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Unique children's helpline

Monday, June 24, 2019

We recently came across reports of a helpline in Kerala, launched this year, that answers questions that younger children are particularly curious about. Questions such as – ‘Why does a mango change colour when it ripens?’ or ‘How does temperature fall in a refrigerator’ or ‘How do fans produce wind?’ or even ‘Why is the sky blue in colour?’ etc. Started by the Kerala Forest Research Institute (KFRI) the ‘First Question’ helpline, as it is appropriately called, is meant to encourage the practice of children asking questions about science and nature and aims to provide them with scientifically sound yet understandable answers. According to Dr TV Sajeev of KFRI: “Children are innately curious beings and tend to ask many questions. Not answering their questions will do more harm than good, because it will stunt their inherent need to ask and learn.” It is with this in mind that the First Question helpline was begun. The helpline, considered to be the first of its kind for children in India, is being managed by 20 research scholars from the institute with help from around 50 subject matter experts and scientists across the state. While the institute encourages children to use the helpline to clarify their doubts, it has not barred parents or teachers from utilising the service. The helpline is also not restricted to residents of Kerala alone but encourages citizens from all across the country to call in on the number 0487-2690222 (Monday to Friday -- from 9.30am to 5.30pm) to clarify their doubts.  We think it’s a sterling idea and one well worth implementing in every city! Wot say?

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