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ENGLISH | KANNADA

It Takes A Village To Raise A Child

Akshara has always believed in the power of strong engagement with the community way before it became fashionable and enshrined in the National Education Policy 2020 (NEP2020). And it was this power that we put to test in the 22-week period between May 1, 2021 and September 18, 2021.

Akshara’s Education Volunteers and Gram Panchayat (GP) Team Leaders have been our source of strength across the rural landscape. In Karnataka, we have nearly 18,000 of them across 24 districts.

When we sensed there was reluctance amongst the rural populations to take the Covid-19 vaccine, we put our small army to work in a focused manner – their charter was (a) first to get vaccinated themselves; (b) convince and facilitate the vaccination of their neighbours with the help of the local state administration.

And this group worked wonders. In the 22-week period they managed to facilitate the vaccination of 5.12 million people. Here is a table that shows what they have done.

We are now asking ourselves the question – if this group of community volunteers can do so much in such a short time, we think they can be of immense value in ensuring that our children get quality education especially at the foundational stages.

Our thanks to this army and we are sure you, the reader, will also feel good about this life-saving performance.

We’ve been asked by many organisations and volunteers on how they can take this forward similarly, in areas where they work. We’ve created this 10-step guide in the hope that it helps them reach out to as many people as we have, and a step forward towards the entire country being vaccinated against the Covid-19 virus.

– Penned by Ashok Kamath, Chairman, Akshara Foundation

#MissionSuvidya and Akshara Foundation to spread the joy of literacy and numeracy to tribal/Adivasi children in Odisha

The ST & SC Development, Minorities & Backward Classes Welfare Department, Odisha and Akshara Foundation, today signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for Mission Suvidya.

Launched by Chief Minister Shri Naveen Patnaik on December 4, 2019, #MissionSuvidya aims to bring qualitative improvement in accommodation provided in 6500 hostels managed by the ST & SC Dev. Department, Govt. of Odisha with about 5.7 lakh students. The mission will provide congenial atmosphere by guaranteeing quality services in safety, health, hygiene and food.



In a move that impacts about 225,000 children in the most difficult areas of the state, the ST & SC Development, Minorities & Backward Classes Welfare Department will collaborate with Akshara Foundation to ensure ‘Improvements in the Quality of Education in the Department’s Schools & Hostels across Odisha’.

Under #MissionSuvidya, along with Akshara Foundation, two other MoUs were signed with Quality Council of India (for assessment of ST & SC hostels leading to quality assurance & sustenance for ISO 9001:2015 certification) and TRIFED India (to market linkages of various products created by tribal artisans and entrepreneurs in the state.)



The MoU with Akshara Foundation recognises the organisation as a knowledge partner of the state’s ST & SC department where they will share all their know-how with the department on delivering quality education (Numeracy, Literacy and Library programmes) in government schools that have children purely from tribal/Adivasi communities.



The specific programmes that will be implemented are:
1. School Readiness Programme (SRP) for Grade 1 Students- SRP involves 8 weeks of developmentally appropriate instruction designed to bolster a child’s pre-literacy and pre-numeracy skills, with additional modules on motor skills and social skills.

2. Classroom/Hostel Library Programme- Classroom/Reading room set-up for promoting reading habits in children as well as training of teachers in tracking improvements in reading proficiency.

3. Ganitha Kalika Andolana(GKA) in primary schools- GKA is a classroom intervention aligned with Odisha’s state curriculum for mathematics and modalities include provisioning Mathematics Teaching Learning Materials (TLM) to schools, capacity building of teachers on activity based learning and access to online support. This programme is already being implemented in other government schools across the state.

4. Digital Learning Solutions in schools/hostels- Curriculum aligned digital learning solutions for primary grades to be made accessible in hostels for subjects viz. Mathematics & English.

5. Digital Assessments Infrastructure for students in schools/hostels- Develop and implement digital assessment infrastructure which can help teachers in conducting formative assessments and track learners’ progress.

About Akshara’ Foundation’s partnership with DSME: Akshara Foundation is an existing partner to Department of School & Mass Education (DSME), Odisha in implementing Ganitha Kalika Andolana across all government primary schools of the state for creating fear-free math classrooms and improving math learning outcomes. The primary objective of the programme is to remove the math fear from students and provide tools to the teacher for making math enjoyable and will support them in their regular classrooms; in short, to improve foundational numeracy. A pilot was started in 4000 primary schools of Balangir & Rayagada and the programme has been extended to all districts of the state in 2019.

