In what is claimed to be a first in the country, a government school here has been equipped with a robotic lab – with a smart class on the way – to go beyond the routine curriculum and spark the interest of generation next in the Make in India and Skill India initiatives.
“With our Robo Siksha Kendra initiative, we are not only developing robotics knowledge but focussing on 21st century skills and providing opportunities to access contemporary educational tools,” Sudhanshu Sharma, founder of the India Stem Foundation that has equipped the Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya with the robo lab, told IANS.
A robo lab enables students design, operate and apply robots as well as computer systems for their control, sensory feedback, and information processing. They cost Rs.10-12 lakhs and are only now making a beginning in a few private schools.
So, how did the Gurgaon school come to be chosen?
“The Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas are a unique concept under the ministry of human resource development specifically to find talented children in rural areas of India and provide them with an education equivalent to the best residential school system. We chose this school as a CSR initiative as it falls in our catchment area,” Sharma explained.
Not surprisingly, the lab will make you think you are in an upscale private school but the major difference is that the school doesn’t charge any fees for academics and boarding and lodging.
The experience will soon be enhanced with a Smart Class funded by Samsung electronics.
The NGO is planning to replicate the initiative in four more government schools to provide deprived and underprivileged children access to fun-centric learning experience beyond their traditional four walls and acquire hands-on learning experience to face the challenges of daily life.
“Such an initiative has never been taken before in India,” Sharma added.
Along with the robo lab, the NGO is also providing training to the teachers, who, in turn will take the process forward. It will also look after the maintenance and
School principal Suman Negi is pleased as punch.
“I am grateful to have the chance to mentor and make my students learn with these gadgets while having fun at the same time,” Negi told IANS.
“These kids get to work together as a team, and get to design and execute solutions to complicated problems. Robotics is fulfilling, as I believe the most fulfilling toy is the one that you build yourself,” Negi added.
Belonging to lower middle-class families, these children may not be in hi-tech and expensive schools and have easy access to gadgets, but they are no less comfortable with technology. Besides, they have the right ideas for their use, Negi said.
In September, children from the school participated in Indian Robotic Olympiad (IRO) where they did not win any trophies but won the hearts of the audience with good scores that inspired them to again participate next year.
“This time, our robot performed only one task. Other robots did more than ours. Our participation prepared us for the next year’s competition, for which we have already started working hard,” said a bright-eyed Dikshit Yadav, a class 9 student.
“We have the best students in our district from rural areas and our vision is to create the best of facilities for them,” Gurgaon Deputy Commissioner T.L. Satyaprakash, the chairman of the school, told IANS.
“Our efforts are well-aligned with the prime minister’s visions of Make in India and Skill India. Such initiatives are the way to equip our youth with the necessary skill sets and prepare them for the jobs of tomorrow,” he added.