Need for strategic infrastructure planning in colleges and educational institutes

Dovetail furniture, School furniture

Classroom design, auditoriums, laboratories, seating arrangement, etc. are crucial elements of a learning environment. Classroom design and aesthetics such as seating arrangement, furniture settings and interior design have a major impact on a student’s learning and thus the outcome.

Why does infrastructure planning matter?

Poor building conditions such as dark classrooms with no proper ventilation, broken furniture, leaky washrooms, poorly maintained cafeterias and pantry areas, messed-up library arrangement creates a negative environment among the students about the institution and this adversely affects student’s learning outcome.

Classroom environment is one of the most important predictors of a student’s achievement, where environment and design elements of the institution infrastructure have considerable impact on student’s academic progress. Poor building condition results in the negative perception of the institution, which in turn can impact a student’s learning.

Having realized the importance of infrastructure in educational institutions, many organizations are now giving importance to this aspect of the institutions as well. For instance, The World Bank team has been working with the government of Romania for investing on education infrastructure.

Effective infrastructure planning

Effective infrastructure planning for educational institutions is one factor that creates positive and conducive atmosphere for a student’s learning. Be it a theory or a practical class, it must encourage students to get actively involved.

Classrooms are the backbone of any education institution. It must be spacious, well ventilated with natural air and light and interiors must also be well designed. Seats and tables must be ergonomically designed in order to provide comfort to the students. Classrooms must also be well equipped with the latestechnology like AV systems, projectors, and Wi-Fi hotspots. Classroom arrangements must encourage students to work individually and as a team as well. Remember, a flexible learning place is the new trend that enables all of these.

Seating and furniture must also be given equal importance while planning classroom design. Ergonomics in the classroom is often neglected in the designing phase. Proper ergonomic seating has an impact on a student’s learning and outcome. Naturally, ergonomically designed seating are comfortable and thus provide relaxed and convenient seating to the students. This in turn leads to better attention and concentration in the class.

Well-equipped labs encourage students to perform lab activities more effectively. It prompts students to translate their theory learnings into practical results. Having a well-planned and designed labs can avoid clutter and provide space for students to store materials conveniently. It also allows them to access equipments like Bunsen burners, sinks, electrical sockets etc. with ease when required.

The library is a resource for any educational institution. It has an important role to play in both learning and teaching. It acts as an extended classroom. Well-designed libraries allow for efficient storage that suits students of different age groups. Libraries must also be flexible to incorporate technologies like e-library, digital books, access to central library and libraries across the campus in various locations.  There should be designated spaces that allows for reading and discussions as this enhances collaborative efforts among students.  They could also incorporate accessories like step ladders to improve the experience of using a library.

Infrastructure should not just focus on facilities for students, but also for teachers. According to a research published in the Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, a staff-room not only functions as a physical space, but also a social, cultural and emotional space for its occupants.

Institutions must consider recreational centers such as space for indoor activities, acoustic studios for musical performances, gym, etc. as an integral part of education infrastructure rather as an add-on. They should have recreational centers with the right kind of furniture that helps create a conducive atmosphere for students to spend time inside the campus for longer duration.

The playground is another vital component of education infrastructure. It contributes to the physical and mental wellness of a student and creates a positive atmosphere in the campus. Playgrounds must be multi-functional, flexible and safe. It must also be spacious enough to support various sports at the same time.

The key mantra for effective infrastructure planning is space utilization, proper classroom design, seating and furniture, good facilities for both teachers and students. Pedagogy complemented with supporting infrastructure can create wonders in a student’s learning and outcome.

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