The Museum School

(Website)                                                                                                                                                   (A Journey........)

QUALITY EDUCATION for URBAN Underprivileged children

There is one word in English that has always raised eyebrows, opened mouths, and has sparked off debates among both the educated and the un-educated class in the country. The word is “EDUCATION”. Whether people understand the true meaning of the word or not, they have always had their own viewpoints about its implementation in the country. An utterance of the word itself makes people start reflecting on the past and dreaming the future, both at the same time.

Today’s education system has become a rote-learning manufactory designed for grinding out uniform results without any understanding and popping out degrees and certificates like popcorn. A mouthful does not get you anything, a handful is not sufficient. To top it all, it is the exorbitant costs that make higher education unaffordable for the vulnerable poor.

The Government has been trying everything to fulfil the basic educational needs of children in the form of free textbooks and uniforms, bicycles and even mid-day meals to protect them from malnutrition. But the children have still remained elusive from the current education pattern for fear of examinations, failures and many other factors. Education to many in the rural areas and urban slums is only a second priority after work and play.

The very concept of making education as attractive as a movie, and the school as attractive as a playground, lags far behind. Scores of successful experiments on fun based learning models have remained limited to small groups, and on-the-job work based education has not been recognised by the Government.

It is not freebies but the assurance of a job or work that can attract children to education. Theoretical education is considered a waste of time that leads you to nowhere, by many in rural areas and urban slums. The faith on the education system to be able to provide jobs is dwindling.

Education is considered the foundation of the country and every individual has a fundamental right to quality education. Yet there is a huge disparity in the quality of education of a rich child and a poor child in the same city. If there is a disparity in the foundation itself, how can we dare to dream of equality in our country?

In the same city, while a rich child gets the best infrastructure, best teaching aids and 5 Teachers (B.Ed) for one class in a private school, a poor child gets minimal infrastructure, almost no teaching aids and 1 Teacher (Non B.Ed) for five classes in a municipal school. The Government always cries about lack of funds and resources, but keeps spreading its education infrastructure into every nook and corner of the city, without thinking how it would maintain its quality.

Organization for Awareness of Integrated Social Security (OASiS), a non-Government social organisation in Bhopal, MP, embarked upon a mission to remove this disparity in quality of education in urban areas, identify and collaborate with different learning centres, and educate the school runaways, dropouts and the never-been-to-school ones, from the economically and academically deprived society to groom them as independent and responsible citizens.
The new education pattern is based on the learning from a study conducted by OASiS on established experiments in Education like Guru Rabindranath Tagore’s Shantiniketan (WB), and Aurobindo Ashram’s International Centre of Education (Pondicherry) and The Japanese system of Education. OASiS has combined the best practices of all these models to design its project “PARVARISH” that provides wholistic education and grooming of a complete, independent and responsible citizen.

OASiS found that the museums in a city provide the best learning atmosphere and the exhibits and working models help in learning practically without any books or references. No teaching aids in any school can ever match the quality of the exhibits of the Museums. Yet the exhibits are not used as teaching aids by anyone.

The Museum School approach designed by OASiS, identifies Museums in the city and collaborates with them to make them the school for the children, uses the exhibits and working models in the museums as teaching aids and collaborates with colleges conducting B.Ed courses for practice teaching by B.Ed students. The children of The Museum School come to the Museums (their school) everyday by school bus (just like other privileged children), and are taught by the B.Ed students through the exhibits of the Museums according to the curriculum. Thus the model provides poor children with the best school infrastructure already set up by the Government (The Museums), the best teaching aids (Exhibits and working models in Museums), and the best teachers (B.Ed students doing practice teaching) and removes the disparity in quality of education without any further investment.

The model follows a curriculum designed to provide wholistic education starting from behavioural changes to literacy, to academics, physical and adolescence education, and finally ending with vocational skills and entrepreneurship development. While the children are mainstreamed through the National Open School for examination and certification, the objective is to make them self-employable, confident, responsible and independent in society. 

The Museum School has been running successfully in Bhopal, MP, India since September 2005 in collaboration with 5 Museums: Regional Science Centre, National Museum of Mankind, State Archaeology Museum, State Tribal Museum, and Regional Museum of Natural History. Educating 200 children from 8 slums of Bhopal, The Museum School is adding feathers to its cap every year, as its students cross milestones. 2 students of The Museum School, Bhopal are pursuing Engineering (BE) now.

The Museum School Bangalore was launched on April 21, 2012, by our Partner 'CHILD EMPOWERMENT FOUNDATION INDIA' in collaboration with Vishwesariya Technology and Industrial Museum. In Mumbai Prince of Wales Museum, Nehru Science Centre and Maharashtra Nature Park have agreed to become a part of the project. In Delhi 5 Museums: National Science Centre, National Museum of Natural History, National Crafts Museum, National Rail Museum and Shankar’s International Doll Museum have already expressed their interest and acceptance, whereas in Chennai 3 Museums: Birla Planetarium, Government Museum Egmore and Dakshinachitra have accepted the project. Citizen Groups / NGOs willing to implement the model in these cities are welcome.

OASiS is looking for suitable partners who would like to replicate ‘The Museum School’ in their cities.

Through this model, we are trying to show the Government that the urban poor can also be given the same quality of education as that for the urban rich, by just making optimum and effective utilization of its existing infrastructure (The Museums) at practically the same or maybe lesser cost that the Government today incurs on urban education.