Atal Tinkering Lab: A Dream Comes True For These Tribal Students.
This School in Odisha is a home to almost 500 children, most of them belonging to the tribal community. It is mesmerizing to see them together during the morning and evening prayers of the School in the beautiful lush green School’s precincts surrounded by the splendid views of Eastern Ghats Mountains. Situated at a distance of around 15 km from the city of Berhampur in Odisha, this School focuses on the overall development of the students studying there. From different kinds of sports, to weightlifting, to all sorts of cultural activities, this School doesn’t believe only in Classroom lectures. Gram Vikas Residential School, Kankia, falling under Ganjam district of Odisha, is one of the four Schools run by the internationally acclaimed Grass root NGO named ‘Gram Vikas’ headquartered in Odisha. The School was recently appreciated and felicitated by the education department of the State Government for achieving 100% results in the Matriculation examinations previous year, though it has a history of procuring 100% results many more times since its inception.
Established in the year 1982, this School has played a pivotal role in bringing the most marginalized section of the society, a step closer to literacy and education. More than education itself, it has helped them to understand the importance of education and this has been its real victory in my opinion. It has produced a hunger for education in them who had been deprived of it since ages. The students of the School have earned many accolades on district, state and national levels, in the fields of sports, arts, weightlifting etc.
Most recently, it has been selected for the ‘Atal Tinkering Lab’ under the ‘Atal Innovation Mission’ of Niti Aayog, Government of India. This is not an ordinary success for the School. For a School working in the rural landscape of Odisha hosting mostly tribal children, to be qualified and get selected for as prestigious a program as ‘Atal Tinkering Lab’ by Niti Aayog, is certainly a notable achievement.
This has become possible because of the incessant hard-work of an ex SBI Youth for India fellow, named Samir Kumar Mishra, who has been entrusted with the responsibility of acting as a STEM Coordinator for all the four Schools of Gram Vikas. He had indeed tried hard to get this School qualified and selected for the establishment of ‘Atal Tinkering Lab’. In the process, he got full assistance and cooperation of the School’s principal Mr. Debendranath Dash.
This achievement becomes noticeable in the wake of facts that the total number of Schools that had submitted applications from all over the Country to be considered and selected for the ‘Atal Tinkering Lab’ were as big in numbers as 13,244. Out of this, 1500 Schools have been finally selected. Its result was declared on December 25, 2017, a date dedicated to the birthday of former Prime Minister of India, Atal Bihari Vajpayee. This program has been named after him only.
From the state of Odisha itself, the total number of Schools applying for the programs were 720, but only 90 out of them could make to the list in the end. In Ganjam district alone where Gram Vikas Residential School situates, only three Schools have been selected for the purpose.
Under this scheme, the School has been granted a fund of Rs.20 lacs for a period of five years and an initial allocation of Rs.12 lacs has already been made for the purpose. With the help of this money allocated by the Niti Aayog, this School shall establish an ‘Atal Tinkering Lab’ that shall foster curiosity, creativity and imagination in young minds; and inculcate skills such as design mind-set, computational thinking, adaptive learning, physical computing etc.
This is indeed a great achievement for this School in particular as it shall enable the students from the most marginalized sections of the society, including the students from the tribal communities, who are mostly first generation learners to not just understand the concepts of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) in the Classrooms but to feel and experience it by themselves.
There is a popular proverb that what eyes can’t see, the mind cannot believe. This is true for learning the concepts of ‘STEM’ as well. The establishment of an ‘Atal Tinkering Lab’ in this School shall make its learning easy for the Students and invigorate them to be of scientific temperament and investigating mind-sets.
‘Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution’ – said, Albert Einstein, one of the greatest Scientists that this planet ever produced.
Imagination makes a mind more creative and investigative. A creative and investigative mind is essential to the learning of Science. Science is more about experiencing things and experimenting ideas than merely have class lectures on the theoretical concepts of the different dimensions of the subjects. Merely bookish knowledge in Science barely helps. Therefore, the establishment of ‘Atal Tinkering Lab’ shall provide a great opportunity for these tribal students to experience the wonder of STEM through practical experiments. In this way, ‘Atal Innovation Mission’, a flagship program of the Niti Aayog has proved to be a boon for these children. It’s like a dream coming true.
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