Spreading the joy of Mathematics to six more districts.

Karnataka State Government rolls out Phase 2 of Ganitha Kalika Andolana in collaboration with Akshara Foundation.

October 20, 2016: The Karnataka State Government and Akshara Foundation, today signed a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to roll out Phase 2 of Ganitha Kalika Andolana (GKA) – a Public-Private Partnership Programme to improve numeracy skills and facilitate classroom teaching of Mathematics. This phase will include all government primary schools in Bengaluru Rural, Chamarajanagara, Chitradurga, Chikkaballapura, Dharwad and Gadag Districts of Karnataka.

In June 2015, the State Government, supported through the Hyderabad Karnataka Regional Development Board (HKRDB) and Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) had launched Phase 1 of GKA in the six districts of the Hyderabad-Karnataka region, namely Gulbarga, Yadgir, Raichur, Koppal, Bellary and Bidar.

Following the Honorable Chief Minister of Karnataka’s budget announcement for the year 2016-17 made on 18th March, 2016 related to the ‘expansion of activity based Math Programme for grades 4th and 5th in government primary schools’, Phase 2 of GKA will reach out to approximately 1.36 lakh students of grades 4 and 5, in approximately 4,930 Government Primary schools in Bengaluru Rural, Chamarajanagara, Chitradurga, Chikkaballapura, Dharwad and Gadag Districts.

Akshara Foundation will be in charge of developing and providing the content for the Ganitha Kalika Andolana kits, teacher’s manual and concept cards; developing and distributing math videos that will demonstrate all the math concepts taught till grade 5 with the use of TLMs provided in the kit and monitoring and assessment of the children’s learning levels through the course of the programme.

The State Government through SSA will ensure that the Math Kits are procured and delivered to all the schools in the six districts and that the teachers and resource persons are trained. Akshara Foundation will bring in the Master Trainers for this phase of the programme as well.

The comprehensive teaching methodology envisaged in the GKA programme is compliant with the guidelines prescribed by the National Curriculum Framework 2005 and supports the textbooks and workbooks designed by the Karnataka Department of State Educational Research and Training (DSERT).

Only about a fifth of the children studying in Grade 5 of Government primary schools in India are able to do basic division, putting them behind children in private schools at the same level. Akshara Foundation, in partnership with the Karnataka government and Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan aims to bridge this very gap and reach out to all primary schoolchildren across Karnataka by the year 2020 through this programme.

About GKA: Ganitha Kalika Andolana is a model support programme aimed at bridging learning gaps in math among children in grades four and five by using an activity based creative approach and peer learning rather than rote application of mathematical concepts. The programme also aims to build significant math capacity among teachers in the state.

About SSA: Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) is Government of India’s flagship programme for achievement of Universalization of Elementary Education (UEE) in a time bound manner, as mandated by 86th amendment to the Constitution of India making free and compulsory Education to the Children of 6-14 years age group, a Fundamental Right.

About Akshara Foundation: Akshara Foundation was set up with a mission to ensure Every Child in School and Learning Well. We believe that quality education is the undeniable right of every child and children should not be deprived of it just because they do not have access to it or the resources to realise their dreams.

Visit: www.akshara.org.in
Media Contact:
Bharathi Ghanashyam – bharathiksg@gmail.com

CELEBRATING six months of Ganitha Kalika Andolana

Akshara Foundation, in partnership with the Karnataka government and Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, launched a math programme called Ganitha Kalika Andolana (GKA) in June 2015.

It aims to improve numeracy skills in over 300,000 students in 7520 Government primary schools across North Karnataka.

Six months of GKA are already behind us and we are happy to share that increasingly children in government primary schools are enjoying learning math.

We know because we hear from teachers, community leaders, volunteers and children. The achievements of this movement are many. And so are our supporters, like you.

Here’s a look at our journey so far…
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Do spread the word about this movement by sharing this video.

More power to the #GKAMathMovement. Enjoy!

Prepping the teachers for Ganitha Kalika Andolana.