About Akshara Foundation: Akshara Foundation was set up as a Public Charitable Trust in Karnataka in March 2000 and focuses on issues concerning Early Childhood and Primary Education. It has partnered with multiple state governments and has floated programmes at scale namely- School Readiness Programme, Library Programme, Ganitha Kalika Andolana, and digital interventions namely Easy English & Building Blocks. All of these programmes are designed to strengthen foundational literacy and numeracy in students in primary grades and supplement existing government efforts. The programmes involve provisioning of teaching inputs to government primary schools and extensive capacity building of teachers

MY COVID-19 STORY

I was recently admitted in hospital for COVID-19 and fortunately discharged, soon enough. I thought I would put down some personal experiences and thoughts.

In late February 2021 after a long nine-month, literal lockdown at home, my son wanted to hang out for a couple of hours with his friends. We too at home, fed up of seeing a young man not able to breathe the air in the happening world, relaxed the rules, and let him go out for a couple of hours. For the past year, in the neighbourhood and among relatives, our family has been known as the ‘OVER CAUTIOUS COVID FAMILY’. People often made fun of us. Our flower vendor once said it is a rich man’s infection and nothing will happen to the poor!

After he got back home, my son followed COVID home protocols as a precaution and made sure that he didn’t come near any one of us, especially his octogenarian grandmother so that she is protected. After his self-isolation of two days, he said his body was aching and that he had a slight temperature. This was in the third week of February, which was an almost flat COVID period. I had to travel on work and thought maybe it would be a good idea to get him and myself tested before I left.

There came the report which said my son was positive, while I turned out to be negative. Well, we followed the protocols as the doctor prescribed, like home isolation with nutritional supplements and constant monitoring of temperature and saturation levels. He completed 14 days of isolation with very mild symptoms and entered the recovery cycle. The story didn’t stop there! The invisible little virus had weakened his muscles slightly and we had to consult the doctor in-person after 4 weeks. As concerned parents, my husband and I, double masked et accompanied him. By the way, by then my mother-in-law, my husband, and I had already gotten our first jab of the vaccine.

The next day, my husband started getting body aches and a slight feverish feeling. The next day we made a trip to the hospital. My husband tested positive and isolated himself quickly. I started wearing the mask and distancing myself from my mother-in-law. By the evening, I thought of getting tested even though I had no symptoms. The next day, I got a positive report.

My isolation started in another room and now my mother-in-law cooked and my son supplied all that she needed. The first two days were okay, but my fever crept up and I was asked to get admitted. My CT scan showed no patches and I was given Fabiflu and other relevant medicines and discharged saying that I was perfectly fine. The hospital made some small mistakes like messing up my medicine sequencing and not including crucial information in the discharge summary. The CT film and report were not included in the discharge summary as well. The nurse asked me to collect it from the radiology section. Since I was positive, I was not allowed to enter the section so I asked the boy who accompanied me in the lift to collect it and hand it over to me. The section first denied that I had ever had a CT done, but my repeated request to the onlookers (who were supposed to be part of the hospital) got me my report but not the film. Again another round of requests later, I gate-crashed into the section, shouted and finally got it. Those 45 minutes of torture made me wonder, ‘why can’t hospitals get a proper process in place’? By allowing me to be there in the vicinity, I put everyone vulnerable to the infection and also added a load of stress on myself, the patient. Or is it that the system is NOT ready to handle these cases?

Once I got back home, the doctor was courteous enough to respond to my WhatsApp messages and instructed me on what to do. The problem was I started having a roller coaster ride as far as the fever and cough were concerned. My cough became terrible to the extent that I could not even talk. My appetite went out the window, and I started vomiting. I almost felt like I was being put in a front loading washing machine and getting spun and swirled, thrown up and down.

In my journey so far, the only silver lining was that my saturation level never dropped below 96.

The inconvenience that I was going through made the doctor advise me to repeat the CT. I went back to the same hospital and got it done and there they saw patches and a person in the fever clinic asked me to get admitted. But there were no beds. I almost broke down and by then I was also seeing how patients were requesting for beds and the staff was feeling bad turning them down. So I waited for my doctor to see me in the fever clinic lounge. He saw my CT and said since my saturation was good there was nothing to worry about. He assured me that nothing would happen and asked me to be relaxed and go home. I did so till late that evening. But by night my cough became unbearable and I was completely drained out. I needed to get admitted, asap. Thankfully, we got a bed by the following morning. I was given a room in a Female General Ward with six of us sharing a common washroom.

