Published: 07th October 2021
Students in this government school in a remote Telangana village are creating viral innovations. Here's how
Zilla Parishad High School (ZPHS) in Chintalakunta knows how to make innovators out of their students. This is all that they do to enable it
Everyone and their uncle knows about A Srija, the wonder girl who made biodegradable pots from peanut shells. The story of how her innovation was scouted by Telangana State Innovation Cell through their state-wide flagship programme Intinta Innovator and scaled so much so that T Works stepped in, has been going viral recently. Then there is Navita, another student who came up with a digital wristwatch especially for the hearing and speech impaired. Her idea was selected for the Jawaharlal Nehru National Science Exhibition. There is also Erramma, whose device that issues an alert when any vehicle carries more than its capacity went straight to the Inspire Science Exhibition.
The point worth noting is that all three bright girls are from the same school — Zilla Parishad High School (ZPHS), Chintalakunta. So clearly, this is not an anomaly, there is a certain pattern emerging here. Thanks to a school that encourages students to ask questions and supports them while they go about answering the said questions on their own. The search for this answer — the one where we try to find out what the school is doing to nurture such innovators — led us to P Augustien, the Incharge Headmaster of the school located in Mahbubnagar District of Telangana, who was more than happy to answer.
The only box they need
First things first, if P Augustien was our Math teacher when we were in school, he would be our favourite teacher forever and for an infinity! The cheery disposition with which he patiently answers all our questions and his easy laughter that turns interviews into conversations is what has led us to arrive at this conclusion. But it's not just this one teacher, it's the very atmosphere of the school itself. So what is ZPHS, Chintalakunta getting right?
Students displaying their work
The very first mention goes to the humble Samyasala Pette (complaint box). All students have to do is write all their questions or the problems they have identified on a chit and drop it into this box. Then, every problem is read out in regular intervals and sometimes, during these readings, students themselves answer the problems. "Last week, a girl proposed that just like bleaching powder cleans surfaces, there should be a powder to clean all the plastic from the soil. Another girl wanted to come up with an alternative to firewood used for cooking so that her mother doesn't choke on the smoke," he laughs congenially, acknowledging the fact that all of this might sound too ambitious. "But that's not the point!" he exclaims and adds, "It's about encouraging them to ask questions and come up with answers as well." The teacher, who was born in Gadwal, 42 km away from his current workplace, informs that it was last year that this pette was installed.
When students get together
Balasabha! That's another one of their activities that encourages students to be proactive. Every Saturday, from 4.30-5.30 pm, students organise an event which is for the students and by the students. It was they who would go around, class after class, asking their peers if they would like to show their jalwa. Singing, dancing, recitation — everything and anything was allowed. The students are the host and they also essay the roles of chief guests and guest of honour like District Collector, Superintendent of Police and beyond.
Before the pandemic descended in full force, the school even conducted No Bag Days where the agenda was yoga, book reading, reviews, team games and many more fun activities. "All of this has definitely prevented dropouts because no child surely misses out on Balasabhas," he shares good-naturedly. But that's just the tip of the iceberg. What all of these also do is build innovation, leadership and a drive to seek solutions as long-term skills. Remember Navita? The same student who created a digital watch solely for the hearing and speech-impaired? "That was actually created for our watchmen, who can't hear or speak. It was getting tedious to call him again and again thus, she came up with this idea," shares the teacher who pursued his BEd from St Alphonsas College Of Education, Hyderabad.
And that's how it's done, folks.