Teacher training under Ganitha Kalika Andolana in Koppal districtIMG_1161I was eagerly looking forward to visiting a centre where the Teacher training was in progress. I got the opportunity in Koppal district, one of the 6 districts in the Hyderabad–Karnataka region, where the Ganitha Kalika Andolana (GKA) is being rolled out by the Government of Karnataka along with Akshara Foundation.IMG_1254The first visit was outside Koppal town, down a rutted mud road, which deposited us inside the pleasant compound of the Urdu HPS school. The teacher training was in progress and the participants were fairly engaged in doing the task given by the Resource Persons (RPs)– in this case it was a revision of the multiplication process using the Teaching-learning material provided in the Akshara Math Kit. There were three RPs, all of them High School math teachers, who had a clear grasp of the principles behind the pedagogy and were confidently answering the queries.IMG_1259When the topic of fractions was started, one teacher wanted to know why the fractions in Kannada should not be named as ‘one-fifth’, for instance, instead of ‘five parts of which one’ – to loosely translate the practice in the Kannada language.Finally we agreed that it is best to teach children terminology that is used in the text-book, which also maintains uniformity across all schools in the state. I was touched when one of the RPs picked up the Teacher Manual and told me, “This Manual is the Bhagavad Gita – it has everything we need to teach maths!”IMG_1309At the second training center we visited, the participants were sitting out under the shade of a tree, since it was a small and stuffy room allotted for the training. Here too there was a High School teacher who was conducting the session single-handedly, with assistance from Ramesh, Akshara’s District Coordinator.IMG_1332Many of the teachers were in some confusion about converting time on the 12 hour clock to the 24 hour clock; an interesting session on area and perimeter followed. They admitted that in the school the portions relating to geometry were usually hurried through at the end of the academic year.IMG_1211There was a request for extending the training by one more day so that adequate time could be given for activities. The RP was very grateful that “Akshara has given such a beautiful Kit to students in Government schools.”See how the two days were spent by all these teachers and RPs, in pictures. – By Kanchan Bannerjee

CHANGING THE WAY 3,00,000 CHILDREN SEE MATH.

We launched Ganitha Kalika Andolana (GKA) with a lot of gusto, amid even more applause. This first-of-its-kind programme in partnership with the Karnataka Government and Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan is going to cover 3,00,000 children in over 7,500 schools. We know what you’re thinking – that’s a huge figure.

But for us, it’s just the beginning. Or as we like to call it, Phase 1. Getting a programme like this to be rolled out in six districts was relatively simple. It is getting the children taught in the right manner using this kit – that’s the BIG challenge.Akshara_In-School Programme_059 When resource people and teachers, the people who are going to spearhead its progress hereon see the contents of the Big Box or the GKA kit for the very first time, they are awestruck and taken aback at the same time. They are torn between a ‘wow’ and a ‘How am I going to use all this and teach math?’1It’s simple, really. With some seriously-intensive training. And no puns intended. Training is an integral part of every new beginning, and is necessary for a smooth transition, progress and therefore, success.

Within days of the Andolana going LIVE, all training charts had been drawn up and calls started pouring in. Everyone seemed keen on getting this show on the road. There are three levels to the GKA training programme. The first level was training given by Akshara Foundation to the Master Resource Persons. The second was a 3-day session exclusively for Cluster Resource Persons (CRPs) and experienced teacher trainers from all clusters, trained by Master Resource Persons of Akshara Foundation.1 From 23rd June to 30th September ’15, out of 1,400 resource people to be trained, we covered 1,280 – about 120 CRPs have yet to be assigned to their clusters by the state education department. Hardly had they been trained, they were eager to begin the 3rd round of training immediately.

