“Activity-based Learning of NEP 2020 is the key for future education in India” – Akshara Foundation’s Annual Symphosium

Akshara Foundation had organised its annual Symposium on ‘Mathematics of STEM education at the Chancery Pavilion hotel, Bangalore on 20th of January 2023. Held under the title of “It All Adds Up 2022-23”, the symposium hosted three independent panel discussions on ‘Innovative Pedagogies in Maths’, ‘Using Technology to Supplement Classroom Instruction and Spark Joy of Learning’, ‘Test scores and Beyond’ followed by a brief interactive session titled ‘Maths in Everything’.

Opening with an introductory speech, the Chairman of the foundation, Mr. Ashok Kamath observed that “we need another Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan kind of model or entity to ensure quality schooling and learning which had ensured 95% of the children attending schools today” raising way above from around 60-65% in 2001. He also emphasised on sustainability on top of the scale that SSA has been able to achieve.

The first panel discussion commenced with opening remarks by Ms. Cauvery. B.B., IAS, State Project Director, SamagraShikshana Karnataka who observed how KalikaChetarike has helped, in post Covid educational scenario, to better the conceptual understanding among teachers and students. She also noted the positive impact ofGanitha Kalika Andolana (GKA), an activity-based maths learning programme that has now become the maths period in every government school across Karnataka and Odisha."Ganitha Kalika Andolana, now for grades 4-8 in Karnataka, has been a successful programme. The feedback has been that when children are able to see, feel and observe Teaching-Learning aids, it makes it easier for them to understand."

While pedagogy expert and Maths communicator Mr. V. Sivashankara Sastry drew attention towards the lack of ‘element of entertainment’ in teaching Maths in schools in order to be strongly equipped for the times of 4th industrial revolution, senior lecturer Mr. T.K. Raghavendra, Senior Lecturer, DIET, & State Mathematics Resource Person underlined the importance of recognising maths in everyday life which will, in turn, stress the applicational value of mathematics.

In the following sessions, Azeez Gupta - Founder of Rocket Learning, Prasanna Vadayar - CEO of Sikshana Foundation and Ebenezer Vidyasagar - board member of Vibha India, shared their insights on how their products and efforts have brought in tangible changes in the lives of students of the remote parts of India. They also shared the challenges and bottlenecks involved in the Edtech sector.

The third panel discussion in the afternoon, titled under ‘Test scores and beyond’ Principal, DIET, Odisha Tapas Kumar Nayak, founder and ED of CSSl India Ms. Vaijayanthi Shankar along with the customer satisfaction head of Educational Initiatives Ms. Jayanthi Dasgupta shared their decade long research insights and outcomes regarding the problems and challenges in methodologies of assessments.

Some interesting observations by Ms. Vaijayanthi Sankar “"Self-efficacy in maths - decreases with age.Those with a growth mindset - tend to do better in maths.Those who enjoy reading - do better in maths.We are not addressing any of these aspects while assessing children, and many more."

Mr. Tapas Kumar Nayak, Principal DIET, Odisha put out an interesting couple points as well "We talk about innovative pedagogies. Then how can we contradict it with a traditional assesssment system? An innovative assessment system is needed to evaluate a child. It will help the teacher to find out the indicators of whether the children are learning or not.”

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