700 schools in Kerala to have butterfly gardens on campus. Here's Samagra Shiksha's latest initiative 

Project Director Dr Kuttikrishnan AP talks about the Kerala division's latest project that will spark scientific curiosity in school children 
Representative image (Pic: Pixabay))
Representative image (Pic: Pixabay))

Learning directly from nature is a concept that has almost ceased to exist in this age of urbanisation and tech-savviness. Students have been separated from the uniqueness of learning in a natural environment. At such a time, the news of butterfly gardens in school campuses comes as a welcome and soothing sight for the eyes. That is exactly what the Samagra Shiksha's Kerala division has taken up this year. They hope to bring children all the more closer to Mother Earth in a project that is planned to reach about 700 schools in the state. We talked to Dr Kuttikrishnan AP, the state project director of this initiative, about how the programme will take shape. Excerpts:

Could you tell me about the projects that you have undertaken in the past and how this year's efforts will take shape?

For several years now, we have been conducting various programmes to urge scientific curiosity among children of government-aided schools. As part of this, we had the biodiversity gardens project that sought to make school campuses as a means of learning themselves, similar to a textbook. This would enable students to have first-hand experience and a direct means of learning from nature itself. That's why, this year, we have planned to undertake the project of creating butterfly gardens in select schools.

What are the learning outcomes you are hoping for with this?

The learning outcomes that we expect through this include inculcating scientific curiosity among children, setting a research frame of mind and, obviously, learning more about entomology.

And what do the schools need to do?

There will surely be certain requirements from the schools. Firstly, they should showcase a genuine willingness to initiate such a project in their school. Crucially, they must have a conducive campus for this purpose with enough space. Only then are we likely to partner with them and move forward. We have received several proposals already and after a selection process, we will initiate academic and financial support for them.

What support have you received from other bodies for this initiative?

We have partnered with Kerala Forest Research Institute who will be providing the technical support for the butterfly gardens. The scientists from the institute had taken an introductory session during our inaugural function at Government Upper Primary School in Kayamkulam. We are looking to begin the construction phase of the project by December this year.

There must definitely be some hurdles with this kind of us initiative. 

The main challenge is to sustain the initial effort that we put in, right from the start. The interest has to come in from the teachers and students. If that isn't there, then an outside agency can do little to support them. 

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