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We conduct a number of in school programs to improve the quality of learning in government schools

Remedial Education or Jnana Jyoti Programs (JJPs)
Over 20% of the children in government schools do not have basic literacy skills even after going to school for 3 years. JJP is designed to address this issue by providing supplementary inputs to children inside the school premises during school hours. It helps children achieve the Minimum Levels of Learning (MLL) set by the government.

The head teacher of a class is oriented about the program and he/she identifies children who are not at the level of the rest of the class. Akshara volunteers, selected from the local area, are trained to work with children needing extra attention. This training is provided through the government-run ‘Chaitanya’ scheme. Akshara also contributes in the content development of the program with child friendly educational aids. Our volunteer makes time for each child according to his need and is very popular with the children in her little class!

So far, we have improved the learning levels of nearly 17,400 children.

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Accelerated Learning Programs

We have 2 programs that impart foundational level learning to children in school. One is an Accelerated Reading Program and the other an Accelerated Math Program.

Accelerated Reading (Learning to Read)Program

Consistent research by the Pratham network, including Akshara, has found that nearly half of the children between ages 7 and 14 who go to school cannot read even simple sentences. When children don’t learn properly in school, they quickly lose interest and self-esteem and seeing no value in education, drop out. Lack of reading skills lead to lack of comprehension, which in turn leads to lack of learning. Reading is the first essential step for access to accumulated knowledge. Without reading, there is no writing either and the learning process is severely handicapped. The Accelerated Reading Program was thus started to improve the reading ability of children, using very simple methodology, in a short period of 4-6 weeks. Once a child begins to read, she internalizes her locus of learning and this improves her motivation and overall scholastic performance.

In 2003, Pratham, Mumbai innovated and tested on a large scale, a technique that combines different approaches to learning to read. The technique combines the philosophy of child-centric learning with ‘reading aloud’ stories and the use of the phonetic ‘barakhadi’ charts for coding and decoding sounds. The end result is very encouraging. Children aged 7 and above who can read words or letters but not paragraphs are taught to read simple sentences and stories with comprehension in 6-8 weeks, with this cost effective technique.

The Accelerated Reading Programs are conducted in government schools or in community centres. Children learn to read Kannada and Urdu using materials like flashcards, large print storybooks, charts etc. An assessment is conducted at the beginning, middle and end of the program to ascertain the level of progress. Reading proficiency is determined on the basis of what the child can read.

This programme has been rolled out across several hundred Government schools and we hope that we will be able to cover all schools under this programme.

Accelerated Math Programme


The Accelerated Math Programme imparts foundational math skills to children in classes 2 to 5. This is designed to improve the knowledge base and comprehension and consequently the learning capabilities of the children. The 45 day program, designed by the Pratham Network, has already been successfully conducted in 18 states and 29 cities. Akshara has experimented with this innovative technique in 49 schools (42 Government schools and 7 Bangalore Mahanagara Pallike schools) in Bangalore.


The pilot project for the Accelerated Math Programme was conducted from August to November 2004 (a total of 45 days after school holidays and exams) covering 2436 children who had been identified as having weak mathematical skills. These children were identified through a baseline test conducted amongst 3214 children. This indicated that approximately 75% of the children in these schools had weak or no mathematical abilities. The 45-day programme was implemented by Akshara�s volunteers who are trained extensively in this methodology. An assessment was conducted on day 15, 30 and 45 of the program to determine and track the child�s progress.



The pilot study was a satisfactory indication that children could improve their mathematical skills significantly in a short period of time. However, we have found that we need to be able to increase comprehension and retention after the initial phase through sustained interventions. In order to meet this need Akshara is now planning a �Phase II� programme where children who have been through the 45-day programme are given work books, taught numbers from 1-1000 and provided with additional material to increase retention of concepts. It is our hope that with this dual approach we will be able to create a considerable impact on learning levels amongst children.
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Libraries(Reading to Learn)



Libraries

An essential part of our Reading Program has been the setting up of libraries to encourage and sustain a reading habit among children.

Akshara Foundation has received valuable support from the Education Department, Government of Karnataka and the Bangalore Mahanagara Palike to start libraries in Government and Corporation schools. These Centers are evolving as dynamic resource and information centers for children. The libraries are stocked with a wide array of books in English, Hindi, Kannada, Urdu and Tamil. They are also equipped with computers that have been donated by organizations like Infosys Technologies and Airtel.

The membership base has been steadily growing and it is really encouraging to see that in some of the blocks, government school teachers have begun visiting the libraries to refer to valuable books.

The scope of the library programme also includes creating a network of mobile librarians who are engaged in a door to door distribution & collection of books to children in houses within and around their vicinity.

The overall response to the library programme has been nothing short of phenomenal and our aim of a book in every child's hand and a library in every neighbourhood will soon become a reality.


Akshara Foundation has also been getting feedback on books being enjoyed by children and responding to requirements of in each of the respective locations.


"We get to borrow books related to my subjects. We even get to know about National Leaders. We get more story books in the Library, so I am happy by reading those Story Books, and I have read 30 books till today. Library is very useful to me. I like the pictures in the English books and even the joke books in my Library.


My Favourite books are -

1. MURIDA HAKKI.
2. PANJE MANGESHA RAYA.
3. KUVEMPU.
4. DARABENDRA.
5. ASHOKA.
6. VEERAVANITHE OBAVVA.

 
       
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