School Cinema aims to influence young minds to make better choices for themselves as young adults. It also instils values. It provides a structure to bring parents into the learning circle and helps children to appreciate good films.

Schools are trying to  keep pace with the latest  technology and are investing heavily in infrastructure, manpower and equipment that can impact the child’s learning and understanding ability. But what may be missing is the value-based quality content.

“When it comes to life skills, the lack of quality teachers and the undue emphasis on academics are the primary reasons why schools find it difficult to equip children with skills to handle life issues, which could range from  understanding  the value of telling the truth and dealing with issues like bullying or academic stress,” he explains.

Tabassum Modi, Director-EduMedia and Project Head for School Cinema, says: “With children, you need to talk in a language they can understand. You need a medium that is non-threatening, a form of communication that they not only feel familiar with, but which subtly encourages and influences them. And that’s why we believe that cinema is the best way to reaffirm life-skills, values and morals in children.”

She says the firm has conducted several surveys and identified key issues such as the psychosocial development of children, parental concerns, and teachers’ priorities. “The reality of how children are growing today is very different from what it used to be. Bullying, fear, stress, pressures, sexual predators, and violence have affected children who  have more to deal with than the earlier generations,” she observes.

“We research every aspect of the film-making process. Right from the story, screenplay and dialogues to locations and actors — at every level and in every detail of the film, we’ve tried to integrate our knowledge of what kids want, what is most effective with them, what they can relate to, etc. This exercise helped the filmmakers make something which correlated to the needs which we had identified during  the research,” says Modi.  

Modules and topics developed for School Cinema  are based on recommendations by  agencies such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and extensive surveys conducted across Indian schools, covering the Life Skills, Value Education and Moral Science syllabus.  

School Cinema films are certified by the Central Board of Film Certification.  The films are helmed by veterans from cinema, television and  advertising, and alumni  from  institutions such as FTII (Film & Television Institute of India), NID (National Institute of Design), and NYFA (New York Film Academy).

Powerhouse of talent

Some of the  directorial talents currently on board  with  School Cinema are: Shashant Shah, director of the critically acclaimed Dasvidaniya, Suresh Triveni, World Gold Promax Award Winner for his promos, Faiza Ahmad Khan, winner of multiple awards at domestic and international  film fests for the  laugh riot, Supermen of Malegaon, Atul Taishete, multiple festival award winner for the short film Rewind, Sudhakar Reddy, UNESCO Award winner for Best Script for the film Ek Akaash, and  environmentalist Mike Pandey’s Riverbank Studios, a leading documentary film company focusing on nature and wildlife conservation.

School Cinema is currently available for students of 1st, 2nd, 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th standards. Each set contains ten films for students, one film each for parents and teachers, along with  help-sheets, workbooks, worksheets and other related material.