FEATURE: Robotics Programme sparks innovative learning in Central Asia

10 January 2018

 “The robotics club develops logic and creativity in students, as well as improves their abilities in other subjects,” says Orusbekov G, a parent of an enthusiastic student attending the Aga Khan Lycée.

On December 16th, the Aga Khan School (AKS), Osh and Aga Khan Lycée (AKL), Khorog held a Robotics Showcase to celebrate and mark the completion of the first phase in the Junior First League Robotics Programme. The event was attended by parents, teachers and community members who came to support students as they presented their final models. 

The first of its kind in the region, Junior First League Robotics is a 9-week programme that teams up young students and adult coaches to explore real-world issues, such as food safety, recycling, and energy-related topics. During the course, students learn about teamwork and the wonders of science and technology, thereby strengthening skills in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) in a fun and engaging way. 

The Aga Khan Education Board (AKEB) for Canada and the Aga Khan Education Service in Tajikistan and the Kyrgyz Republic have collaborated to launch the Robotics Programme. Prior to the launch of the course, two volunteers, Sadru Damji and Sobia Makhani, organized an 11-day faculty training for over 25 teachers, as well as engaging teachers from other schools in Khorog. The training included 3–6 hours of daily instruction for the faculty, and a six-day short course for 30 students. 
 
Throughout the course, teachers and students are engaged in activities that illustrate their learnings. As a final project, students construct a robotics model to demonstrate what they have learned, using LEGO elements. “The most interesting activity was when we created a model of our school using LEGOs,” said Imomberdieva Anisa, a Grade 5 student. As a team, students planned their models from inception to implementation by analyzing research, developing layouts and logos, and preparing for the final presentation.

For the teachers, many of them developed new approaches to teaching practice as they learned to use new technologies. Teachers also appreciated how much students benefit from play-based and interactive learning. As one teacher said, “This approach helped students discover new ways of solving complex challenges.”

Since the programme’s launch, the faculty has been running regular after-school activities in Khorog (Grade 4 students) and Osh (Grade 5 students). Over 20 students at each school are benefiting from this pilot initiative, with an equal representation from girls and boys. 

Aga Khan Education Service, Tajikistan (AKES, Tj) actively participates in the direct provision of quality education of children aged 3 to 18 years, facilitating the professional development of teachers through in-service training, working collaboratively with AKDN sister-agencies and government education institutions to support quality access in remote and rural areas, and providing merit scholarships to students from diverse and marginalized backgrounds.

Aga Khan Education Service, Kyrgyz Republic (AKES, KR), currently provides over 500 students with quality learning experiences in an environment which values diversity and responds creatively to the educational needs of children. The Aga Khan School strives to create a harmonious balance between academic demands, sporting and cultural activities and community life. It challenges its pupils to be intellectually inquisitive and socially conscious.

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