Project creativity: Self-image and creative sense
Recently a Unicef-funded programme ‘Welcome to School Initiative Phase III’ completed an interesting project in district Dir Lower, a subdivision of Adenzai, in which 40,000 children from 200 public-sector schools took part showing their creative talent through various presentations.
It was after the successful experiment in districts Swat and Shangla two months ago in which about 30,000 children from 300 schools had participated that the project initiator was inspired to also launch the same programme in district Dir Lower.
The basic aim was to encourage small children to do something practical to enhance their self-image and bring out their creative talents for better classroom participation. There was also an aim for the community to take an interest in school affairs and teachers’ involvement to focus on students’ individual hidden talents for creating a child-friendly educational environment in schools. Unfortunately, our school syllabus does not encourage such activities due to which the children lose interest in going to school, resulting in a high dropout rate.
Teenage children want to satisfy their urge to do something on their own in order to get appreciation from their teachers, parents and society at large but faced with a harsh and unappreciative attitude from from all three sides they may get disappointed and resort to taking up unhealthy activities, while ruining their bright future.
Mr Wajid Ali, the project coordinator, told this writer that eight union councils in district Dir Lower tehsil Adenzai were selected where 400 school teachers were trained after being provided improvised tools for making various models for class presentations. Then a grand competition was arranged among the talented students in which the local elders, educationists and district officials of the education department also participated. The successful students were awarded prizes and commendatory certificates.
“It was such a wonderful experience. I was wonderstruck to see small kids exhibiting their latent talent while presenting models prepared by them despite the meagre resources and unfavourable conditions. The children were obviously gifted with inborn talent but needed an opportunity to bring it out. If more funds are available, we have a comprehensive plan to extend our project to other districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as well,” Mr Ali envisaged.
The teachers, he said, had been trained in such a manner where they could carry out model making projects in the classrooms in order to promote students’ interest in science subjects. He added that the materials used in model making did not cost any big amount in funds. “We have trained teachers and students to make effective use of the available audio visual aids which cost them nothing and which are easily available, too” the project coordinator maintained.
The District Education Officer (EDO) Mr Bashir Ahmad who was the chief guest on the occasion said that the education department supported such healthy activities, adding that civil society, local community and teachers could play a remarkable role in bringing about a substantive change in society through an interactive teaching method. “The education department is always ready to extend any kind of assistance they need, such innovative and interesting methods are the need of the hour to overcome the problem of dropouts. An educated society can lead us to a peaceful coexistence and also can help us produce creative youth for our bright future,” Mr Ahmad argued.
Ninth-graders Erum Khan and Aliya Shahid were among the winning students for making the best models. They complained that their school had no science and commuter labs and no library. Similar was the case with most public-sector schools in the KP. “Making science models with simple tools was an interesting experience for us. This at least made us love all science subjects, our biology teacher Miss Aleena helped and guided us. Now, we are able to prepare models of various things including a dam and an aeroplane,” said a proud Aliya.
A senior teacher while requesting anomity said that that most teachers never used teaching methods which they learnt during their BA and MEd training courses. He said that the textbooks taught in the state-run schools were so dull and uninteresting, a reason why both teachers and students soon get bored with them. “No audio visual aids are available to teachers to add some life into the lessons. If the government does not provide basic facilities to schools, how can you expect good results and better academic performance from the teachers? I hope such innovative methods can help us improve our classroom environment,” he hoped.
Education experts believe that children need guidance and a slight spur to arouse their creativity and fire up their imagination. Mr Haji Zarwali , a local community elder and a retired teacher hailing from Dir Lower remarked that students loved to prepare things with their own hands as it enhanced their self-image and creative powers which in turn helped them transform society.
Mr Riaz Hussain, who was part of the project, said that it was for the first time in his 20-year teaching career that he learnt that even ordinary and improvised tools could be used to make a dull lesson interesting and more attractive for the students. “I was able re-admit 40 students in different target schools through the use of simple tools which I had asked them to make. Once the student is convinced and gets motivated he or she never slips out of school. It needs a little bit patience and devotion,” Mr Hussain observed.
Mr Amanullah, a data collection officer with the project, told Dawn that the children took great interest in practical work.
The project, he said, encouraged the slow learners to quickly get involved in active classroom assignments.
“Doing something practical gives students a sense of achievement while active class participation enhances their self-confidence, helps them bring out leadership qualities and decreases a wide gap between the students and teachers,” Mr Amanullah concluded.