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There are schools which have classes for students from age 3 to age 15.  They follow a specific study pattern prescribed by a specific School board.  Their main aim is to make the children literate.  This means a basic knowledge of language, science and few art subjects.  Then there are some other schools which are Alternative Learning spaces  in India.

Alternative Learning spaces of Ancient times

Well, in earlier days in India, children of a particular age were packed off to Gurukuls. These places not only taught the language, art and science subjects, but also some life skills equally important to make the student face the challenges of Life.

Modern Day Alternative Learning Spaces

Some individuals have experimented on this subject and set up few schools that are Alternative Learning spaces in India today.  Though they catch up with the Board study pattern at the senior 10th and 12th-grade levels, they are making a serious effort to impart other life skills before their students reach this stage.  Here are a few of them:

  1. Isha Homeschool Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu

This school is situated in the quaint Vellangiri Hills near Coimbatore.  The school has an atmosphere like a house.  The house parents are the teachers who teach in an informal manner. The curriculum is flexible and siblings learn from their seniors.  This school follows the ICSE Board when the children reach high school.

  1. Katha – Delhi and Arunachal Pradesh

This school uses the storytelling format for its “self- constructed curriculum” by the Vidunniya, the teaching fraternity.  It was founded in 1990 at Govindpur slums, Delhi with a batch of just 5 students.  Presently there are 71 schools with 8000 students that include even tribal kids from Arunachal Pradesh.

  1. SECMOL, Phey village, Ladakh
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secmol photoPhoto by Jace

Ladakh is situated in mountainous terrain.  Its secluded geography renders confusion and culture shocks to students when they are pulled into mainstream education.  Hence in 1988, a group of Young Ladakhi University students took up upon themselves close this gap through various reforms. SECMOL is the result of this effort.  At the SECMOL school students, staff and volunteers live and learn together in a friendly environment.  Ladhaki history and culture are part of the curriculum.  Children are encouraged to play ice skating, hockey and other such sports.  The school is completely powered by solar energy.

  1. Rishi Valley school, Andhra Pradesh

This is among the famous Alternative learning spaces in India established in 1926.  It is a residential school founded by Jiddu Krishnamurthy.  Emphasis is laid on arts, athletics, music and environmental appreciation.  Community service is an important part of education here.

  1. Night Schools – Barefoot College, Tilonia village, Ajmer, Rajasthan

This school was founded by Bunker Roy in Ajmer in 1979.  Bunker Roy is an Environmentalist and has been listed in the Time Magazine.  Poor Kids from rural areas are allowed to attend school after they have finished their domestic errands.  Here, creativity is encouraged to create solutions based on Mahatma Gandhi’s Philosophy and ideologies. Kinesthetic methods also called Tactile learning is used through the medium of songs and games to train kids in this School.  The school is powered by solar energy panels created by woman solar engineers.

Alternative learning spaces have scored more than regular schools because of few reasons.

school photoPhoto by shootlah!

  1. There is a healthy student-teacher ratio
  2. There is no competition.
  3. Evaluation is only to understand the child’s level of knowledge at to take it further
  4. Children learn at their own pace
  5. Flexible syllabus, no specific textbooks so rote learning is not at all necessary
  6. Children acquire skills in drawing, weaving, gardening clay work, painting, modeling, singing and farming. Their energy is channelized in positive jobs.
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With this many pluses, there is no wonder that the children of these schools do not dread or hate school.  These ideologies are becoming popular. There are many more schools in the Alternative Learning spaces list not mentioned here.

Also, More and more schools are now breaking the regular mold towards the betterment of students who will be future citizens of India.

Featured Photo by Sistak

Unconventional Schools – Alternative Learning Spaces In India

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