Successful learners are rarely self-made. Behind each of them is a collaboration of methods aiding in the communication of the idea. Collaborative initiatives have a global presence, but in India, they are rare. Blame it on reasons including financial crunch.
But Meppadi grama panchayat in Wayanad district begs to differ. It has set a model in establishing collaborative classrooms. For this, it has depended on none, and utilised its own fund. The panchayat has set up such classrooms in four government Lower Primary schools at Mundakkai, Chulikka, Kottanad and Meppadi at a cost of ₹20 lakh. The new learners will be welcomed during the current academic year.
“Though the Right to Education Act has been enacted in the country and schools in the State are following modern syllabus, school buildings are yet to turn into learning aids. But here, we are developing the school’s entire physical environment as a learning aid – the inside, the outside, the semi-open spaces, etc. At the core, it is about maximising the educational value of a built space,” says K.K. Sahad, president, Meppadi grama panchayat.
The school spaces, including classrooms, outdoors, floor, wall, ceiling, door, windows, and furniture, learning situations and materials could be innovatively used as an active learning resource, says Muhammed Basheer, vice chairman, education working group of the grama panchayat. This could complement the teaching process, he adds. In collaborative classrooms, students achieve more while feeling safer and while developing a strong sense of community. Teachers are more prepared, less stressed, and more confident, he says.
Collaborative learning benefits students enormously as against traditional instruction because a group — whether it be the whole class or a learning group within the class — could accomplish meaningful learning and solve problems better than any individual could alone achieve, he says.
Each classrooms is set up with learning-friendly furniture with a capacity to accommodate 30 students. Modern facilities such as laptops, digital projectors, interactive digital whiteboards, green boards for students activities, collar mic and speaker are also set up in each classes. The classrooms are decorated with spiral murals.
The panchayat is preparing a comprehensive syllabus for the schools under the local body. The classrooms are designed by Dani Paul, an Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) trainer from Ernakulam, and the project was supervised by T.P. Kaladharan, an educationalist and State consultant, SSA.