Another doctor, another scan, another set of investigations followed. The doctor started the treatment. He wanted to start with Remdesivir. He was told at the time of admission that there was Remdesivir in the pharmacy but when he came for the visit he found that there was no stock. I had to wait for a day to see if it got supplied. Somehow we managed to get the first two doses from outside and the remaining supplies from the hospital. My treatment finally began!

The next morning I heard a running commentary from a mom admitted in the next room about how to switch on the gas stove to boil the milk and manage other household chores! She had left her two young children 11 and 5 locked up in the house and was admitted here, with her mother in the ICU. Her husband was away in Hyderabad to take care of his father, who was critical.

Six rooms, 10 human stories. This is a Female General Ward with six rooms and two shared washrooms. A luxury, we felt. A gynecologist admitted in another room, whose husband was in the ICU, a Bank Manager with high blood sugar, a lady in the early stages of pregnancy, a young nurse from the same hospital who turned positive, and an elderly woman who was completely lost in this whole situation. We felt the situation wasn’t different from a war-affected region. ‘Sister, sister where should she go?’ One sister, six patients and all calling her at the same time! Someone wanted her to get them a tablet, someone’s drip had stopped, someone was vomiting and another’s oxygen mask had slipped. In between, she was sending someone to the OT, handling new admissions, and managing discharge summaries.

A night duty nurse told me that post her COVID recovery her blood pressure continued to be high. She had a 10-year-old at home. I feel terrible about the way we treat our frontline warriors. They are risking their lives all the time. The doctor! No words to explain it! Relentlessly visiting us two to three times a day, patiently listening and physically checking us. They are from a different planet!

Coming to medicines, forget critical ones like Remdesivir. Even generic medicines like Dolo fell short. The nurse would go around from room to room, checking if anyone had surplus with them and made small adjustments to make sure we were all medicated as per the prescription.

On my first day in the ward, they kept saying that the very scarce Remdesivir would come. They knew someone who had information from Drugs Control that it would be supplied by the end of the day. The drug didn’t arrive so some patients had to miss the course in between and continue when it was supplied. The scarcity was so bad that one of the hospital staff asked me to keep mine safely in my bag! Scarcity can lead to anything! I saw another patient literally pleading for one vial. Gosh! What was this?

Despite this, I had a great experience in getting to know people, getting emotionally connected and to some extent, being able to extend some help. I felt moved when my neighbour, a doctor-patient, thanked me for emotionally supporting her when her doctor-husband’s condition was critical, and when the elderly lady on the other bed asked me to help her communicate what she needed with the dietitian and getting her fruit bowl adjusted and redistributed….. Small things but they mattered. I call it a COVID connect!

We created a small community amongst ourselves in those 7 days! Both the doctor-patient and I felt that after 30 odd years we were back to hostel life all over again. The young nurse-patient brought laughter to the wing with her colleagues visiting her and chatting with her. Though noisy, it reminded us about the life we could look forward to after recovery. As my treatment neared completion, I was eager to leave the place because I knew that there was another patient lined up waiting for the bed. This is indeed an unprecedented time in the country. The health structures have become crippled, governance has collapsed, and this is because we did NOT care to plan for it.

I must acknowledge that during this journey of mine, I am thankful for the many friends I have – some of them even went to the extent offering poojas in my name and prayers at church. I am thankful for my colleagues’ constant support- texting me and asking if I needed anything, my mother-in-law’s prayers and continuous support. I was filled with gratitude in seeing my son suddenly grown up and taking on responsibilities, my brother running around to get the drugs prescribed and lastly my husband and my brother-in-law trying to get me second and third opinions on the line of treatment… I must say I am blessed! I want everyone to be blessed and be out of this terrible situation. Simple planning, communication, and execution of protocols at a decentralized level may solve many of these problems. I understand the enormity of the challenge but can’t we address some of them with proper coordination? We claim that we have advanced medical science at our disposal, advanced technology, access to sophisticated management advice, but…what is really there?

   

– Vaijayanti Head of Research, Akshara Foundation

The App that helps children Understand First, Then Learn

Srinidhi looks every inch the serious, hard-working student she is known to be in school, peering into the Akshara team’s smartphone camera with mildly questioning eyes, a gentle sandalwood dot between slightly worried brows, three horizontal lines of vibhuti – sacred ash – across her forehead. One of the best students in class 4, she is fastidious, not resting till she figures out the last frontiers of her classwork. For the Government Higher Primary School in the village of Yaragera, Kushtagi block, Karnataka, she is an asset.

