On Aug. 6, the Model Districts Education Project in India achieved a breakthrough when Tarun Gogoi, the chief minister of the State of Assam, joined the project team to launch its flagship initiative entitled “School as a Way of Life.” The event was attended by Jorhat district officials from the Education Department in Guwahati along with many schoolchildren, teachers and parents.
Led by Nirupam Bajpai, special advisor to the executive vice president for global centers and global development, Columbia University, the initiative is bringing different governmental departments together to deal with the challenges of early childhood education and the issues of health and hygiene that so often prevent it. Through a set of comprehensive interventions, the initiative will work to improve teaching and learning outcomes in public primary schools in rural Assam. These interventions include the introduction of an alternate pedagogy of multi-grade multi-level teaching, physical education such as yoga, and a nutritious breakfast program.
On the infrastructure side there will be introduction of functional toilets (separate for girls), construction of boundary walls and development of small gardens and kitchen gardens on the school premises. Both the classroom and infrastructural interventions aim to make the schools safe and gender sensitive spaces. These interventions will help in creating a healthy and sustainable learning environment in Assam’s public primary schools.
The Model Districts Education Project is housed at the Columbia Global Centers | South Asia and is a multi-year, policy-oriented research and advisory project funded by the IKEA Foundation that currently operates in two states of India. Besides Dr. Bajpai, the project’s Assam Team comprises Seema Nath, Chandana Kakati and Nareswar Saikia. For more details, visit the project site here.
The IKEA Foundation is a corporate philanthropic foundation that works with strong strategic partners to achieve large scale results by addressing four fundamentals in children’s lives – a place to call home, a healthy start in life, a quality education and a sustainable family income – whilst applying innovative solutions to accelerate development. For more information on the IKEA Foundation, visit the website.