The 12th All-India Children's Educational Audio-Video Festival screened films on a wide spectrum of themes, reports ANUPAMA R

There is no lead in lead pencils and one pencil may take up to a month to make. One learnt this and other equally interesting facts over the last few days. No wonder then that from March 13 to 15, there was a buzz at Animation Centre, Vellayambalam, where short films were being screened at the 12th All-India Children's Educational Audio-Video Festival 2007. Thanks to State Institute of Educational Technology (SIET), Kerala, and Central Institute of Educational Technology (CIET), the festival was organised for the first time in Kerala and hosted by SIET, Kerala. The festival showcased children's educational films from all over India, in various languages. Babu Sebastian, Director SIET Kerala and festival director, explains that the main purpose of the festival is to promote e-learning and raise educational standards to global levels. "As part of the festival, we also have a coordination meeting to develop a mutual understanding between the Ministry of Human Resources Development, the SIETs, NIET and the Regional Institutes of Education," says Dr. Sebastian. There will be coordinated efforts to achieve progress in educational technology using the Kerala model of development this year, he adds.

Educational content

Showcasing educational content in video and audio formats, the festival also gave awards under several categories, as decided by a jury. Every year, content development agencies are invited to submit entries in four broad categories: children in the five to eight year age group, nine to 11 years, high school/higher secondary students and, finally, teachers. A primary selection is held in New Delhi after which the competing films are shown to the public in a festival format, explains Dr. Sebastian. From Archimedes to saint-poet Meera, and from science to butterflies, the films covered a wide spectrum of themes, entertaining and informing the viewers. `Garden of Eden Part 5 - Butterflies: The angels of nature' produced by SIET Kerala, which looks into the abundance of butterflies in the State, won several awards including `Best Overall Best Video Programme' and `Best Camera.' `Asha' by SIET Hyderabad also won a `Best Programme' award. `Poopy', a highly enjoyable animation film from Kerala, also went on to win four awards. This year, besides winning awards in several categories, SIET Kerala took home the rolling trophy as well.

Back to school

Watching many of the films, it was like going to school all over again, learning several new things about the world. For instance, dogs and humans both have four blood groups: a fact highlighted in `Har mutthi mein hein science,' a fun-filled science-oriented programme in Hindi. While `Father's Day' in Gujarati by GIET Ahmedabad poignantly underlined the problems faced by senior citizens, the Telugu film `Andiriki Vidya' from SIET Hyderabad, stressed on every child's right to education. The films proved that multimedia and ICT (information and communication technology) play a vital role in imparting education in today's world. "Education is the structured flow of information, and knowledge is not teacher-oriented," argues Dr Sebastian. Moving away from the traditional `chalk and talk concept,' education needs to facilitate this `flow' using ICT, he adds. One couldn't agree more.