When volunteers of Sister Rose Memorial Education Resource Centre (SRMERC), Valiathura, decided to introduce the smart class learning system on a trial basis for the students of 10th standard, they had no idea the change they were about to witness.

This year's SSLC results show this non-governmental organisation's success. Eighteen students who had appeared for the examination produced impressive results. While all managed to score above 60 per cent, 10 among them scored 80 per cent. The success becomes sweeter when one comes to understand that these children had no luxury of special care or coaching as most of them belonged to poor fisherman families.

According to SRMERC secretary Robert Tanipilla, the intention was to provide the students with an interactive learning environment aimed at an overall improvement in the quality of their studies.

“Most of the students come from educationally backward backgrounds. With limited resources, we were able to create a highly engaging and productive environment for the students. The best part was that the children were quick to adapt to the new system,” he said.

Under the smart class learning programme, the students were divided into small groups and each group was assigned a specific topic from their school texts.

The groups, under the supervision of the volunteers, collected relevant information based on these topics.

They made use of various resources, collected images and videos using Free and Open Software to prepare interactive study materials. The materials were presented before the class. The presentation was followed by discussions and question-answer sessions. Software such as Libre office, GIMP, and Stellerium were used to create interesting study modules of geography and science subjects.

The basic infrastructure such as computers and projectors were provided and were maintained by philanthropic organisations such as Cheru Reshmi Centre and Coastal Higher Education Society.

According to Juno Lopez , a volunteer with the institution, this method of learning not only provided the students with an interesting mode of learning but also helped in building their leadership and communication skills.

“In many schools the resources are underutilised. It is the teaching community who should take the initiative to introduce these kinds of interactive learning among the students which help the children to explore and learn productively. We are planning to extend this system to all subjects in the coming year,” he added.

The most important change the institution noticed was that through such kind of learning even the most educationally backward students can be made to excel in their studies. They would then take the responsibility on their own to build a better future for themselves, said Mr. Robert.