For instance, within a few days of their training, the resource people at Devadurga waited impatiently for the kits to arrive. The minute they did, they fixed the 23rd of July to kick-start the teachers’ level of training. The third and final round will see these CRPs transfer their knowledge to the 8,300 teachers of the government primary schools in all districts. And as of 31st July ’15, around 684 teachers have already been trained.DSC_0357We visited a 2nd level training programme in Urdu, at Gulbarga and could not help but share our experience. A group of 30 uncertain looking people slowly trickled into the classroom, unsure of what to expect over the next three days. They all had one common expression – why in the world was Akshara teaching them basic math?DSC_0176 The group was trained by Mr. Deshpande and Mr. Kulkarni, retired educationists who were first trained by Akshara Foundation. Nothing could have braced these 30 for what was about to hit them. Out came the blocks, foam squares and beaded ropes, to explain how they could be used in Addition and Subtraction. And with that, their eyes started widening with interest. Addition and Subtraction later, the group was hooked.DSC_0215They could not peel their eyes away from the board. Frantic notes were being taken, questions fired, things being pulled out of the kits to see how they could do it on their own. It was chaos, fun and learning, all rolled into one roller-coaster class. This was followed by multiplication, division, fractions… slowly every one of the 21 items were used to cover the entire 4th and 5th standard syllabi. After each concept, they kept exclaiming if it could interest them this much, imagine how the children will love this way of learning.  DSC_0335They were busy solving math problem after problem, using element after element. The paper money, base 10 blocks and foam squares seemed to catch their fancy the most. It was amazing to see how they had all become children in class all over again, learning to love math the way it should be loved. DSC_0242And this is just one such success story, from one of the training programmes. Imagine the sheer magnanimity of this movement when all 8,300 teachers and 1,400 resource people join in as enthusiastically!Check out our entire album on the 2nd level of training sessions.  

10 essential facts you need to know about Karnataka’s Math movement.

Did you know that the state of Karnataka has come up with an incredible antidote to the drudgery of learning math in the classroom. To this end, the state government has started Ganitha Kalika Andolana (GKA) – a one of its kind math movement which is currently underway in the state and is making math fun, interesting and stimulating enough for both students as well as teachers. Here are a few interesting facts about this silent movement that is influencing the way math is taught in government schools…


Read on to find your way to the movement:

1. The game of numbers
Ganitha Kalika Andolana, is set to benefit 3 lakh children in classes 4 and 5 across 7520 schools in the six districts of the Hyderabad Karnataka Region.

2. More power to the exponents
Karnataka’s math movement is one of its kind public-private partnership (PPP) between the state government and Akshara Foundation, a non-profit.

3. Factoring the lowest common denominator
The math movement is currently on in the Hyderabad-Karnataka region of the statewhere development indices are consistently low. The six districts of Hyderabad Karnataka Region are considered most educationally backward and the region is conferred with special status in the state under Article 371J of the Constitution.

4. Weapons of math instruction
The math movement is backed with attractive, well researched teaching and learning material (TLM), math videos, pop-culture posters and teacher manuals in Kannada, Urdu and English. Designed with flair and care, these can tempt even an adult maths-phobe to give Math a shot. Brightly coloured counters, beads, dices, clocks, plastic currency, miniature weighing scale, exciting videos and much more – all of it is certainly giving math learning a new dimension.

5. Keeping a count
Ganitha Kalika Andolana is also supported by an Interactive Voice Response (IVRS) facility. Share real time data on the usage of math teaching aids, voice your concerns and make the movement a success – all of this just by making one call.

6. Grammy sensation
Grammy award winner Ricky Kej has composed a catchy math anthem in both Kannada and English for the math movement. Also available for download as a song and phone ringtone, the anthem is already a hit with both students and teachers.

7. License to common creativity
Not in Karnataka but still want to use all teaching resources? As partner to the math movement, Akshara Foundation has made all the resources freely available under the Creative Commons License. Training manuals, math videos, concept cards – all of them just a click away. Go download!

8. Keep it safe – part of the equation
The state government has left no stone unturned to ensure that while the teaching and learning material is child friendly it is also non-toxic and completely safe to be used by children. All the teaching aids are certified to be non-toxic by National Referral Center for Lead Projects in India (NRCLPI).

9. Trained to score
This silent math movement is certainly stepping up the game for teachers. Nearly 8000 teachers are being trained in math teaching methodology, understanding the key principal and being motivated enough to achieve the ultimate goal. After all, inspired students require inspired teachers.

10. Math matters
And if you are wondering whether all this will really improve numeracy levels of children in the state, then stay tuned to hear more about Ganitha Kalika Andolana – Karnataka’s math movement where a third party appointed by SSA and DSERT will assess and analyse the impact of this effort.

So add these all up, get inspired and join the movement.

The math movement has just begun.

Join us in making 3 lac kids excel in numeracy skills.


Dear Akshara Supporter,

On June 23, 2015, Akshara Foundation and the Government of Karnataka together launched an innovative programme – Ganitha Kalika Andolana (GKA), to teach math to children in grades 4 and 5. This ambitious programme, through a series of interventions, aims to bring about higher learning levels in terms of numeracy skills in the six districts of Gulbarga, Bidar, Raichur, Bellary, Koppal and Yadgir.

