Role of Graphics and Animation in Primary Education in India
Assistant Professor & Coordinator, B.Design , Sharda University
We have used enough lung power in discussing political situations in the country, the education system in the country but have failed to talk earnestly about the insipid education system in India particularly at the primary level in the rural sector.
Despite the study tour of the Indian dignitaries across the globe, the primary education system has crippled to a large extent with children just not been able to create any interest in schooling. Undoubtedly, the government has initiated lot of schemes to attract the young minds for enrollment in schools in villages in India but has failed miserably in the process. The outcome has been near to nil despite the freebies which include mid-day meals, text books and writing instruments.
Finland may be the model for education system for most educationists in India, but somehow no education minister or the HRD ministry chalked out a strategy to integrate Finland’s educational acumen into ours in part, if not in whole. Now that Finland is restructuring its mode of teaching which will be implemented by 2020, it’s high time for India to take the cue and modify the teaching methods in India too.
The basic concept in India particularly in the rural sectors must be to subtly combine literacy with vocational competency into the primary education. This move may find an initial opposition but continued efforts to execute it will harness benefits for millions of Indian children now languishing in their own prison of mind.
India is a home to 400 million children and according to official statistics* every sixth child in the world lives in India but sadly, despite government’s initiative to provide free and compulsory education to the children of six to fourteen years (as per the Amendment of Constitution in August 2009) they have been hit by a major blow with 800 million of them having never stepped in a school and another eight million abandoning schooling even before completing the basics. These 2013 statistics were part of the survey conducted by the United Nations Children’s Fund propelling a lot of concern for the country.
The alarming observation of UNICEF (United Nations Childrens’ Fund) representative in India, Louis Georges Arsenault, at the media roundtable on “Progress of the RTE implementation” that the school dropouts was ‘because they were not learning anything in school’ did not wake up the HRD ministry nor did the schools take a serious note of it. Instead a report submitted by National University of Educational Planning and Administration suggested that over 12 million more children had been enrolled but the dropout rate did not come down but marginally to 27 per cent in the primary level while 41 per cent at the elementary level.
The only way to ensure that young children did not miss out on their right to basic education and re-engage with learning to enhance their life chances would be to design a module in each syllabus which comprises both formal and non-formal teaching method with a high dose of visual aids.
The United National Education Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) has been advocating the concept of lifelong learning which should also be followed by India. Take the example of nursery rhymes in India. Twinkle Twinkle Little Star (Hindi Rhyme) is recalled within a jiffy. The reason is not that it was learnt by heart but by the way it was taught to the young impressionable minds. The teachers would often emote the lines and enact with the help of gestures which made a lasting impression. Similarly, Machli Jal Ki Rani Hai (Hindi Rhyme) was taught with the same passion and enacted and emoted well that went well with the children.
Primary education must be informal so that the child learns as if it was a play tool and it must be borne in mind that primary education must be treated as a springboard for secondary one and thereby also serve as an alternative educational pathway.
In primary education three things have to be taken into account while teaching the kids. First is that their concentration on the subject/rhyme/story should be more than 78 per cent and the subject/rhyme/story should be understood by the listener or the student almost 95 per cent. Then comes the recall value. It should be at least 60 per cent of the 95 per cent of the understood value. To simply further in Indian context, generally the sixth standard child is successful in narrating the story of a two hour feature film in 10 or 15 minutes. This is exactly how he should rewrite a précis. But when the three factors of concentration, understanding and recall value are taken in account rigorously, the recall value will exceed 80 per cent in common.
As one understands that during the primary level, the brains of the children are more open to learning, according to a Swiss clinical psychologist Jean Piaget known for his pioneering work in child development has said that “It is with children that we have the best chance of studying the development of logical knowledge, mathematical knowledge, physical knowledge, and so forth”.
But there is one good news that journey of education in India, has been dotted with innumerable milestones, and the most recent among these is e-learning. For last two decades e-learning has been introduced in our education system which has brought some positive result in our education system of primary schools in India. Education has been shifted from the traditional classroom model learning to learning that is instant, online, self-driven and on the go. Almost all the private schools of our country has adopted e-learning system in their teaching method. Realizing its potential, the government is keen that all States should facilitate e-learning in government schools.
