KOCHI: Despite huge potential, education in India has been averse to change. Though massive investment was made in exploring digital technology to transform educational practices, not much effort has been made to bring qualitative change in education.
Three teachers from Kerala, who tread the road not taken, tried to bring innovation to enhance the learning skills and turned change agents have been selected for the National Teacher’s award.
SL Faisal, a librarian at Kendriya Vidyalaya at Pattom in Thiruvananthapuram was selected for the coveted award for redesigning the concept of the school library to support innovative learning and help students acquire skills. Prasad M Bhaskaran, a teacher at the government LP school at Varavoor in Thrissur district used his students as agents of change to inspire the village community to return to agrarian life.
Mathew K Thomas, a social science teacher at the Sainik School at Kazhakoottam in Thiruvananthapuram, took his students on a cycle expedition across the state for cultural integration and help them socialise with their peers.
Faisal S L
A first rank holder in MLISc, Faisal SL joined the Kendriya Vidyalaya at Baramulla in Jammu and Kashmir as a librarian in 2003. With a vision to help students acquire knowledge by engaging with library resources. He transformed the school library into a learning space making learning more flexible and bring a positive impact on student achievement. He was transferred to Pattom Kendriya Vidyalaya in 2007.
Faisal was the first one in the country to launch a school library blog in 2007. He developed an online academic social network, ‘Library Junction’ in 2010 to support collaborative learning and knowledge sharing in a moderated and safe environment An ‘E-Reading Hub’ with 10 e-readers was established in the library in 2014 to promote e-reading. Faisal also developed an online library junction in 2010 and opened a virtual library and an audio library in 2020.
The latest innovation was a library on smartphones launched in 2021. Faisal had launched the 'Gift a Book' and 'Get a Friend' programme in 2013 as an attempt to create social responsibility among the students, As part of the programme, students of KV Pattom visited government schools in Thiruvananthapuram district, socialised with students hailing from marginalised sections of society and gifted books to them. The movement has covered 7 schools till 2021 and has gifted 4000 books.
Faisal was selected for the National ICT Award for Teachers in 2017. The ICT interventions carried out by him made the school win the KVS-Intel Integration of Technology in Schools Award. The ICT project, ‘Library Junction’ won two National Awards by NCERT and KVS for Innovative Practices and Experiments in 2011. He was honoured with the IASL International Excellence Award for School Librarianship in2012.
Prasad M Bhaskaran
As headmaster of Government LP School at Varavoor panchayat in Thrissur district, Prasad M Bhaskaran created awareness among the children to return to nature which inspired the village community to switch to organic farming. His social intervention earned the trust of the local residents and the student strength in the school rose steeply from 385 in 2017-18 to 895 in 2020-21.
Under his guidance teachers and students cultivated paddy, banana, and vegetables on the school compound which was later extended to barren land leased by PTA members. Many students, with the help of their parents, started growing vegetables on the sidewalk of their homes. seeds for cultivation were provided by the school.
He established a biodiversity park, a fish pond, zoo, and medicinal plant garden by availing a Rs 7 lakh loan from the bank. This inspired the villagers to live in harmony with nature.
Prasad formed 25 clubs in the school including the English club, science club, hygiene club, seed club, anti-drug club, biodiversity club, and palliative care club. A team from Russia had visited the school to study the extracurricular activities and innovative learning techniques. The school with the contribution of parents and teachers built homes for the poor and an institution for the blind. The school provides training in martial arts, yoga, and traditional art forms.
Mathew K Thomas
A native of Payyannur in Kannur district, Mathew K Thomas joined the Sainik School in 1995. An academician and a sportsperson, 1,150 cadets trained by him have joined officer cader of Armed forces. As many as 8 cadets trained by him were selected under the youth exchange programme to visit foreign countries. He led a 630 km cycle expedition from Thiruvananthapuram to Kasaragod to socialise the cadets in 2000 Under his coaching the school basketball team won the south zone championship twice. He established a stable and equestrian area where 200 cadets learned horse riding in 3 years. He had led a team of 150 cadets and 4 teachers for the display of a cultural pageant as part of the Republic Day parade in 1997. Mathew organises motivation classes at local schools to inspire youngsters to join the armed forces.