Collectively these six districts form the Hyderabad Karnataka Region which is also the second largest arid region in India. Over the years, all measured human development indices are extremely poor in this region and reported figures show that these districts are at the bottom in the state of Karnataka in terms of health and education.

It is, in this needy region that the state government and Akshara Foundation decided to launch GKA. Over the next two years, the programme will build capacity at the local level for teaching math; equip teachers in government primary schools with all the tools required to transact better in their classrooms and the expectation is that math learning levels in children will improve significantly.

However, GKA is not only about our commitment towards a better future of our children. What we need to ask ourselves is – Is it enough for just the government and a NGO to work together to improve things or does everyone have a role to play? Akshara Foundation has chosen the term Andolana which loosely translates into ‘movement’ and we at Akshara believe there is a role for each one of us to play and make a small difference in bringing quality learning to the children of our state and country.

We believe that the time has come for all of us to recognise the gravity of our education problem and do our little bit to make the future better for our children and one way to do this is by improving the quality of education for our children. It’s time for each one of us to take a stand on the education of our children and turn it into a mass conversation.

Your support is critical because we now have an opportunity to break down the barriers to education which many children face. We need your voice too.

Please join the movement. Together we will make every child in school and learning well a reality.

Sincerely,

k

My first visit to a government school in rural India.

Seeing the schools in Kushtagi and Mundargi was the favourite part of my time with Akshara. Our school visits were unannounced, like the house visits, so we were able to see a real school day in progress, and Akshara was able to check on the students’ progress.

Another reason Akshara came to the schools was to see how, if at all, classrooms were utilising their GKA Kits. These kits contain educational resources for mathematics and English classes, such as counting mats and blocks and conversation sheets, that seem as if they should be standard in every classroom – especially the math tools. These are tools that helped me, as a younger student, visualise operations like addition and subtraction. They helped me learn when I was starting my primary education, so it made me optimistic to see the students in Mundargi and Kushtagi using the same tools so effectively.

When we initially arrived at the schools, the first thing that I noticed was the resourcefulness. The same resourcefulness that I saw in the residential areas is found in schools; class bells are made from small hammers tied to thick metal trays, small pillows are attached to blackboards by string to create erasers. Making do with what you have is a concept that has grown increasingly rare in countries like the U.S. and big cities, where shortage of resources is rarely felt.

Classroom copy

One area where this scarcity is not felt, however, is in style. By this, I mean the uniforms and book bags each student was equipped with, provided by the state government. Regardless of the poverty they encountered at home, every young student was clad in a blue and white uniform.

In the United States, most state-run school systems do not have uniforms, instead opting to set general dress codes (which are usually just lists of ‘do not’s, for example: girls, do not wear skirts or shorts more than four inches above the knee in length. Boys, do not wear your hair long … or shorts more than four inches above the knee). However, in private schools, like the one I attend, uniforms are standard. Most of us private school students love to hate the uniforms impressed upon us by the school administration because we have plenty of our own, more comfortable, clothes that we would much rather wear.

Despite this scarcity, these students thrive when given the opportunity. The bright (and adorable) students in the primary schools of Mundargi and Kushtagi share an enthusiasm for learning and a competitive spirit that shined through the dimly-lit classrooms when the Akshara team and I arrived.

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Whenever a math problem would be presented to the class, the children would rush to open their notebooks and solve the problem first, handing over their work for checking as soon as they finished. In the event a student was wrong, they would just as quickly start working the problem again. When a passage in English was to be read, virtually every student wanted to show us their ability to read and write in English, a refreshing difference from the culture of primary schools in America, where conformity is too-often valued over exceptionality.

To feed into students’ eagerness and curiosity, Akshara has set up libraries both in classrooms and local tea shops. Each library is stocked with age-appropriate books in both Kannada and English, to encourage students to expand their familiarity with both their local language and one more widely spoken.

I visited the villages on the right day because I was present for the inauguration of one such library, an event that attracted the Gram Panchayat of the village, as well as parents and students to the small café. Each person present was given a few books to put in the library, so no one was left out of the celebration. The concept of tea shop libraries is, I think, brilliant; the availability of books in both tea shops and schools expands opportunities to read for both students and parents and encourages parents to read with their children.

