Learning Centre in the Andamans
By Mahira Kakajiwala, Sadaf Sethwala and Karishma Modi
Despite the loud discourse on the quality of education, a large number of school going children continue to rote learn their way through academia and are not independent readers or writers by the end of elementary school. As part of the “Islands of Wisdom” project, Dakshin Foundation and ANET, in collaboration with the Wipro Applying Thought in Schools (WATIS) initiative is developing a holistic approach to education in order to strengthen foundational learning.
Designed as an after-school programme for students of Classes 3, 4 and 5, the intervention focuses on language, comprehension and expression skills using innovative teaching and learning methods. Employing learning-level-appropriate, contextualised, and hands-on activities, students are encouraged to explore concepts individually and in a manner that cuts across traditional subject boundaries. This approach helps support differentiated learning given the learner diversity in the class and further our overall aim to create an environment which stimulates the child not just intellectually, but also socially and emotionally. By creating a space of free expression and experimentation we support a child’s natural way of learning and encourage him/her to be an active part of the learning process.
The methodologies employed and the principals followed aim to develop independent thinkers and curious learners with a strong sense of appreciation for the environment. To this end, the content used at our centre is developed in-house and through studying the work of organisations with similar goals (Vikramshila Education Resource Centre and Jodo Gyan)
The centre, operational since November 2017, is being developed in close collaboration with the schools in the area and with the support of the local panchayat. Since the beginning of our programme, we have been using spaces that have been generously opened up for local students, by the Panchayat and a local Middle School. Each space, however, has come with its own constraints, the largest being their limitations in terms of creating an environment which would facilitate an active and natural engagement with the print form.
While the programme currently operates out of the Wandoor Community Centre, from 2.30 pm to 4.00 pm, 3 days a week, and sees an average of 12 students per class, we are currently actively looking out for a permanent space for the Learning Centre that will, for the foreseeable future, serve as a space dedicated to the learning programme and the library.
Landmarks in the past year:
Core team: We now have a core-team of 3 people on the ground, including a 2nd generation ANET employee from the local village! Moumita, who works closely with Karishma and Sadaf, joins us after having worked with many of the students from the village, that come to the centre, from her home for the last 4 years.
A local library: Working with the children of the community, we realised the need for children to have access to resources outside of school and the learning centre. A small, bi-weekly library equipped with books in English, Hindi and Bengali was started by the team in April 2018. With an aim to help inculcate a habit of reading amongst the children, we offer the students storytelling sessions while also encouraging group and individual reading time. The library sees up to 18 students across grades 1 to 8 attending on a regular basis.