In Wablewadi, a village in Pune district, there exists a government school unlike any other in the country. Though it has been around for many years, today, it is Wablewadi’s best kept secret.
This municipal school has undergone a complete makeover in terms of infrastructure as well as teaching approach.
In 2012, when Dattatreya Ware took charge as headmaster, he noticed that children weren’t too enthusiastic about coming to school. At the time, there were only 30 students who were actually attending classes. Disturbed by this trend, Dattatreya held a meeting with the parents.
“I told them that children need to get a good education and for that they need to have a proper environment. So, we thought of developing the school,” he says.
During the meeting, the parents decided that they wouldn’t accept external donations to renovate the school. They managed to raise approximately Rs. 17 lakh to give the school a much-needed makeover. It took almost a year for the work to be completed. The 66 households in the village funded the entire project. And that’s not all, the entire work was done by the parents and no labourers were employed.
Today, this school is air conditioned. It runs on solar power. And the children are taught through e-learning and activity-based methods. The best part is that it has more than 90 students now.
“The entire environment has undergone a tremendous change. Children come as early as 8 a.m. and stay till 7 p.m. We literally have to shoo them away,” says Dattatreya.
The campus is a Wifi-enabled one and every student has a tablet. There is a beautiful botanical garden in the school as well.
There are only four teachers in this school, including Dattatreya. It is his vision that has made the school what it is today.
The school has math, science, language and crafts labs, as well as a sports room. The teaching and learning is completely different from other traditional schools. There is a focus on the interest of student. For instance, a group of students may learn math one day and language the next day. There are no fixed hours for classes.
At the end of the day, if they haven’t understood certain concepts, the students look it up on the Internet.
They are provided an alternative and holistic learning experience.
“Since the school is under the Maharashtra State Board, the children take examinations at the end of the year. But, all of us strongly feel there is no need to tell the students they have a problem by giving them marks. This is why we don’t have exams during the year. In fact, we should be able to teach them well and the test should be for us,” he says.
The efforts made by Dattatreya and the other teachers haven’t gone unnoticed. In 2013, renowned Indian scientist Vijay Bhatkar visited the school and was so impressed that he said “it was his dream school”.
The Wablewadi Zilla Parishad School is also ISO 9001-2008 certified.
“All we want is for learning to be a joyful process. And we wish other schools in Maharashtra would emulate us so that many more children can enjoy going to school,” says Dattatreya.