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  • Arati Nagaraj (ISC ‘88)

Visit to the Rural Education Center @RVS (November 19, 2017)

After morning assembly and tea/ lime juice break, a group of us walked down the path behind the audi to head towards the Rural Education Center (REC). We were alumni from multiple batches who were being led by Rajesh and Kumaraswamy Sir to visit this magical place for children from the surrounding villages of Rishi Valley.

We walked towards the newest building, a preschool classroom, designed by Maya Herzberger (ISC 1988) and generously donated by University of Regensburg in Germany, which had a multi-age innovative classroom. Children engaged, collaborating and happy around multiple tables doing individual work, learning from each other or doing a small group project - personalized learning at it’s best! The “teacher” (who actually is a guide and facilitator) monitors each child's’ progress in a very simple way - each child has a section of the chalkboard assigned to them and updates their progress on it, the teacher reviews and provides feedback - no complicated tech required! The students are empowered to learn at their pace and modality. This is a true recipe for success.

The Rishi Valley Rural Education Centre (REC) comprises - 12 Primary Schools in and around the Rishi Valley School campus and nearby villages, a residential Middle School for children from the neighbourhood and RiVER (Rishi Valley Institute for Educational Resources) an organisation that looks at R&D in learning methodologies and outcomes. Subsidised by the Andhra Pradesh government and partnerships with other organizations, REC is a “learning center” - for children and adults.

The curriculum designed for the REC is “School in a box” which has a sequence of activities that children progress through. The simple visual cues let children know what’s next in the sequence, thus allowing them to learn at their own pace and allowing the teacher to work with children either individually or in groups.

This sequenced curriculum has been “digitized” and tablets have been provided to these classrooms for child and adult use. This has been a project by TIDE Learning, an initiative of Sandeep Menon (ISC 1990) and his team which included Chatura Padaki (ISC 1988). I was blown away to see how these children could seamlessly navigate this world of tech and learn at the same time. One little girl did not hesitate to use her fingers to count while using tech.

The REC also provides residential accommodation to approximately 80 children - the ones who live far away from the school. Dormitory-style accommodation for boys and girls (separately) provides a model for these children to learn about sharing, hygiene and personal management. Children are provided meals through the government funded mid-day meal program. The facility is also equipped with a library, AV center and staff room.

I came away feeling proud, inspired and grateful. Whenever you visit RV next, please do make an effort to visit this haven. With gratitude and appreciation to all the individuals involved in this effort.

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