Learner-centric methodology was used in classes I to IV

Activity Based Learning (ABL) that was projected as learner-centric methodology for students of standards I to IV not long ago now appears to be in suspended animation in a majority of primary schools in the district.

But, the teachers who have reverted to text-book teaching are not to be blamed. They still have no idea as to how to go about the ABL methodology in the absence of learning cards, after the Samacheer Kalvi was put in place for this academic year.

Since the existing cards are based on the earlier syllabi, they could be put only to supportive use at the most.

Teachers have no clue on arriving at the learning ladder. There is no clear signal from the Directorate of Elementary Education or from the office of the Project Officer of Sarva Siksha Abhiyan as yet. A method of preparing the learning ladder initiated half-heartedly by Cluster Resource Centres just failed to take off. Teachers say there is talk doing the rounds that the ABL system would be done away with from the next academic year.

Nevertheless, they are not unduly worried. “In fact, we feel more comfortable with the textbook-based teaching as only then can the assigned portions be completed justifiably,” reasoned out S.Neelakandan, Tiruchi Urban Unit Secretary of Tamil Nadu Primary School Teachers' Federation.

Expenditure incurred on preparing the cards is another factor. Each teacher is allotted Rs.500 per year for the purpose, which is deemed to be grossly insufficient. For each subject, teachers have to come out with 50 to 100 cards, causing the expenditure to overshoot the allotment. But not all teachers feel inclined to spend out of their pockets.

Most of all, the methodology has not served the intended purpose of preventing dropouts. On the other hand, the system has caused a drop in enrolment of students in government and government-aided schools, teachers argue. An impression was created by the educational administration that ABL that was based on hands-on experiments and activities was working well, and that children were enjoying their role as active learners. Though there was no denying the fact, it was also true that there were only a handful of schools that pursued the approach honestly, teachers point out.

According to Mr.Neelakandan, teachers confronted difficulties in completing the syllabus when the ABL system was followed. Under the system, children of standards I to IV were clubbed together and initiated into the ladder system of learning. There have been instances of students in level IV being unable to complete the requirement of even level II. For instance, a majority of the students who are now in std. V would not have completed the content in the previous year, teachers say.

According to official sources, the trimester system that the State Government intends to implement from next year from levels I to VIII would be replete with learner-centric activities that would restore the advantages inherent in the ABL system.