Sumanti Sen is an English Literature graduate who believes "there's just one kind of folks. Folks.".
Picture a school where children are coding, developing fraud-proof voting machines, smart dustbins, drones or models to save 90 per cent water. The picture is not from an of a hyper-expensive private school but of Wablewadi Zilla Parishad School, 45 kilometres away from Pune run by Dattatray Ware. The school has come up with a unique tech-based educational model to help children channel their curiosity towards creating innovative technology by training then in artificial intelligence.
Dattatray Ware took charge of Wablewadi Zila Parishad as a headmaster in 2012 with 32 kids to look after, two classrooms and two teachers. Dattatray shares that it irked him that people did not think very highly of government schools. “I wanted to change that, and this became my life’s commitment,” Dattatray tells The Logical Indian.
Dattatray initially started to work on imparting practical education to the children. But implementing his vision on the ground was not easy. He started visiting the parents to make them aware of the need for infrastructural development in the school. His continuous outreach and commitment resulted in some farmers donating their land for the school expansion. Locals and parents offered their labour to renovate the school.
Dattatray’s model involved the introduction of artificial intelligence tools to learn robotics, animation, sound engineering, music, video editing, video recording, photography and much more. Such development needed string financial support. But the villagers’ contribution was not sufficient.
Dattatray being an Art of Living teacher, the International Association for Human Values (IAHV), a sister organisation of The Art of Living joined Ware in his initiative. To contribute to this vision of a progressive educational model, IAHV roped in BNY Mellon.
IAHV built eight zero energy classrooms equipped with solar energy and rainwater harvesting. They also provided high-end equipment from a sound engineering machine to tablets and laptops to artificial turf and tools for 3D animation and robotics.
“Now if these young talents want to become scientists, environment experts, social workers, photographers or robotic engineers, they can move ahead. Their backgrounds or where they live do come in the way of them getting a chance at making their future,” says Ware.
Vedant, a boy from class 6, developed a voting machine when his school announced an election. Another student, Siddhi, made a model which will save more than 90 per cent water because her village is going through the water crisis.
‘Project Avishkar’ is a program where the school’s primary focus is to explore and nurture a child’s creativity, critical and analytical skills. The team of teachers choose 10 models which included robotics, 3D animation, sound engineering, languages, arts, music and more. Children from 2nd to 9th grades made a group of 18 students with two kids from each standard.
Project Avishkar allowed the students to explore these models for two months under the supervision of the teachers in the school. After two months, the groups of teachers would identify the areas where a student can excel. The teachers would then focus on improving the student’s knowledge on the subject.
An important aspect of the project is its approach to education. Under this project, when children are confronted with a problem, for instance while developing a robotic model, they are encouraged to come up with multiple tentative solutions. Once they have shortlisted solutions, the children are asked to select a solution they think will best solve the problem.
Anup Yadav is a 24-year-old marine engineer who gave up a job offer of Rs. 70,000 a month to pursue his love for teaching to join the Wablewadi ZP school. “I was very good at studies and I come from a background where no one even passed class 10. My dad is a security supervisor and my mom has never been to school. My parents did everything to give me the best education possible”, Yadav tells The Logical Indian.
After studying engineering, Yadav went for his practical training and found out that the education that he received in school was outdated. “The textbooks are so outdated that the machines in our textbooks and the ones we see in real life are completely different”, he says.
That is when he felt the need to bring in a change to the education system. Anup believes that schools should shift their approach from conventional and textbook learning to a practical one. “We are doing injustice to a kids’ curiosity by restricting them to just textbook learning,” Yadav says.
Yadav started visiting many professionals and educationists after his college to develop a model which will impart practical education. During this time, he decided to quit his job and take up teaching as a profession. Yadav says, “Initially I wanted to do a job and earn lots of money, but now I want to do something for the children and to preserve their creativity.”
Visiting professionals and scientists, he realized the need of artificial intelligence in schools. That is when he, along with Dattatray, developed Project Avishkar.
Today Wablewadi Zilla Parishad School is one of the only schools in India where children from the tender age of nine years are well equipped with technology which is beyond the knowledge of MS Office and basic computer education. These children have the freedom to sit in any class, study any subject, learn any theory or practical topic, anywhere across the campus.
The children here are engaged continuously in practical education related to robotics, coding and programming, video editing, photography, sound engineering, sound recording, photo editing, motion graphics, 2D and 3Today Wablewadi Zilla Parishad School is one of the only schools in India where children from the tender age of nine years are well equipped with technology which is beyond the knowledge of MS Office and basic computer education. These children have the freedom to sit in any class, study any subject, learn any theory or practical topic, anywhere across the campus.
The children here are constantly engaged in practical education related to robotics, coding and programming, video editing, photography, sound engineering, sound recording, photo editing, motion graphics, 2D and 3D animation, 3D printing, solar energy generation systems, electronics and many other fields of studies.
This is the only campus where children are exposed to practical education in mathematics, which is why all of them love maths unlike many others of their age. The campus is well equipped with Wi-Fi and the latest systems to help children learn beyond their school walls.
On the occasion of Teachers’ Day, The Logical Indian appreciates Dattatray, Anup and all the other teachers who are working hard to bring a difference in the lives of their children.
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