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A Learning Environment for the Underprivileged

Part 2 Project 2008
Apeksha Gupta
Kamla Raheja Vidyanidhi Institute Mumbai India
In India, although child labour is banned by law, many children from the underprivileged society are forced to work in order to augment the income of their families, in the process compromising their education. Imparting primary level education free of cost is the responsibility of the state for which a number of schools are governed by the city’s municipal corporation, offering various schemes to encourage admissions of these children. These schemes are unsuccessful since the policymakers don’t understand the sociological, psychological, and physiological needs of these children.
The educational facilities provided to them should ideally be to enhance their skills by providing fundamental education that goes beyond functional literacy. This means not just imparting reading and writing skills but also overall education through work experience, sports and other activities and interaction with people from different income groups.
Educationists like Steiner and Warldolf, and Gandhi understood the importance of education for the overall mental and physical growth of these children. For the Indian education system what really inspired me were the words of Mahatma Gandhi- “Manual work should not be seen as something inferior to mental work.” He believed that schools which were based around productive work where that work was for the benefit of all were, therefore, carrying out education of the whole person - mind, body and spirit. This made me realize the importance of introducing vocation along with formal education, unfortunately lacking in the Indian education system today. Introducing not just any vocation but specifically those pursued, developed and taught by the community to the children thereby encouraging community involvement in the running of schools. This would further encourage cross learning between the community and their children, further propagating their cohesive development.
The thesis aims at creating one such built environment within its specific context, with a vocation based program linked to the formal education system structured by the inherent community, working as the preferred model for a government run school in developing nations.

Apeksha Gupta

Apeksha’s thesis addresses the issue of primary school education for under privileged children, a vital concern to our society. Attendance in schools that are run by the government is very low. Children are either working to augment family incomes or dropping out because they are unable to relate their education with life outside the school. The community is also not involved in running the school or formulating the curriculum.
The thesis proposes an alternative in the form of a curriculum that includes both manual skills and formal education. It also envisages community involvement particularly since many are self employed in some skilled activity.
The design provides spaces for both aspects of teaching in a sensitive and meaningful way. The ground space is organized to accommodate the activities that have an interface with the community while the upper floors provide areas for formal instruction. Connections between the different functions and spaces are intelligently designed. The building is also structured suitably for Mumbai’s climatic conditions.

-Prof. Kamu Iyer

Prof Kamu Iyer
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