Dr Shrikant Jichkar Foundation’s youth volunteer network Zero gravity’s “The Happy School Project” gets implemented successfully yet again. The efforts put by the members in this voluntary government school makeover project are already being appreciated in town. The project aims at enhancing the learning experience of students through visual imagery by implementing the concept of Building as Learning Aid (BaLA).
When asked about the rudimentary idea behind the project, one of the members informed, “BaLA is about developing the school’s entire physical environment as a learning aid – the inside, the outside, the semi-open spaces – everywhere. At the core, it is about maximizing the educational ‘value’ of a built space. It is based on ‘how children learn’. So we designed a project around this where we adopt a government school for its implementation, we then work out on the design concepts mentioned in the BaLA plan and we turn this as platform for people to volunteer and help us in giving an educational make over to the school building.”
It was further informed that, the research undertaken before the initiation of the project revealed that though the government schools provided basic amenities, their conditions were not up to the mark. Also, the school environment did little to provide the students with willingness, motivation and interest in learning. Therefore, this project is an endeavor to make the school buildings and other facilities a unique learning platform for students by creating curriculum based and relatable imagery on them at a low cost. Each component of the school is somehow conceived in isolation, with little consideration about what the child is finally going to experience as a whole. This work is about making the building components active facilitator in the whole process of teaching-learning (which is the primary function of the school) for children and teachers (who are the primary users).
Such initiatives that add to the overall development of the society are vital. Through this project implemented by the ZG members, people of Nagpur have come across an innovative way to conceive and use the various building components like the floor, wall, door, window or even spaces like corridor and open space in such a way that it also helps children and teachers in the process of teaching—learning apart from serving their usual function. Thus, in a school which has been conceived like this, a floor may no longer be just a floor, but a way to understand fractions, or window might become more than a usual window and let a child prepare for skills in writing Hindi alphabets, or a sensitively designed corridor could help children to correctly estimate distances.
In conclusion, the ZG members excerpted, “Our motive is to promote this ideas as far as possible and grow the concept of community involvement in such endevours.”