Akshara Foundation

Akshara Foundation's mission is to ensure that Every Child is in School and Learning Well. Our work focuses on universalizing primary education. We work both at the primary and pre-primary levels. We work towards our goals through innovative, scalable models.We believe that our generation has a unique opportunity to bridge gaps by bringing equitable access to high-quality, relevant education to all. We emphasize on performance management,technology usage and creating volunteering opportunities.
Feb 21, 2013

Update on Akshara's pre-school Programme : 2012-13

Training for Anganwadi workers
Training for Anganwadi workers

On May 27th 2012, 126 dynamic women and men ran for Akshara Foundation in the TCS World 10K Run 2012 to create an awareness on the Need for Better Schooling in Government schools. With the help of monetary contributions from all of you and other sources, we were able to raise over USD 15,400 through this event for our pre-school programme supporting over 32,000 children studying in around 1770 Government-run preschool centers in Bangalore, India. Please find below an update of the pre-school programme in 2012 - 13, for which the funds raised through the run were used:

The new academic year 2012-13 began  in June 2012 with some changes. Akshara Foundation has been working in the pre-school space, with the Government Anganwadis for the last three years in Bangalore. The results of the programs so far speaks unequivocally of large-scale gains:

  • The importance of preschool education was underscored and brought to the forefront in long-neglected, government-run anganwadis and their tired energies revitalized.Community support structures like Bal Vikas Samithis and Friends of Anganwadis, failing or defunct in many places, were resuscitated.
  •     The programme forged a bond between anganwadi workers and the community and fostered in the ICDS a realization that teaching-learning material (TLM) is a vital instrument of preschool education. That the ICDS is supplying new material to anganwadis this year is a triumph for the programme.
  •     Change was worked into an under-performing government system in conjunction with the ICDS.
  •     Motivation and purpose were instilled in a flagging workforce of anganwadi workers who discovered an array of pragmatic teaching solutions and practical work management and time consolidation methods

Along with working with all the 1770 Anganwadi (pre-school) centers, the team decided to choose 333 centers to groom and nurture them in Model Anganwadi centers. The focus for the year is to train the Anganwadi workers on effective classroom management and TLM arragements in a way that it is easily accessible to children. Another important aim for the year is to engage the community effectively and involve the Bal Vikas Samithi members to participate in the day-to-day Anganwadi activities.

12 Supervisors and 333 Anganwadi workers were trained under the Model Anganwadi concept. The training spanned over 2 days and focussed on Classroom Management, TLM seggregation, grouping of children according to their age and classroom rules.

An upgraded TLM was given to each center to replenish broken / damaged materials and provide additional and new learning materials for children. As a part of a tie up with LEGO Foundation, this year, a curriculum based around LEGO Duplo blocks was also introduced in the centers.

Children were assessed in the beginning of the year to get a feel of their current learning levels. The assessments focussed on 7 sets of competencies using 56 indicators:

  •     General Awareness
  •     Gross Motor Development
  •     Fine Motor Development
  •     Language Development
  •     Intellectual Development
  •     Social and Emotional Development
  •     Pre-academic Development

When the anganwadi workers conducted the assessment for the children, the mothers also showed interest in conducting some activities for the children. This is a good sign of the community taking ownership of their children’s education and also at the same time they are supporting the anganwadi worker in her work. The post- programme assessment will take place in the month of March 2013 and then the results will be compared to measure the impact of the programme.

As a part of the community initiatives, we organized the following activities:

  • Mother’s Monthly Meetings – These take place once a month. The mothers are happy with the pre school kits.
  • Friends of Anganwadis – To get the active participation of the parents in preschool activities, Akshara Foundation introduced the concept called Friends of Anganwadi (FOA) in each centre. The members of the FOA are the primary stakeholders of anganwadi, i.e parents. This group consists of mothers who interact and engage with the children in the anganwadis. There are about 3-5 mothers per anganwadi who visit the centres and interact and teach the children.
  • House-hold visits - Akshara staff visited over 12,000 households to meet parents and discuss with them about the importance of pre-school education, sending their children regularly to the Anganwadis, their child's learning outcomes amongst many other topics.

Impact story of a beneficiary: The Story of Little Jeeva -

Tannery Road is a long stretch of chaos, thick with bustling shops, traffic of various kinds, ambling cows, stray dogs and little mounds of garbage. It leads to K.G. Halli where the K.G. Halli anganwadi tucks itself behind the main road. This is one of the 1787 Anganwadi centers which is supported by Akshara Foundation Thirty-five children between 3 and 6 years of age are enrolled in this center. Little Jeeva who is all of 4 years is one amongst them. Jeeva's parents are illiterate and exhibit astonishing lack of interest to send her to the Anganwadi center. Jeeva is a silent girl. She seldom mingles with everyone in the class. But when the Anganwadi worker, Vijaya opens the Akshara “Pandora-Box”, Jeeva's eyes start glowing and she is full of energy. Jeeva likes to play and inturn learn using Akshara Teaching- Learning Material Kit which has a host of child-friendly aids, very colourful and eye- catching, teaching various concepts like Alphabets, Colours, Numbers, Animals/Birds, Fruits,Vegetables and many more that goes a long way in building the child's cognitive skills. While participating in the learning sessions, Jeeva is very active and attentive and is quick to understand and answer correctly. “Her favourite activity is weekly market”, says Vijaya. “She is very enthusiastic about this topic and comprehends and participates well in it”. Jeeva says, “Miss, fruits and vegetables are available in a shop that I know. My mother buys them from there.”

Thank You for your contribution in making impact in lives of many children like Jeeva. Looking forward to your continued support.

