The paradox of the government school system in Andhra Pradesh is about availability of physical infrastructure and qualified human resources, but absence of crucial links that are essential to enable the students to learn. This is more so in Mahabubnagar district, which consistently records low educational attainment, as observed from the low ‘pass percentages’ in annual school leaving examination and other primary education surveys done periodically.
Because of the thrust given by the government under the Sarva Siksha Abhiyan and other school education programs, most of the government schools have adequate ‘hardware’ in terms of buildings, teaching aids, furniture, books and teachers. However, because of poor planning, lack of drive among the teachers, and weak School Management Committees, the students do not get to use the teaching aids (such as laboratory equipment, computers, maps and charts) to augment their learning. Since most of these students hail from impoverished backgrounds with illiterate/semi-literate parents, they have no other support system at home. As a result, they cannot relate the ‘theory’ being taught from text-books to ‘practical’ in real life. In some schools, even if the teachers are interested in utilizing the available aids, unfortunately they do not have funds for purchasing consumables (such as chemicals, reagents etc.) required for conducting basic experiments in physics, chemistry and biological sciences.
Since their fundamentals in science are poor, even talented students from government Telugu-medium schools are not able to pursue their college education in the science-stream, thereby they are deprived of careers in science and technology in the long run. Instead, they are forced to seek and settle down in meaningless petty jobs.
Vandemataram Foundation has been running a small program, Shodhana, aimed at strengthening learning of science in rural government Telugu medium schools in Mahabubnagar district to overcome the problem discussed above. Under this program, we deploy a team of science graduates equipped with the required materials to go around the schools (as per a pre-determined schedule) and conduct/demonstrate experiments in science to the students, to complement the theoretical curriculum covered by the teachers in those schools. This program, presently being run with the consent of the Head Masters of these schools has been a huge success, as seen from the enthusiastic response of the students and teachers. We intend to continue this program, as well as extend this to more number of schools, till such time when the school managements try and secure their own resources to conduct the science experiments on their own.