Imagine a school where children can scribble on the walls in the classroom, where windows are styled with numerical and its sills with abacus beads, where buildings have additional fittings to play hide-and-seek and there are tree-huts in the garden.
Not an Utopian theory, but one of the hundreds of ideas generated at the Building as Learning Aid (BaLA), a concept being popularised by Ministry of Human Resources department (MHRD) through Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA). If things shape up, 14 schools - one in each district of the state - would shift to the new concept this academic year itself.
“The Kerala SSA has decided to adopt the concept in 1,086 schools in a steady manner. All 14 schools piloting the project have been allotted `1 lakh each. BaLA is not an expensive concept; instead it asks for exploring the spaces in schools from a new angle,” said SSA State Project Officer K M Ramanandan.
While many schools in the state have been adopting a ‘new look’ in the last couple of years with bright- coloured walls filled with alphabets and cartoon figures and beautifully done-up gardens, no wholehearted effort has so far been taken to implement the concept in its entirety. Except, of course, the Government LPS Ponnad, Alappuzha, which is the only school in the entire state to have embraced the BaLA concept in toto.
“People think BaLA is about painting the school walls red or green. It is not. When repairing a school, how can you convert the floor, windows, doors, corridors and any available space to learning materials for kids; that’s what the concept explores. Gujarat has carried it out with substantial quality while some states have more schools flaunting it, without grasping the central idea,” Kabir Vajpeyi told Express from Delhi. He is now exploring the theme to suit the needs of special children. Kabir’s firm VINYAS had first introduced the idea in the rural schools in Rajasthan some 15 years ago.
It was in the latter part of 2006 that MHRD saw the merit in the concept and began promoting it. The majority of states in India have recognised the concept.