But, till the other day, Mathematics was not on Srinidhi’s priority list of subjects. A suppressive load held her back. “I have a fear of Mathematics,” she confesses. “Gradually with the App I am learning to be free of fear and I’m finding it interesting.”

The Building Blocks Learning App is capturing the imagination of children like Srinidhi in villages in Hoskote, Kushtagi and Mundargi blocks where it was pilot tested for a year. Not in all the villages and for all school going children, but a selected few, the number sizeable enough for a true picture of where to peg expectations. The pilot was a small, significant prelude – a putting out into the world before wider unveilings.

Building Blocks works on the lowest end martphone that spurs the understanding and learning of Mathematics without the traditional, intermediary devices of textbook, blackboard, notebook and pencil. That for children is a great unchaining, particularly in rural government schools, where change and reformist teaching do not usually make it through, though Akshara’s programmes manage to find a way in.

Building Blocks is making Mathematics simpler, more lucid, approachable, as opposed to being only aspirational, bestowing in children’s hands a fearless experience of those dreaded numbers and their mystifying interactions.

Ask any class 3 or 4 student in Akshara’s pilot if fear was anywhere a part of the Building Blocks equation and the answer is “No.” Almost 80% of the over 1500 participants felt a liberation with Building Blocks, delivered on an Akshara-provided smartphone, for two hours, twice a week. They developed a fluency with Mathematics, a fluidity, a direct connection, and crossing boundaries to the next higher concept was mere child’s play, not a problem of choppy waters and muddy uncertainties as before.

Srinidhi says, “The App is very good. I’m learning with joy. In the App I find addition and subtraction, big and small numbers, ascending and descending order numbers, and number expansion very easy.” This is from a student who had fundamental problems with Mathematics and rock-bottom struggles with simple addition and subtraction, competencies which by class 3 entry she should have acquired. “Division was so difficult,” she says. “It has become easy. But I have to learn some more.”

Srinidhi’s father, Devappa, is a repairer of light vehicles and electrical appliances and a borewell mechanic. Her mother, Syamala, is a volunteer at a women’s self-help group. Both in non-traditional occupations, both aware of trends and changing times. Both have a smartphone each in which they have downloaded Building Blocks. An active community member, Devappa is spreading the message at the school’s parents’ meetings, and tells the Akshara team, “This App is easy. It teaches in an entertaining way. It’s useful for all children to learn Mathematics. The games have a lot of variety. This is more than what we expected.”

Introducing the Sahus to Building Blocks

   

The Sahus were on a train from Vishakhapatnam to Rayagada, out for a family function, a family of four – Pradeep Kumar Sahu is a businessman in Asansol; his wife, Padmavathi, a homemaker who also occasionally helps her husband at work; and their two sons, Durgaprasad (10) and Saiprasad (7), both students at the Delhi Public School (DPS), Asansol. Lipsa Bharati, Programme Manager, Ganitha Kalika Andolana (GKA), Akshara Foundation Odisha, happened to be on the same train and struck up a conversation with them. Akshara was testing Building Blocks at the time.

She introduced it to the two boys, in a bid to keep them engaged. Durgaprasad was more artistically inclined while Saiprasad was the math pro. Until that moment. Durgaprasad dived straight into a division sum in the App, though math is not his favourite subject. Lipsa observed that he enjoyed Building Blocks much more than Saiprasad, was able to do the sums one by one.

By the end of the ride, Durgaprasad said, “This is a better way of doing math, without all the tension it causes us.” For the few hours they were on the train, Durgaprasad was involved, taking on division with determination. He was amazed at the Fish in a Tank game – a Grade 3 concept. He had to distribute equally the nine purple-coloured fish swimming in the big tank to the three small tanks below. With all that to stimulate him, he exclaimed, “I had never thought of division in this way before.

The concept of division has suddenly become clear after the series of six games with Fish in a Tank. It’s really just equal distribution.” At that juncture, the final form of Building Blocks was still in the crucible, being moulded, and Lipsa could not give them the link just then, though the family was keen. Once Building Blocks was available on Google Play, the Akshara team got in touch with the Sahus who were only too excited to be able to download the app.



Google Play and the Google Play logo are trademarks of Google LLC.

The Electoral Literacy Clubs – Workshop for CSOs

Taking forward its continuous efforts of building an active democratic citizenry in the country, the Systematic Voters’ Education and Electoral Participation division of ECI has undertaken a new initiative by the name of Electoral Literacy Clubs for developing a culture of avid electoral engagement and making informed and ethical ballot decisions among citizens of the country.

