Need for creative learning experiences
The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009 looks into making education more accessible but not much attention is payed to the learning environments. 8 climatic types, 11.7 crore rural children, 75 years since freedom still a dark dingy morose school template being dogmatically replicated over 29 uniquely diverse Indian States.
Rote learning methodology adopted from an outdated curriculum combined with the dingy learning spaces has not been a recipe for success. Neither are the youth getting trained for real life skills that would be relevant to create jobs, nor is the environment of the schools refreshing to retrieve the information provided.
The Attendance Playgrounds
Two dark, boxy classrooms; one of which non-operational, a compound and a flag post are often collectively called as “primary schools”. in rural India. The compound sure is spacious, but all the children can do is glide on the soil. It is not the most tragic scene, but not happy enough to motivate them to be regular at school.
Children in the villages are often found running with the tyres, climbing the trees, playing chauka-bara, but none of this requires the venue to be the school, their village alleys are enough. Maria Montessori said, “Play is the work of the child”, indeed, it’s very serious stuff. So we did just that, used “play” like our trump card to fight the rising problem of absenteeism in village schools.
Conventional rides like slides, see-saws and swings are connected using obstacle-courses that allow multiple entry-exit points to the playgrounds, creating magnified versions of the modern jungle gyms. Concepts like Open Ended Play are introduced through these playgrounds to allow the child to think for themselves and explore the playground in their own way, enabling imagination and creativity.
The introduction of over 12 playgrounds in various village school compounds of Maharashtra and Karnataka observed an increase in attendance in the schools simply to get access to these play experiences.