Digital learning is far cheaper than textbook learning and the biggest advantage is that most of the audio-visuals can be updated according to the needs in a continual manner. Education has been shifted from the traditional classroom model learning to learning that is instant, online, self-driven and on the go and this is the right time for the schools to adopt e-learning.
All experts are leaving no stone unturned to push the e-leaning but the most difficult task that is staring into the eyes of the advocates of e-learning particularly in the rural sector is the content. Going by the profile of the children and the family background of the area, the modules have to be rewritten and the content modified with lots of visual aids.
The best option will be graphics and animation. So while the going is hot, strike it sensibly with graphics and animations to be the compulsory teaching aid in the syllabus of the nursery and primary schools in the rural sector.
E-learning reduces the cost of education by denting the cost of infrastructure as one-time investment is split over a large number of students and has a long shelf life. Though we can debate on the benefits of e-learning, but can contribute towards a healthy educational change if we speed up the process and generate the young minds to create their own animated videos that will train them professional for a better life later.
As a result the Government of Gujarat has deployed computer labs in 15,493 primary and upper primary government schools in the state – an initiative that is likely to benefit lakhs of children every year. In Bhubaneswar, The ICT @school scheme (Information and communication Technology) of E- Vidyalaya programme aims to reach 4,000 government schools in its first phase and an additional 2,000 government schools in its second phase. Telangana Sarva Siksha Abhiyan is trying to implement e-learning for classes VVIII in the state government schools using computers and ICT. Similarly, other states are going to follow it soon. E-learning has following advantages that has helped slightly in bringing down the dropout rates of children in primary schools:
Advantage of e-learning
With e-learning, even the most difficult-to-explain concepts can be converted into digital format and simplified for learning and remembering. Children remember videos more than they would remember a chalk-and-talk session. Moreover, teachers will get free time to explain the finer points when the basic concepts are explained with the help of digital modules.
E-learning ensures a consistent, high-quality academic delivery that is not dependent on the availability of teachers or their skill set. In fact, over time, e-learning will enable them to raise their game and become better teachers. Students in remote areas, who otherwise would not have any access to highly specialized teaching, now have access to pre-recorded lectures, documentaries and other video content that can be viewed when needed. Even though basics seldom change, textbooks have to be constantly updated to stay in tune with changing times, latest developments and new discoveries.
Animation is the in-thing today
From television to films animation in credits are now being seen regularly and who can forget the evergreen Tom and Jerry. The Indian television has seen Ramayana, Mowgli and others as the new entertainment programs for both children and adults alike.
Since 1990s , animation has come of age and it has been taken into a mainstream of education- the result is the mushrooming of animation and graphics in schools and continual admissions to the courses indicate the scope of it as profession.
Animation is the main part of an E-learning content and can be defined as the “illusion of motion” created by a rapid display of images in a sequential manner. Animation can play a vital role in raising the intelligence and interest of children in studies. This can be established by understanding the production process of making an animation. There are three phases of production- Pre Production, Production & Post Production.
The pre-production is the stage where a raw idea is converted into a story or a sequence of action. It is a brainstorming stage where one has to go through a lot of reference study and research in order to visualize the actual story. Once the idea or story is developed then storyboard is prepared.
A storyboard can be defined as a pictorial presentation of sequence of action in the form of graphical illustrations or sketches to depict a story. The timing is decided in the basis of the audio or music chosen. Once the storyboard is final, all required graphics are created like characters, backgrounds etc. This is called Production stage where all required animations using animation tools like Flash, Toon Boom, 3ds Max, Maya etc. are done as per the storyboard.
Once the entire production is done including coloring and lighting it goes for final composition. The post-production is the stage where all graphics, text and sound are synchronized all together using tools like Adobe Premiere or After Effects.
The entire process of doing animation is very engaging and fun oriented. It gives the user a detailed understanding of the topic concerned and stays in his memory for a longer period. It can be better understood by a well-known English idiom “a picture is worth a thousand words”.
