He never liked the traditional education system. Now he has gamified education so that kids can learn with joy
Jebel-E-Nur Labiba, who got promoted to class 7 automatically this year, was very upset about it as she did not get to say goodbye to her class teacher and decorate the classroom for the class party. She was not so happy about the online classes because of too much screen time among many other reasons.
However, the 13-year-old suddenly found something very interesting to beat the lockdown blues back in April when she took animation classes at The Tech Academy (TTA) through her school Scholastica.
"I loved the animation classes during the shutdown and the classes were so cool. I learned how to move objects in Blender (3D content creation programme) which was an exciting experience," Labiba told The Business Standard.
Scholastica is one of the first schools in the capital which has affiliations with the TTA that works to simplify education for kids. Very soon, TTA plans to collaborate with other schools across the country.
Shams Jaber is the person behind this great innovative idea, which is now taking Bangladeshi students at the international level and empowering them to participate in Robot Olympiad.
TTA started its journey back in 2013 as an alternative school for children in Dhaka. It offers programming, robotics, animation, game development, 3D modelling, and engineering for kids aged between eight and sixteen. It is also known as the first institute in Bangladesh to teach robotics education to children.
As a kid, Shams never liked the traditional education system and he always had a quest for something "out of the box". Subsequently, he took an unconventional way of teaching after dropping out of Brac University.
"When we first started, kids used to take robotics and other classes as an after-school programme. Before that, I was teaching the underprivileged children," Shams told The Business Standard.
"Why did I choose this unconventional path of teaching? It is because when I was a kid, the traditional way of teaching did not allure me, and I am sure many people feel that way."
Why did I choose this unconventional path of teaching? It is because when I was a kid, the traditional way of teaching did not allure me, and I am sure many people feel that way
Shams is a self-taught person who likes learning new things by reading books, or through hands-on experience.
"But our school education is taught from the surface. It is okay not to understand the subject as long as you can just memorise it, and I hated it growing up as a kid."
Shams is from Chattogram. He graduated high school from William Carey Academy. He moved to Dhaka to attend university, but in 2013, he dropped out of university because he felt the same monotonous, mundane school education system was being repeated there.
"I am very lucky to have supportive parents, and they showed their concerns over whether I had made the right decision, but there was no pressure from them," said Shams.
Back then, he was living with his maternal uncle. He then left his uncle's house to go on with his endeavours. That was when he started teaching street kids in his own way.
"I had to stop that endeavour as getting funds was not so easy always," said Shams in a gloomy voice.
"Later, I found out more about robotics and figured that it was going to be useful for school kids. So, I learned it myself and got help from a friend and started offering the courses for school kids whose parents were able to support those."
"At TTA, we follow the gamification of education approach and make it enjoyable for kids so that they can learn with joy," he added.
At TTA, we follow the gamification of education approach and make it enjoyable for kids so that they can learn with joy
Over the years, TTA became a hub for kids to learn about science and technology in a fun way. The tech school is also backed by its technology firm which sells innovations designed by its students.
Due to the on-going Covid-19 pandemic, TTA currently offers online courses using digital distribution platform Discord. To avoid internet connection disruptions, the TTA team always have back-up plans. For example, teachers use fully-charged laptops and mobile phones.
Teachers also use hotspots using mobile data if there is any Wi-Fi disruption. Students are also encouraged to have those back-ups, if possible, for emergencies.
There are 13 people working at TTA who play various roles. Fardin, Neel, Mehzabin, Ryad, and Fabi conduct various courses among others.
Most of the TTA teachers studied electrical and electronics engineering or computer science at different universities. Besides their academic background, they also developed their skills by getting involved with diverse clubs of their respective universities and from the internet.
The teachers, who are dedicated and work with passion, stated that the experience of working closely with kids is very exciting.
In the near future, TTA plans to expand outside Bangladesh to provide its gamified futuristic technology education to children anywhere in the world.
I am sure The Tech Academy will be providing kids with gamified education in many countries of the world. I have confidence that The Tech Academy will become an institution
"I am sure The Tech Academy will be providing kids with gamified education in many countries of the world. I have confidence that The Tech Academy will become an institution," Shams said in a resolute tone.
During its eight-year journey, TTA has taught around 650 kids. Currently, 150 students are enrolled for various courses both individually and through Scholastica.
The fee for each course is Tk4,000.