A group of Chennai School heads, who are back from a recent visit to Finland to study public schools in that country, say that a good learning ambience can help improve the quality of education.

“In Finland, the student-teacher ratio is very low. The maximum number is 28 students to one teacher. The classrooms are well furnished, they are all smart classrooms and not just the teacher but every student is involved in classroom activities,” said a teacher, one of a group who was at a programme earlier this week.

The teachers were impressed by the fact that education was a priority in that country and there were no private schools.

Parents need not go in search of good schools for their children. All they need to do is enrol them at the nearest school. In the first two grades, the schools’ emphasis is on teaching in their mother tongue. so that the children’s fundamentals are strong. The teacher waits for everyone in the class to understand, comprehend and complete their work before moving on to the next lesson. Their classes seem so leisurely,” said the school heads, who went along with members of EZ Vidya, an education research and innovation organisation.

And what do they think can be put into practice in Chennai Schools? The five teachers — Hemalatha Ramkumar, T. Nalinakumari S. Chandar, A. Rajini and P. Latha Jaya Selvi, along with E. Govindasamy, assistant education officer — have ideas that they plan to put into practice.

“Rather than asking teachers to maintain ‘work done’ notebooks, we want them to have a ‘work to be done’ notebook. It would contain the day-to-day syllabus that a teacher would go through in the classroom. Also, a lot of activities can be charted out for teachers and children to do together,” said Ms. Selvi.

Ms. Rajini said that along with education, her focus would be on introducing extra-curricular activities. “We have teachers for art and craft. I think every child must be involved in some activity after school,” she said.

Ms. Nalinakumari said that mathematics could be taught using mobile phones. “The software has to be in Tamil. “EZ Vidya already helps us teach English and science using mobile phones. In Finland, all the children had mobile phones and they stored previous lessons on them,” she explained.

More field trips would enhance learning, said Ms. Ramkumar. “We saw students there go stay in a forest and learn about plants and animals. We do take our students to the museum and on industrial trips but I want to increase the number of such trips,” she said.

Mr. Chandar said that the seating arrangement in classrooms could be changed, allowing for more space for children to move around. “We have a computer lab and will use it in more for educational activities,” he said.

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