It will accelerate the impact of learning in many ways. Animation can narrate any complex topic into a simple easily understandable story. It helps in breaking the complexities of various science related topics. For example a child can very well understand the process of photosynthesis if he makes the animation of entire process.
Broaden the Visualization
A child will see numerous graphics and references on Internet and books which will in turn widen and strengthen his mind to develop his own perspective for any topic. With this practice he will have a better intelligence and vision in his secondary and further studies.
Learning with Fun
It is well known fact that children love cartoons. So they can be trained to create their animation using basic cartoon characters. It will further sustain their interest in studies and let them learn with fun..
Decision taking ability
With rising competition all over he needs to be sharp and wise in taking his decision of future. Animation technique will develop a logical and practical approach in his working style which would further make him a good decision maker.
As graphics and animation has reached in all the sectors of either entertainment or infotainment. The skills acquired during his school days will fetch him a better chances of employability irrespective of age and location. As he can do freelance job at any age and from any location connected with internet. There are many hidden advantages which can be experienced once the child has learn these techniques. It is just not only going to help an individual to become more efficient and successful but will further help in building a good society and a better Nation.
We can learn from other countries who has adopted graphics and animation as a culture and have been benefited at large. Countries like Japan and China are leading in terms of technology and per capita income. It is nothing but their advanced education system that has taken them an upper edge over others. In India animation has not received its due treatment till now. It has not been fully utilized to its potential and sadly has been limited to entertainment sector and few industrial sectors only.
In the beginning of its growth in India it got exploited by educational institutes and few colleges. Due to the lack of efficient and weak training module it couldn’t yield good results. The course and syllabus was poorly developed which couldn’t produce good animators and artists. Because of non- adequate jobs and less opportunities our youth have started sidelining from it. So, this is the high time our Government should intervene and save this wonderful art from dying.
To get the maximum benefit from graphics and animation in our education sector, we should introduce graphics and animation training since the primary stage of learning. This task can be only achieved if it can be introduced as a compulsory subject in schools at both primary and secondary level. Government can come forward and directs the education bodies like CBSE and State Boards to implement in the school syllabus.
Already efforts have been made by the private sector companies but the result has not been so complementary till date. There are few companies from south who have started this initiative and trying hard to implement in schools. MINDBOX (http://mindbox.in/) and ANIGURU (http://www.aniguru.com/#) are few of them who have achieved a little success so far. It has been able to tie up with some schools across India and introduce its course and learning tools at primary level. But their journey so far has been very challenging and not very effective.
The other problem is that they are just limited to private schools as there is a good amount of investment involved. So a large section of the children who comes from poor families and studies in government schools can’t be benefitted. In this case the it’s hard to achieve the desired result of controlling the dropout rates of school among children . Our government needs to intervene and contribute in making this program successful all across the country. Once this graphics and animation technique is introduced as a compulsory course in our primary and secondary schools then it won’t be very difficult in getting the result. Though there are few challenges in achieving this goal. These are as follows: · Internet and Wi-Fi is required to run this program- We are still struggling to get access to Wi-Fi at remote places but under Government program of DIGITAL INDIA Campaign we can expect the reach of internet to schools and educational institutes.
Challenge - Animation process is complex
It is somewhat true at some extent but this process can be further simplified by using Stop Motion or Experimental Animation Method. These two methods doesn’t require any special skill or can be acquired by regular practice.
We need to produce good number of skilled artist who can train students on a large scale. This task can be achieved with running a parallel training program with ongoing Government scheme of NSDC(National Skill Development Corporation of India). It will increase the employability amongst our youth and can be considered as a good career option. These above mentioned challenges are not very hard to achieve. What required is the contribution of our Government and a full proof plan of implementing this program. Further PPP(Public-Private Partnership) module can be introduced to share the burden of the government and making it more effective.
Big companies like Reliance, Infosys, Wipro etc. who are already working in this sector since can partner with government and launch a program where a larger section of society is benefited.
Om Singh is a Post Graduate in animation and multimedia and works as an Assistant Professor in Sharda University, Greater Noida. He is a practicing artist and holds 10 yrs of experience in the field of graphics and animation.
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