Mohammad Sajid Hussain had completed his studies from Ramgarh village of Jharkhand and later flew to Germany to pursue a Ph.D. after completing metallurgical engineering.
Mohammad kept on studying higher abroad but all this while he also used to think about the education system back in India. How it was redundant and one-way dissemination of knowledge was a conventional routine.
In 2012, Mohammad got an opportunity to work with the National Aerospace Laboratory (NAL) in Bangalore. Even after all this, he still had one piece in his mind that wouldn’t fit right. He wanted to give back to society. As Sajid had experienced the education system at different players he was someone with valuable feedback.
This lack often led to students in his village dropping out and pursuing low-skilled professions. Only 2 or 3 of them would continue forward with their studies out of 110.
The will to give back:
While working at NAL, Sajid went ahead with these social entrepreneurship projects in Ramgarh and Chitarpur. Finally, in 2016 he quit his high-flying job and completely shifted his focus to improve the education system, especially in rural India.
Sajid Hussain wanted to set up something that was nothing like traditional schools. “The idea was to open a research centre which would act as a school for all the schools in Jharkhand. Like a resource centre, from where we can give resources to the schools around Jharkhand,” he said.
He wanted to make the entire school a learning ground. That is when he came up with the idea of ‘Schoolasium’. A portmanteau of the words ‘school’ and ‘gymnasium’. The word brought his thoughts exactly to life. ‘Schoolasium’- a mental gym for your mind. Instead of conventional practices, he believed that students should exercise their brains through practical lessons. The students could learn more and in-depth through this platform. Through this school he wants rural students to get on par with the ever-changing scientific developments.
This play-based teaching methodology is called Maker Oriented Pedagogy (MOP). The system is seeking to make children problem solvers through practical life lessons.
Students of class 3 bought oranges, lemons, turmeric and other food items for school. Before they could consume these items for nutritional value, these foods were used as examples to educate them about whether the food is acidic, alkaline or a base, by tasting it.
Through the concept of organic farming, they approach vegetables or grains by touch, smell and observing the items.
“On one occasion, students bought blades, batteries and motors to make an electronic fan during summer months. The small project provided them relief during hot days and they were proud of finding a solution to their own woes,” recollects Sajid.
Through these learning processes, students have to go through experiment-based and maker-centric learning.
Sajid Hussain says that over 26,440 students from 85 villages have been reached with this educational model, with more than 591 teachers. They also have more than 65 labs and library setups.
The school fees amount up to Rs.500 a month. In case, if the students can’t afford this also it is waived off. They have even approached the district government to help them with the finances for various schemes.
Despite all this success, they still face challenges. Some parents in villages are still reluctant to send kids to school and sourcing of funds.
Under Schoolasium there are various other departments like the District Innovation lab, STEAM Lab, Machine at My Place (MaMP), EdHub and various such centers. They are set across rural villages using limited resources.
Vision, mission, goals and objectives:
Their vision is- To be a resource centre for schools in Jharkhand and Bihar.
Their mission- To support low-income private and government schools to cultivate a vibrant learning ecosystem where holistic learning is fostered.
With the ultimate goal- To support the rural schools in Jharkhand and Bihar to establish the STEAM Prayogshala, Makeshala (Tinkering Lab) and Libraries and make MEPS as an EdHub.
When Sajid a scientist, educator and native of the village stands in front of these kids from schools in Gumla, Palamu, Koderma, Hazaribagh, Ramgarh, Jamshedpur, Dhanbad and even in some districts of Bihar he feels proud. He has been working for 7 years and finally, he feels contended as he is doing something for his society.
The Jharkhand state conferred Mohammad Sajid Hussain with the Best Innovative Idea Award for his innovative approach.
Find out more about them at https://schoolasium.org/
Watch them on https://youtu.be/d_UUoliyze4
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