This pioneering education intervention in science education which happened in the schools in Hoshangabad from 1972 to 2002 has been perhaps one of its kind in all of India. From how it drew some of the best minds in the country to engage with education in rural India, to the birth of an education organization, the impact it had on the children and teachers in school in those years, the innovations in curriculum and pedagogy that it wrought, to the way that has gone on to influence the education system and continues to inspire many young people to engage with social causes – everything is almost stuff of the legends. Even the way the program was shutdown in 2002 triggered a lot of deliberations and reflections and learning about intervening in school education.
From an article in The Hindu at the time the program was shut down:
The Hoshangabad Science Teaching Programme (HSTP) or Hoshangabad Vigyan, introduced in the district in 1978 in government schools, for the first time used a universally acknowledged pedagogical approach to the teaching of science. The guided discovery-based approach used experiments performed by students to generate knowledge. It changed the traditional architecture of the classroom from rows of children listening to a lecture to small groups interacting with each other while performing experiments. Instead of memorising a body of knowledge, students discussed their observations, leading to a conceptual understanding of scientific principles. Children are encouraged to conduct experiments and find their own answers — there are no guidebooks or question papers with readymade answers. Examinations are conducted with open books and children do not know how many marks they will get for each question.
There is much to learn from HSTP for all those who are seriously engaged in education – both from its successes and its failures.
Explore: Hoshangabad Science Teaching Program to read more about the program’s genesis and 30 year history, the plethora of materials for children and teachers that it produced as well as a rich archive of the critical discussions that its closure triggered.