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Context

Reading is an essential foundation for a child's learning. Unless this ability is ingrained early, progressing further is a struggle for the child. Estimates indicate that nearly 45% of children in government primary schools (in the age group 7-10) around the country are unable to read simple words fluently; while 60% cannot write a simple sentence that is dictated.


Over the years, though the government has laboured to improve enrollment through various programmes like Chinnara Angala, Coolie Inda Shalege, and Baa Marali Shalege; the learning achievement inside the classroom has continued to be dismal & disappointing.
Akshara Foundation conceived the Accelerated Reading Programme against this backdrop: the programme aims to enable children to ‘learn of read'. Since reading intrinsically linked to the learning process, the programme focuses on developing the reading ability in children. Working towards the ultimate goal of ensuring that every child is in school and most importantly learning well, Akshara conceived a regional adaptation of the Accelerated reading technique.

Akshara making inroads

Set up, as a public charitable trust in March 2000, Akshara has been continually engaged in efforts to universalize elementary education in Karnataka state. Envisioning Karnataka as a reading state, Akshara advocates strong partnerships with different stakeholders – government, citizens' organizations, communities and the corporate sector. Evolving a workable model to energize the existing education system, Akshara believes that public- private partnerships hold the key to providing the required impetus to change mindsets and make available quality elementary education to every child.

Over the years, though the government has labored to improve enrollment through various programs, the learning achievement inside the classroom has continued to be dismal and disappointing.

Akshara Foundation conceived the Accelerated Reading Programme against this backdrop: The programme aims to enable children to 'learn to read'.

Working closely with children from under-privileged backgrounds for the past 5 years, Akshara's field experience has led to a reasonable understanding of the education matrix. To enhance the learning outcomes in government schools, the organization chose to adapt the Pratham model (tested in different states, mainly Maharashtra) to the regional context.

Akshara's Road Map

Akshara's field observations showed that :

  • Children were compelled to cope with higher learning levels without strong basics.

  • Promotions to higher grades was faulty - it did not consider learning achievement as a basic measure.

  • Teachers' single-minded focus on completing the syllabus impacted heavily on the quality of teaching and on the extent of learning in schools.

  • Community involvement (parents) was nil as most children were first generation school-goers.

  • To address these issues Akshara Foundation has worked out a strategic approach to achieve the 'Reading Karnataka' mission.


    Step 1: The first step focuses on enabling children to read -'Learn to Read' phase. Here children are taught to read using the Accelerated Reading technique.
    Akshara believes children in government schools with a below-average reading level would directly benefit in this phase.
    The organization aims to ensure that every child in Karnataka is able to read by implementing the Accelerated Reading Programme where required in the Phase 1.
    Step 2: The focus then shifts to providing worthwhile reading material such that interest in reading is sustained. It also incorporates comprehension and writing skills.
    This works as a learning reinforcement to check if children comprehend what they read.
    Step 3: Once the reading ability of children is established, and their writing skill is built in, creating the 'reading-learning' atmosphere through libraries is the next step. Libraries established both in communities and in schools, form crucial education resources where children gain knowledge to supplement their classroom learning.
    Akshara's efforts strive to integrate innovative teaching modules, attractive teaching-learning materials as part of regular curriculum with a final goal of enhancing learning outcomes in schools.

    Towards a 'Reading Karnataka'

  • Implement 45 story-card reading programme across government schools to
    ensure every child 'learns to read'
  • Devise 'read to learn' programmes to sustain the kindled enthusiasm & interest in reading with comprehension & writing skills.
  • Establish libraries & create 'learning' atmosphere in schools & community .
  • Redefine conventional teaching; formulate an innovative teaching module to train teachers, & enhance learning outcomes

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