HomeAndhra Pradesh Agastya: Sparking Creativity in Rural India Guest Reporter May 23, 2010 Andhra Pradesh, Children, community development, Education, Literacy, NGO, Science, Training Spread over a vast area of 170 acres of rocky wasteland in Kuppam, a deprived rural area in Andhra Pradesh, Agastya International foundation believes that complete learning is a combined form of shiksha (education), samskara (values) and sansara (world). It focuses on transforming the critical and much neglected area of primary and secondary education of the rural masses in India, including children and teachers. Agastya runs one of the largest hands-on science education programs in the world! Agastya does this by bringing hands-on science education to the rural masses through the use of outreach programs like “Science on Wheels” (Mobile Labs), Science Fairs, Teacher Development Program and Young Instructors Programs. Agastya seeks to fill the gaps in the Indian education system that threaten its socio-economic development. The conventional Indian education system instills little creativity in children and teacher education is generally divorced from classroom realities. Agastya’s projects overcome these problems with their unique features which involve idea generation and testing through the Creativity Lab, creativity generation for poor and disadvantaged through interactive and engaging learning methods, learning linked to environmental goals, emphasis on developing behavioral skills and a close link between teacher education and the classroom system. Watch the spirit of Agastya (an abridged documentary) Agastya: Science on Wheels If you ever hear Ramji Raghavan (Founder, Agastya International Foundation) speak, you would certainly hear him talk about the learning pyramid as he strongly believes in the fact that we learn about 5% of what is taught to us in a lecture, 10% of what we read, 50% of what we see and hear, 70% of what we discuss with others, 80% of what we experience and 95% of what we teach. Ramji Raghavan, a former NRI banker came back to India with a vision of providing education to poor children and teachers – education that would be the opposite of conventional techniques and this led to the birth of Agastya, named after Mahirshi Agastya, famous for spreading sacred knowledge to south India, as a charitable trust in 1999. Agastya has started off successfully on the path of building a creative India of ‘tinkerers, solution seekers and creators’ that are ‘ humane, anchored and connected’ by impacting over 3 million children and 120,000 teachers from vulnerable and disadvantaged communities. The model is scalable and replicable anywhere in the world. You can take a look at Agastya’s visual documentation here. Website: http://www.agastya.org/ This article has been contributed by Chandrika Maheshwari. Chandrika is a student in her 3rd year of engineering in BITS, Pilani and holds a vision to do something for the country and contribute in its development. Her interests include social entrepreneurship, traveling, reading and writing.