Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Mobile Labs Reach Rural Schools

Increasing attention is being given to rural schools from the government and other organisations. But outdated textbooks, lack of good reading material and good teaching techniques are still problems that these schools have to grapple with. In order to engage children in the learning process, one needs to ensure that they enjoy the process. In India, mobile labs are making their way to rural areas thanks to a group called Agastya International Foundation. And this group is redefining how children perceive science.

An article, "Spreading Science in India's villages" elaborates:
Twelve-year-old Sujatha sits riveted under a tree in a village in India’s southern state of Andhra Pradesh as a teacher explains the complex concept of refraction to her and a gaggle of equally enthralled children with the help of a simple, everyday prop like a rolled up newspaper. Like her classmates she is disappointed when the 45-minute lesson on this somewhat esoteric concept in physics ends.

“It’s fun,” says Sujatha simply, already looking forward to the class next week in Kuppam, about 250 km from India’s IT hub of Bangalore.

The simple statement from the farmer’s daughter is just the certificate that the Agastya International Foundation is looking for as it goes about the task of popularising science in India’s vast hinterland.

Agastya’s mobile science laboratories crisscross the dirt roads and highways of the southern states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, triggering curiosity and the itch to learn in over two million rural schoolchildren.

Some 30 minibuses equipped with folding tables, projection screens and experimental models christened the ‘Mobile Lab’ by the Agastya team travel hundreds of kilometres each week across the three states, teaching science to the children of farmers, contract labourers and quarry workers.

Erecting their many props under trees, in dilapidated school buildings or simply in the open during good weather, these classes have increasingly attracted not only children but also their illiterate parents, conscious of their ignorance and keen to learn more.

For the children, the shift in focus from rote-based learning to critical and independent thinking generates an attitudinal change that soon becomes apparent, she adds.
Read more of this interesting article here.

And here is a video on the work done by Agastya International Foundation:



Also read about "A tricycle with square wheels" made possible by the Agastya International Foundation.

To know more about them, visit them here

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