Sunday, 09 December, 2018

Beyond the classroom

A bunch of educators, students and professionals in collaboration with Mushtifund Saunstha have come together to set up a unique co-learning space which will focus on holistic education and life skill development

Story: CHRISTINE | MACHADO | 15th May 2018, 02:38 Hrs


We all have ideas. It’s quite common to hear children talking about some fantastic product that they have thought up. We chuckle and usually forget about it. Some children go as far as to design the entire model and even come up with further ideas on how to make it work. Yet, these often remain on paper and are forgotten over time.  

But this scenario could undergo a change in the coming months as a group of educators, professionals, students and enthusiasts are coming together to start a unique co-learning space right in Panaji city. The group has collaborated with Mushtifund Saunstha on the same and the centre will be housed in the old school space which is part of the heritage area of Fontainhas. “We want to be that place that encourages stupid ideas and provide both equipment and mentoring for  youngsters to tinker around with their ideas and perhaps take it to the next level,” says Siddharaj Mopkar, who is part of this initiative.The other main people involved in this project are Raj Kunkolienkar, Datta Naik, Ryan D’Costa, Rahul Kamat and Renuka Figureido. Anil Counto, has been the main backer for their initiative.

The learning space which the group began ideating on seriously about a year ago will include four laboratories with one each devoted to electronics, computer programming, digital designing and mechanical engineering. These laboratories will be equipped with all necessary tools for enthusiasts to tinker around with. There will also be a classroom on science and mathematics and one on social science and humanities.

“We will be focusing on providing hands on training through workshops and seminars with school and college students. We will also look at facilitating interaction between students and industry,” says Mopkar. Depending on the progress, the centre also hopes to help students take their ideas to the next level with the help of industrial support and convert this into a start up.  

While the morning period will be focused on working professionals, afternoons will be meant for school children and evenings for college students to come and work on their projects.

“We believe that now more than ever it is critical to have something like this as today it is possible to make it without a degree,” says Kunkolienkar. The team believes that 10 years down the line, the way companies hire will also undergo a change. “Instead of a CV, we believe the focus will be on demonstrating your skills. And it is these skills that we want to develop,” says Mopkar.

“The problem at the moment is that people have a difficulty finding others with common interests with whom they can discuss their ideas. At the same time there are others who have something to impart to others through workshops but have no platform to do so. This centre will serve as a place to enable this,” says Kunkolienkar.

The major hurdle they are facing at the moment however is getting enough finance for the equipment they require for this project and they are hoping that people who believe in their idea will extend their help and support for this. “When there is already a similar business in place, it is easier to explain and convince people of what our project is exactly. However we haven’t found something exactly like this in India as of now,” says Mopkar.

Another challenge is to change the mindsets of people. “School students are told to only look to their textbooks. We need to make parents realise that this is not the future. Also, what college students are learning especially in the field of technology is outdated. While it does give a foundation, technology has progressed far beyond and students need to learn and be abreast of this,” says Mopkar. Another thing that centre aims to do is to get people who are already done with college, back into the process of learning

The group has received a great response till now and are targeting June to begin operations. “In school, you are taught to give the right answer. We strive to help you ask questions. While we learnt what was in school, we intend to focus on what can and will be,” concludes Kunkolienkar.



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