Schools

Lessons in life

Students of Abhyasa Vidyalayam helping in the kitchen.  

Y.V. Krishna is the Principal of Abhyasa Vidyalayam that imparts experiential education. “A school should liberate the minds of the children from the stress of competition. We do not award marks or rank the children either as we do not want to separate them on basis of their scores,” says the man whose paper on ‘Pedagogy of Primary Mathematics' was one of the three to get selected at a symposium organised by the Council for Creative Education, Hyderabad, in association with the Government of Finland and earned him a study visit to that country in October last year.

The school is located on a hilly terrain in Gunadala and it is not uncommon to see primary students sitting on benches under trees making flowers with paper.

Teachers here don’t use textbooks for teaching, says Vamsi Konda an alumni. “Geometry was all about making shapes of hexagon and polygon with colour papers and calculating the area,” he recalls. He remembers how they organised a Rythu Bazar where the students had to take on the role of the shopkeepers and buyers. “We learned from real-life examples. We were given bills and posters with discount offers in the exams,” smiles Vamsi, who is now studying Interior Architecture Design at the Indian Institute of Art and Design in New Delhi.

Principal Krishna points to his table and says it was designed by the high school students. He reiterates how crafts, painting, tinkering, puppetry, pottery, weaving, carpentry, cooking, etc., are a part of the curriculum for children from LKG till std. 5. “ These activities build confidence in the children and empowers them to make decisions, ” he says.

Ex students Virajita and Adil Akram Shaik also followed their passion instilled in them while they were at this school. Adil is studying Development Studies from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Hyderabad, while Virajita has embarked on a journey to know about various dance forms of the country. “In the last days of my school, I spent more time learning dance than studying in the classroom . This wouldn’t be allowed in any other school. Students here are encouraged to pursue their dreams and nurture their talent,” says Virajita who is currently learning Bharatnatyam in Kerala.

While convincing parents about this kind of ‘constructive education’ was a mammoth task, the initial opposition and high dropout rate diminished once they realised the benefits of a creative education, says Krishna. The school’s current strength is 240. Krishna took over the reins of the school from its founder K. Jyotsna in 2013 along with her husband C. Raghavachari, a noted journalist who died recently. They set up a trust Deepa Charitable Trust that runs the school.

Wholesome education

Wholesome education is the focus of Vikasa Vidya Vanam (VVV).

Students are not given homework, nor do they lug heavy bags. There is no uniform or textbooks for them and education is not just about passing exams. “Confining children to books stunts their growth and imagination,” says S. R. Parimi, secretary of Vikasa Educational Trust that runs the primary school at Porankhi. The high school, Living Vikasa Vidya Vanam (LVVV) is at Adivi Nekkalam.

“A child must engage with the community, explore Nature and learn to be inquisitive,” says the educationalist, who started the Trust in 1982, along with six friends who were alarmed at “abuses endured by children because of unhealthy educational practices.”

Children here also are encouraged to learn cooking, farming, art, craft, dance, drama, pottery, etc. In the primary section, teachers follow the framework of Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing (LSRW), and introduce children to a language in that order.

Kindergarten children have stories read out to them. “Learning a language comes naturally to children, like walking or running. We have seen what happens when this is not followed,” says Parimi, referring to the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) that shows how a class VIII student cannot read a class III English textbook.

The VVV, built in 1983, earlier had classes till 10th grade. But Parimi felt the need to take children away from the growing influence of gadgets and other distractions and built a residential school in 2012 at Adavi Nekkalam, 30 km from Vijayawada amidst nature.

The school campus, spread across 24 acres, includes living quarters for teachers and a hostel for students. “This also enables student-teacher interaction. As part of community work, they clean the surroundings, classrooms and the toilets,” explains Parimi. The strength of the high school is all of 78 . “The low number is our strength. We may be a drop in the ocean as we can’t transform the entire society. But we want to show people that this method of education works,” he says emphatically.

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Printable version | Apr 21, 2021 5:07:31 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/education/schools/lessons-in-life/article30766443.ece

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