Education in India is a matter of great concern. Before Independance the best brains came from the Government run schools but not so anymore. India was ranked second from the bottom among 73 countries in Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) competition in 2012. Unfortunately this was not well received by India and its methodology was criticised. Rote learning is the rule in the schools. The government schools focuses on classrooms, toilets and midday meals and not on learning outcomes.
Experiments are afoot to change the system. Agastya International Foundation’s Campus Creativity Lab in a rural area in Kuppam district in Andhra Pradesh sees a paradigm shift in learning fundamentals. From ‘why’ to ‘learning to observe’ to ‘exploration’ to ‘hands on’ to ‘ confidence’. Two of its schoolgirls while sitting under a Peepal tree made them wonder why it felt cooler there and whether different leaves produced different levels of cooling. This soon developed into a project and also won them the Intel-IRIS science prize at a national level. Another girl innovated gloves with padding and aeration for labourers who are likely to get sores on their hands while working.
Agastya’s success model rests on many factors. It has 200 mobile laboratories for village children to conduct science experiments using best of equipments. It runs 70 different science centres and conducts night schools in 540 villages. It trains children with talent for teaching to teach other children. Seven states are sending their teachers to Agastya for training. Foreign delegations visit to see what they can take back from it. India desperately needs more such institutes to help millions of young minds reach its utmost potential which would otherwise be wasted in dysfunctional government schools.