Sunday, April 27, 2014

Education has to go beyond textbooks, experts say

What is written in textbooks can only lend to bookish knowledge. For holistic learning and sensitisation at an early age, educational institutions should go beyond classrooms, experts say. 

In a panel discussion here Thursday on "Education: What's Going on in the Classroom (or not)?", experts from diverse fields deliberated on the need to engage students in healthy debates and discussions on varied topics ranging from sex education, sexual violence and emotional quotient. 

Referring to a recent incident in the capital where a class 6 student was bullied by a group of schoolmates, Manika Sharma emphasised on the need to aim at holistic learning for overall development of a child. 

"As a teacher community, we always wonder what is plaguing the society. This is why we believe education has to go beyond schools and not restrict itself to reading," Sharma, director of the Shri Ram School, said at the conference "The Catalyst Conference: Igniting Leadership to End Sexual Violence". 

"We (our school) has been addressing this issue for many years because we believe society can better when educational institutes contribute. 

"We show movies, documentaries, have discussions and sessions with counsellors for our students," she said, adding these methods contribute in the overall development of a child. 

While many private institutions have adapted these new ways of teaching, Rukmini Banerji, director of Pratham - an NGO working towards providing quality education to the underprivileged children said 85 per cent of the children in India still go to government schools. 

"Government schools are not dealing with these subjects that can educate children about sex education, gender equality and leadership. Hence, we are not tackling the issue," Banerji said. 

"These teachers may be willing to touch upon these topics and discuss them with children, but at the policy level these school teachers are not given the opportunity," she added. 

Banerji also felt the need to take parents along with children on this ride. 

"We have realised that for most of these children studying in government schools, their parents have never been to school themselves. So, to empower children, we need to create a balance by educating parents as well," she said.

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