The Electoral Literacy Clubs or ELCs program was officially launched on National Voters’ Day 2018 in the august presence of the Hon’ble President of India. ELCs are informal learning groups which being set up across the country as direct interventions of ECI for promoting electoral literacy among Indian citizens of all ages by engaging them in interesting and experiential hands-on learning activities in their local languages in a strictly apolitical, non-partisan and neutral manner.

Three different kinds of interventions have been designed under the ELCs program. First is ELC Future Voters which are being set up in Secondary and Senior Secondary Schools all across India to target future voters in the age-group of 14 to 17 years who are studying in Classes IX to XII. These ELCs will have all of the students from Classes IX, X, XI and XII as its members.

The overarching goal of ELCs program is to make the future and new voters of the country fully confident of how, when, where, what and why of democratic elections. They should develop an understanding of the value of their vote, significance of sanctity and secrecy of their vote, and a conviction of making mature, competent and ethical ballot decisions. They should become interested and excited for exercising their very first ballot decision in an ethical and informed fashion as soon as they become 18 years old. In quantifiable terms, the outcome of ELCs would mean increased electoral registration and enhanced voter turnout.

And for reaching out to the population left outside of the formal education structures, ELCs shall be set up at every Polling Station by the name of Chunav Pathshala. Chunav Pathshala will have members from the village or community to which the polling station belongs. While there will be significant focus on school dropouts, the Chunav Pathshala will also aim to be representative of the entire village’s demographic composition.

Election Commission of Karnataka nominated Ms.K.Vaijayanti of Akshara Foundation as a representative of Leading CSOs working in the field of Education. She was nominated to participate in the workshop organised by Election Commission of India, New Delhi during the third week of May. The workshop was called for CSOs from 30 states for State level Master Trainer. The role of the representative would be to develop/contextualise the awareness building modules, find out the master trainers and implementation agencies in Karnataka to enhance the understanding of voting process and importance of voting across the young and future voters. The workshop was participatory and activity based, as well as interactive. The resource material developed at the national level included different interesting strategies like mooch pooling booth, maze helping to understand different processes, games and discussions. The idea was to strengthen the democratic process by building the capacity of different stakeholders.



Teachers embracing EASY English

Smt. Umme Attika, is an English teacher at the Government Urdu Lower Primary School (GULPS) Chatripalya, a part of Jadigenahalli cluster, Hoskote taluk.

She regularly participates in the EASY English workshops conducted by Akshara. Our EASY English programme was started in 2016-17, and the programme focused on grade 1 students.

At the start of the programme, it was observed that the teacher was not so versed with English speaking, and was very hesitant to speak in English. But with regular practice during the workshops, especially with respect to spoken English, they have become confident and can hold a conversation with ease.



Smt. Umme Attika participates with an eagerness to learn and is very enthusiastic. After the workshop, she refers to the teacher module and prepares herself for the class.

She takes English for her students six days a week. In Karnataka, grades 1 to 3 sit together and learn with the help of songs and dance. Their class is called Nali Kali. With such a varied class, one needs to have a solid strategy when it comes to teaching Akshara’s EASY English.

Here’s how Smt. Umme Attika goes about it.
  • She starts by giving her attention to grade 3 students. She interacts with them and gives them some work, usually a writing-based activity (On black board / book)
  • She then focuses her attention on the children in grades 1 & 2. While she teaches grade 2 students using the Tab, grade 1 students observe and listen.
  • She then gives the grade 2 children an assignment. While they are writing, she teaches grade 1 students.
 


This integrated approach has proved helpful for effective class management. She uses the Tab to teach and then assigns a writing activity using the Government textbook.

She has insisted on a copy-writing book for every student, and gives them 1 sentence as practice, every day. Students are required to write the sentence and practice it.

UmmeAttika says, ‘I am happy to attend the workshop. It is a joyful workshop. We meet all the teachers of both the clusters once in a month. We share our experience with teachers and RPs about our learnings. I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to the Akshara team. They handle the workshop in an interesting manner. All the RPs are too good. I have learnt a lot from the workshops. Now, my confidence level has increased, and I will converse in English with my colleague as well as with students. It’s an opportunity for us to recap what we had learnt in our school days, also we learn about new methodologies of teaching.”



HM, Shri. Zaheer Pasha regularly visits and observes the English class. He says that, “I have observed that the teacher handles the session beautifully. The way she engage students is excellent. Her approach of teaching is very good.