Tea_Shop

These visits to Mundargi and Kushtagi showed me a side of life I could never have imagined. They made me thankful for my plentiful life in the United States and optimistic about India’s future. India is a complex country with a variety of cultures and traditions. To lead in tomorrow’s world, it needs something or someone to help it achieve its vast potential – a good education is that something and Akshara is that someone.

– Ajay Dayal

CISCO makes Math fun.

We recently pulled out all the contents of Ganitha Kalika Andolana’s big White Box for you. It has a beaded rope, tape, blocks, foamed goodies, measuring tools, and weighing balance etc. In a nutshell, everything a child needs to understand every Math concept in his/her syllabus.

But explaining each concept is no nutshell of a job. It’s creative, challenging, easy and tough, all at the same time. Which is why, we decided to come up with as many ways as possible for the teacher to use as ready reckoners, while teaching Math.

And what made it better, our friends at CISCO Bangalore, decided to huddle together one day and brainstorm for us. Eager yet cautious faces greeted our entire team, as we began the fun afternoon. The sheer magnanimity of the things being pulled out of the box seemed to deter them at first.

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But once they got the hang of the entire kit, the place was abuzz. The entire group was divided into three large groups. Team A had to come up with pictorial representations for addition, subtraction, multiplication, division and number counting using the abacus, beaded rope and base ten blocks. Team B got Fractions and Decimals, while Team C tackled Geometry.

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What followed was a few hours of excited squeals, quiet pondering, hushed discussions and noisy exclamations. Each team further divided themselves, so that they could come up with as many representative options as possible.

“It’s the most interactive session we have ever had” said Blessie, the chirpy and ever helpful team member of the CISCO volunteer team. “But a lot of the credit also goes to our leadership team. They push us a lot, “ she added without being able to pry her eyes away from the coloured blocks.

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It was amazing to see how 30 odd adults became a class of 30 in no time at all. While one team was busy dunking the foam strips in water and having fun, another was busy experimenting with stick figures. And yet another team was deep in discussion, ensuring theirs was the best :)

And the most exciting part for us was the fact that we actually got a great number of options to choose from, at the end!

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Soujanya, who has been interning for around 5 months was a little intimidated with the colourful yet unknown things overflowing from the white box. “It took us a while to get the hang of how different things are used, but on the whole, very interesting.” And so she continued adding the finishing touches to her group’s presentation.

A brainstorming session of this kind was an excellent way for this enthusiastic bunch to also experience the Math kit first hand. And a lot of them actually realised how challenging it is, to think at a 4th grade child’s level.

Sachin, who has taught in government schools before, confirms that a pictorial way is the most effective method of retention. He adds, “This sort of system with a pictorial representation of concepts helps schools where teachers are fewer in number, and they multitask. Many of these concepts can also help the kids directly.”

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As the session drew to a close, the teams got busy documenting their ideas.The last team that remained was a particularly interesting one. Khyati from that team, who has been with CISCO for a couple of years now, is from a government school herself.

Her excitement with an assignment like this is definitely above anyone else’s. While she was one of the lucky few to actually get a scholarship from Udyan Care, many don’t get that luxury. “Which is why, I am a part of the volunteer group. I want to give back to schools like mine, where getting a sound education is difficult.”

Reasons big or small, it was heartening to see so many people come together for the sake of education. And we thank them all for their time and effort in helping us take that one step ahead. Looking forward to many more brainstorming sessions. :)

You can see how the entire afternoon spanned out here.

Shipped: 702 boxes of fun.

The last few days have been really exciting for all of us at Akshara.
The first batch of our Ganitha Kalika Andolana kits, 702 of them to be precise, were successfully shipped and delivered.1Every success story comes with its share of funny anecdotes and drama.
So does ours, starting with the clouds opening up and showering us, to the mail van getting lost to finally getting stuck under a few branches.2Finally the bright red van found us. How? Well, they were passing by a place with white and blue boxes spilling out, and screeched to a halt.3Set back by a couple of hours, we got to work. A loading line as efficient as ours took just under an hour to load all boxes in.
Beat that!4Our enthusiasm and excitement even got to the friendly folks from the post office. So much so that the officer-in-charge joined our well-oiled belt of hands as well.Screen Shot 2015-07-15 at 11.38.49 pmAnd there we were, just over an hour later, closing the doors with one resounding bolt. And off they were, all 702 kits of the #GKAMathMovement, ready to spread the joy of Math to children.5The kits have reached their destinations and will be distributed to the schools soon.


