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
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
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.