Professor Anil Sadgopal, known for revolutionising the education sector in Madhya Pradesh, was on Friday felicitated with the Homi Bhabha Award in Science and Education 2018.
The award is presented every alternate year by the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research for exemplary contribution in the field of science education. Friday’s award was presented by Professor K. Subramaniam, director of the Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education, for Prof. Sadgopal’s lifelong contribution to the systematic rethinking of science education in India, including impactful experiments and teachings at the grassroots level.
Prof. Sadgopal designed and organised a rural education programme through Kishore Bharati in Hoshangabad district of Madhya Pradesh. In collaboration with Friends Rural Centre Rasulia, he initiated the Hoshangabad Science Teaching Programme (HSTP), which was a historic intervention in the government school system of Madhya Pradesh.
Prof. Sadgopal dedicated the award to his team. “The entire effort is invariably a team effort even if the award is given to an individual. It wouldn’t have been able to conceive HSTP without them,” he said.
The HSTP sought to reconstruct education’s status-quoist discourse over three decades. It introduced an experiment-based and inquiry-oriented teaching of science in 16 middle schools of Hoshangabad. Students learned science by either conducting experiments or going out on field trips. Over three decades, the government of Madhya Pradesh also accepted the programme and backed it with financial grants. Prof. Sadgopal spoke at length about Hoshangabad Vigyan in government schools with anecdotes, which delighted the audience.
Speaking about the first time he met the District Educational Officer of Hoshangabad, he said, “I didn’t even know the meaning of Bachelor of Education, which made everyone very angry. After that I learnt a lot and today I know everything about the Indian education system. I actively intervene to change the curricula of schools and universities,” he said.
In 2002, under the State government’s orders, HSTP was closed as the government was no longer able to fund the programme. Even after its closure, however, HSTP continued to revolutionise science education in India.
“Prof. Sadgopal and HSTP remain a beacon of light in our field. In our recent programme, Vigyan Pratibha, we were designing experiments with electricity. We consulted the Bal Vaigyanik workbooks of students from HSTP and the experiments were very well structured even though they are almost half-a-century old,” Prof. Subramaniam said.