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Akshara- Learn As You Play

Posted by rod - 19.01.2011

Akshara- Learn As You Play came to life when Sayantani Dasgupta, Meghma Mitra from the Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology tried to address the challenges of primary education.

Here is the interview from the INDEX website.

Please provide an overall description of the project?
What are the aims and objectives?
Financial conditions of the different parts of society in India dictate the standard of education meted out. There is a stark difference in the learning levels of children of the same age coming from private and government institutions. The bridge that is missing here is uniform infrastructure. Here we are talking about things ranging from proficiency of teachers, funds allotted to the school for basic necessities like mid day meals, quality of text books and stationeries, to teaching aids. Our project has tried to tackle the necessity of improving the learning aides provided by the government to the public schools. Primary school children in India do not have very good reading abilities. We have tried to find a fresh perspective on the traditional alphabet book in the form of a toy, like a jigsaw puzzle, which helps children assimilate language better through tactile experience as well as develop their motor skills which are also very important for children at a primary school level. We have visually disintegrated the letters of the vernacular Kannada alphabets into basic forms. These can be formed and reformed into English alphabets as well as Kannada ones and different shapes like tree, man, woman, fish, insects etc. The entire point of this is to make the concept of an alphabet book more effective through a do it yourself process because studies in child psychology show that children assimilate more by doing rather than learning by rote.

How does your design sufficiently address the current situation as described in the design brief?
The design brief talks about meeting the shortages in supplies, equipment and inadequate facilities in low income communities. The Government run public primary schools in India are all supplied with mass generated learning aides, which are supposed to help the students learn the rudiments of their mother tongue and a more scratchy version of English. Most of the innovations that have happened in the field of learning aides have happened mostly in the west. There has been almost no innovation to speak of in the development of vernacular learning aides. Due to India’s colonial history, and the present global situation, the aides used in schools today are various versions of western learning aides. The designs that are currently in use are of deplorable quality in terms of production and as discovered in our research mostly indecipherable and hence ultimately redundant. Our design hopes to remedy this. This project is at its most basic form assimilating two languages but it has scope for more. This toy can be further developed into a series of educational toys addressing a minimum of seven to ten Indian languages. The toy addresses only alphabets as the initial level of learning a language but it can be further developed into the secondary level for example constructing words and sentences. One more possibility of this toy is that it does not limit the child’s imagination. He or she is not required to form associations with things defined in a traditional alphabet book but are free to form associations with things they are familiar with. For example it is not necessary for a child to connect A to APPLE. He is free to connect A to anything he wants for example an ANT. This is the greatest freedom offered by the toy as a tool that educates as well as engenders creativity. viw littledesignbook If you like this project you may like the Learn Chinese with Mandagrams part 1 and part 2

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