The state government and UNICEF have collaborated to create a virtual revolution in education in Mysore district.
The walls are hung with colourful charts and craftwork. Children of different ages are sitting in groups. A child mimics birdcalls. This is a classroom in a government school. And today’s lesson is about ‘Environment’. But there is no ‘teacher’ here; only a ‘facilitator’. And that is not just a meaningless change of nomenclature.
Government schools normally shy away from any change in modes of teaching or learning. Nali-Kali is an exception, having created a veritable revolution in classroom transactions. Nali-Kali or ‘joyful learning’ was started as an experiment in classroom transaction, spearheaded by the teachers themselves.
It all began ! in Heggada Devana Kote taluka in Mysore. UNICEF had prepared a micro-plan, which included a survey of in-school and out-of-school children in the taluka, a primarily SC/ST constituency. In 1995, M N Baig, Education Officer in Mysore district, along with UNICEF and the Commissioner of Public Instruction, decided to revive the micro-plan and look into activity-based learning. They held a meeting with schoolteachers in the taluka.
The local teachers isolated some problems that they could tackle themselves. These included absenteeism of children involved in farm labour, unattractive curricula and teaching methods, lack of support at home and urban bias in textbooks.
The pre-training session, consisting of 35 teachers, resource persons and other officials, laid down outlines for classroom transactions, teaching-learning materials, etc. Learners’ problems, especially those of first-generation learners, were di! scussed, the minimum level of learning scrutinised and changes suggested. The learning load was reduced to a realistic and achievable level. Language, mathematics and environmental studies were to be taught through art, craft, song, dance and other activity-oriented methods.
Nali-Kali envisions the breaking down of the traditional hierarchy that exists between teacher and student. This orientation is introduced at the level of training of the teachers itself. All the teaching-learning materials are handmade by the teachers and hands-on experimentation is encouraged.
In the first year, 1995, 257 teachers from HD Kote were trained. This number rose to 322 in 1999. It is operational in all but one block in Mysore district. In addition, five blocks across the state are also covered.
Nali-Kali has managed to penetrate the villages in unprecedented ways. In Madanpura, the private school had t! o close down because most of the students sought a transfer to the government school. And even the farmers are heard humming the action songs that are taught in the school.
Contact: District Deputy Project Co-ordinator
DPEP District Project Office
BM Road, Mysore 570 007
Tel. 91-821-496 686