Founded by Venu Nadella, Janyaa designs and distributes scientific & mathematical experiments for government schools in villages and trains teachers to encourage hands-on learning.
“As students, we retain only 5% of a lecture, 50% of any audio-visual aid and 80% of what we experience, says a key finding. When we take a look at our education system, we see lecturing as the only predominant method used. We are working towards changing that through Janyaa,” says Venu Nadella, who founded the organisation in 2009.
Janyaa, which translates to ‘life’, focuses on developing creative problem solving skills among rural children. The organisation’s aim is to educate government school students through hands-on learning.
Janyaa designs, manufactures and distributes curriculum-based scientific as well as mathematical experiments in different schools. The organisation’s focus is on the students from classes 6 to 10 and the organisation plans to start working with lower classes in near future. There are around 500 experiments in the kit developed by Janyaa that cover Physical sciences, Biology & Mathematics.
“We are trying to make students understand the real life application of various scientific concepts. When children understand the concepts, it makes learning fun and excites the imagination,” Satish Velagapudi, member of the executive team at Janyaa.
Janyaa piloted the project in 4 schools in 2009 and 5 more schools were added in 2010. So far, the programme has worked with about 320,000 students in 930 schools across 14 states that include Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Delhi, Odisha, Haryana, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Jammu & Kashmir, Rajasthan and Gujarat.
“We received great response and more schools started approaching us to work with them. Then we started working with other non-profit partners to reach out to more number of students. Since 2014, we have also started working with Government organisations. We are currently implementing a pilot program in partnership with Nigerian government with Rotary’s support. Our goal is also to spread our program to other countries,” says Satish.
Venu thought of founding an organisation over 10 years ago. She had read about farmer suicides in the villages and come across many stories of the predicament of farmers through friends and acquaintances.
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“When discussing several issues with the locals, I was surprised at their ignorance of the fundamentals of farming, like the storage of crops, interest rates and fertility of soil. I realized that even little education on the fundamentals of math and science would help them in many ways. Upon further deliberation, I felt that if we focus on children and educate them well, they could help their parents and also be in a position to understand and implement what they have learnt when they take up the responsibilities,” says Venu.
With farmers on her mind as the target group, Venu knew that the emphasis had to be on practical learning.
She realised that while the theoretical understanding was important for the children, understanding how those concepts are applied in real life was equally important.
“We thought of starting mobile labs, but we could not comprehend (students) being taught a bunch of concepts in a day and having to wait for another three months for the next set. Children cannot retain so many concepts learnt in a single day. Then we decided to give the boxes of scientific experiments to schools so that teachers would have the flexibility to use them whenever needed,” says Venu.
The box of experiments is given to schools and the teachers are trained by Janyaa’s educational experts. Teachers can pick an experiment from the box that is relevant to the concept and use it while teaching it in the classroom. There are many experiments in the box, like tiles that can be used to solve simple equations, a toy telephone to understand the concept of sound and a rubber ball and syringe that can be used to explain Pascal’s law. The box is available to students any time they want.
“A child wrote to us saying that she is able to answer questions in the exams in her own words. It was something she had never been able to do before! A teacher informed us that students have started coming to school even during rainy days since they love working with the experiments. I think that sums it all,” says Satish.
To know more about Janyaa, visit its official website here.