Students love to sit in her class. I have observed a lot of progress among the students after the implementation of EASY English programme. Students can now understand better, and speak in English. They participate in TPR activities.”

– Nalini Raj N. K.

The Role Model Priest / SDMC President

Here you will find a temple priest and SDMC President who is a role model for the youth of his village.

This is the story of Dayananda Swami who studied only till class 12 and now experiences a world of enjoyment in teaching children in his village. An active 43-year-old, he juggles many roles – a priest at the village temple, one of the main organisers of cultural events in this small, sleepy place, and President of the School Development and Monitoring Committee (SDMC).



Dayananda Swami has also long had another crucial task, self-assigned and diligently executed. Every day he is at the village’s government school to teach children Mathematics with Akshara’s Ganitha Kalika Andolana (GKA) kit.

He got captivated by the teaching-learning materials in the kit at one of the SDMC meetings he chaired and started interacting with the teachers and Akshara’s Field Coordinators to learn more about it.

A galvaniser in the village, he encourages youth to help children learn Mathematics and banish their fear of the subject. On occasion, he takes up cudgels too, on behalf of education. He once fought to get a teacher back to school, who had been absent for over two years using political influence to stay truant.

A role model and an inspiration to village youth, he motivates them to teach children for free.

– By Ranganath, Akshara Foundation

A Teacher’s Dedication

This is the story of Almas Kousar, the Nali-Kali teacher for classes 1-3, who stresses on cleanliness. She also teaches students of classes 1-5 English at the government primary school in Doranalapalli village, Rashcharevu cluster, Bagepalli taluk.



Every morning, Almas had to confront the sight of students coming to school, unkempt and dirty, without a bath. She tried hard to convince them of the need for good grooming habits. But all her efforts were futile. Her students started giving excuses – no running water at home, no soap, and on it went.

Almas decided she would be the change she sought and bought soap and shampoo at her own expense and started bathing the kids. The parents asked their children to tell her not to get involved in cleaning rituals, to focus instead on teaching. Almas refused to budge. She asked the parents to come to school and discuss matters of hygiene with their kids. The parents said, “We’re not going to change. We won’t take the trouble of bathing our children before they come to school.”

Matters started getting out of hand, forcing Almas to call for a meeting with School Development and Monitoring Committee (SDMC) members and the community and have them convince the parents about the value of hygiene. When the community got involved, the parents realised the importance of their children practising proper self-care routines and coming to school wearing a clean uniform.

Nor was Almas neglecting education. Her dedication to all aspects of her students’ school life is exemplary. She has taught them to converse in English and students speak fluently. Her school wins prizes in almost any competition or event organised at the cluster level. The community too is keenly involved these days in its functioning.

– By Shanbhulinga, Akshara Foundation

A Story of a Tanda

This is the story of an education-oriented community.



In the districts of North Karnataka you can find a tribal community called the Lambanis (http://www.realbharat.org/lambani-the-afghani-lavana-merchants-tribe-of-india-467/). In Dharwad and Gadag districts, the places where they live are known as Tandas.

This is the story of one such Tanda in Adavi Soampura (Jalashankar Nagara) in Gadag Rural taluk in Gadag district. With only 100 houses, the village has a population of around 350. It has a government lower primary school with 93 students and 4 teachers.

The students performed quite well during my visit to this school when I gave them questions on basic arithmetic operations. That is rare in a classroom. Almost 95% of the students answered correctly.

Curious, I dug a little deeper to see what their parents’ background is. Almost 80% of the parents go to Goa for daily wage labour and most of the children live with their grandparents. It is interesting to note that the Lambanis have a language of their own and do take some time to understand Kannada. In spite of these hurdles, the kids have mastered the language as well as an abstract subject like Mathematics.

The credit for such incredible performance surely goes to the school’s teachers and the School Development and Monitoring Committee (SDMC) members who take keen interest in the school’s progress and learning outcomes. When asked how they were using the teaching-learning materials (TLMs) in the Ganitha Kalika Andolana (GKA) Mathematics kit, the teacher said that those who were lagging made good use of them.

The final result is that when they graduate to the 6th grade, they join Navodaya Vidyalaya or Morarji Desai Residential School, a chain of prestigious institutions meant for children from underprivileged backgrounds, a much sought-after badge of merit for government school kids, difficult to gain entry as the bar is high. These children make that possible with their dedication and the hard work of their teachers.

– By Maruti Mallapur, Akshara Foundation