View the entire album here.


Music courtesy: CrystalFissure. Used for non-commercial purposes only.

THE BIG WHITE BOX.

Our exhilaration and adrenaline highs have been official for a while now. Akshara Foundation is going to change the way 300,000 children learn Math this academic year with the #GKAMathMovement.

This movement, in collaboration with the state government and Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan formally goes by the name Ganitha Kalika Andolana (GKA). It’s aimed at improving Math levels in over 7500 schools across six districts in Karnataka.

Akshara_In-School Programme_108
But everyone has one question.
HOW? By teaching kids? A new curriculum? A calculator for each child?
Simple. With one big white box.

But it’s been no simple task coming to this answer.
This is a result of years of trials and errors, pilots and their consequential success.

Ashok Kamath, chairman of Akshara Foundation says, “When we approached the state government with our request for GKA in 2013, we were armed with results from our efforts in Hoskote, Kushtagi and Mundargi Blocks – about 575 schools – where we realised a significant improvement in math learning proficiencies in children.”
Akshara_In-School Programme_040
And thus the Ganitha Kalika Andolana or #GKAMathMovement came into being. The big white box will now be used to help children across the state.

The kit consists of teaching-learning materials (TLMs) that demystify Mathematics and sets it out in simple terms, teacher-training and teacher-support for effective instruction. What is more, the GKA methodology is compatible with the National Curriculum Framework (NCF) 2005 guidelines and the class textbooks.
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You need to be there to feel that excitement when that big white box is opened up in each classroom. The children already have their favourites picked out. While one reaches for the soft squares that will help him with fractions, another reaches out for his all time favourite, the abacus and its colourful counterparts. Within minutes the entire kit is in play all across the classroom.
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With increasing curiosity about the #GKAMathMovement, here’s a sneak peek into the heroes that make up our Math kit.

1. The ever-dependable abacus

These red, yellow, blue and green hued discs help children add and subtract in a systematic yet interesting way. While the vivid colours retain their attention span, the excitement of spinning around a disc or two with their friends brings out quite a few chuckles.
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   2. Block of buddies

Following the lines of the abacus, we also have the same hued square counters as an alternative to help them add and subtract. Yellow blocks are meant for the units’ place, blue for tens’, green for hundreds’ and red for the thousands’ place.
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3. Play money

Now which kid doesn’t love playing ‘house’ or ‘to-the-market’? If you thought kitchen toys and wax fruit made their eyes sparkle, imagine what paper money does to them.

The paper money in our kit helps children relate to real-life problems and apply it while solving a problem. It’s almost like the real thing, which is very exciting for them.
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4. Cushy Counters

Give them a dip in water and they stick to any surface. For days. No really. These foam squares and fraction strips help children with fractions and decimals.
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5. Weighing scale and beakers

A weighing scale, some beakers and water provide a lot of entertainment for children as they discover for themselves whether 250ml is heavier than 150ml and how water can be used to measure the weight of a beaker. For many this is a real-life situation, as their parents run or work in vegetable or grocery shops.
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6. Red and white counting system

Learning Math can be easy. And the red and white beaded rope is proof of this. Add a bunch of clothes clips and your tool is ready. One can add, subtract and even multiply using this colourful and very handy device.
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Apart from these, a measuring tape, a bag of coins, a place value mat and a clock among others also make it to each kit.

Want to see exactly how each unit can be used? Catch our Math videos here!

The Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2014 has revealed that only 20.1 percent of class 5 students in government schools in Karnataka can do simple division.
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In the words of Ashok Kamath, “Through this programme we are committed towards a problem solving approach to Mathematics teaching and learning outcomes, improved pedagogy, assessments, training and capacity building of teachers. We also want to ensure quality access to education in government schools, and Ganitha Kalika Andolana is a step forward in that direction.”

Can’t wait to get a kit for your kids now? Get in touch with Idek already!