Children working with LEGO Duplo blocks
Children working with LEGO Duplo blocks
Mothers meeting in progress at an Anganwadi
Mothers meeting in progress at an Anganwadi
Children using the TLM
Children using the TLM

Links:

Aug 6, 2012

Akshara's pre-school program: Another year begins!

Training Anganwadi workers on Model Anganwadis
Training Anganwadi workers on Model Anganwadis

The new academic year 2012-13 began. The pre-school program has recommenced in June but with some changes. Akshara Foundation has been working in the pre-school space, with the Government Anganwadis for the last three years in Bangalore. The results of the programs so far speaks unequivocally of large-scale gains:

  • The importance of preschool education was underscored and brought to the forefront in long-neglected, government-run anganwadis and their tired energies revitalized.

  • Community support structures like Bal Vikas Samithis and Friends of Anganwadis, failing or defunct in many places, were resuscitated.

  • The programme forged a bond between anganwadi workers and the community and fostered in the ICDS a realization that teaching-learning material (TLM) is a vital instrument of preschool education. That the ICDS is supplying new material to anganwadis this year is a triumph for the programme.

  • Change was worked into an under-performing government system in conjunction with the ICDS.

  • Motivation and purpose were instilled in a flagging workforce of anganwadi workers who discovered an array of pragmatic teaching solutions and practical work management and time consolidation methods.

The team therefore exits 1437 anganwadis with a sense of fullness and satisfaction to focus on a new effort, no less intensive, no less weighty. The 335 centres selected from 2 circles in each of ICDS's 6 projects in the city, will be nurtured and groomed into model anganwadis. Last year the team had 8 model anganwadis, supported with additional training, inputs, pedagogy and monitoring to become centres of learning excellence and nuclei of high performers – achievement-minded anganwadi workers and inspired children. The same principle will be applied to the 335 anganwadis this year. With the strategy for this year in place, the program will impact appx. 8375 children between 3 and 6 years studying in 355 Anganwadis. The focus for this year is to train the Anganwadi workers on effective classroom management and TLM arragements in a way that it is easily accessible to children. Another important aim for the year is to engage the community effectively and involve the Bal Vikas Samithi members to participate in the day-to-day Anganwadi activities. At the end of the academic year, Akshara would like to make each of these centers as a Model Anganwadi Center in pre-school education.

Reading corner at an Anganwadi
Reading corner at an Anganwadi
Children building LEGO models
Children building LEGO models

Links:

Jul 9, 2012

Running for a cause : TCS World 10K Run 2012

Ready to run together for a good cause
Ready to run together for a good cause

It was an unseasonably warm summer day in Bangalore, the 27th of  May, the sun bright and early in a cloudless sky. The fifth edition of the Tata Consultancy Services World 10K Run, a front line distance running event, had over 21,000 participants gathering at the Kanteerava Stadium, all set to go.

The ten-kilometre road running competition, a premium internationally-affiliated event, attracted elite athletes from many parts of the world. The total prize money on offer was $170,000. The run is staged under the aegis of the Athletic Federation of India (AFI) and the Karnataka Athletic Association (KAA) and is supported by the Government of Karnataka, the Chief Minister the Chief Patron of the Organising Committee.

Over the years, the TCS World 10K Run has grown into a stage for philanthropy and goodwill, encouraging citizens to reach out in aid of a cause or charity. Non-governmental organizations find it a platform to garner support and raise money for their efforts.

Akshara was there this time to communicate the nature of its work and contribution to education to a larger audience. The idea was to generate awareness of the need for Better Schooling in Government Schools and raise funds, particularly for its preschool programme, which provides quality preschool education for nearly 32,000 children in all 1778 government-run anganwadis in Bangalore.

Preparations had begun in March, with the team motivating, through personal contact, corporate professionals and citizens from all walks of life to take part in the marathon as Akshara’s ambassadors. Those two and a half months were forerunners of the run. The mood at the Akshara office was hectic - the team getting T-shirts for the runners emblazoned with the Akshara logo and designing banners evocatively advocating education.

The Akshara team was there early, ready for the day. 126 young and old men and women, ran for Akshara's cause. To create an awareness on the importance of education, Out of them, 22 runners committed to the ten kilometre segment and 104 participated in what was called the Majja Run, an edited, fun version of 5-7 kilometres, walking, running or simply taking leisurely strides, absorbing the moment. They represented a sweep of companies - IBM, Hewlett Packard, Target India, MindTech, NXP, Bosch, Wipro and Dell. The Akshara team itself, along with employees and trustees enthusiastically participated in the event.

What motivated them to run for Akshara? What was their experience like? What was their takeaway from the event?

Upendra of NXP says, “Akshara’s work deserves a lot of praise. Its mission, its activities geared toward achieving targets in education are inspiring, commendable, honourable.On the morning of the run there was a vibrant buzz around the Akshara camp. It intensified as the run started and even at the end that excitement stayed with us. With Akshara’s meaningful catch lines and the challenge of completing the run the entire experience was exciting. For me personally the experience ended on a high when I gave away most of my end-of-the-run refreshments to desolate little kids. My takeaway is that I was made aware of the ways in which I can contribute to the education of children.

Amit Saha of Hewlett Packard says, “I have admired Akshara Foundation’s work. I tried to be a part of its library programme one and a half years ago. I liked the idea of the run. I feel very close to the Akshara cause I ran for. I identify with it.It was exciting, electrifying - the vibrancy, the stadium full of colour, people cheering. It was a new experience for me, the Majja Run, wearing the Akshara T-shirt, holding the placard. I organised 15-20 people from different companies for the run and made sure all of them were present. If we contribute our bit we can solve a number of problems. All of us running together for a noble cause felt great. It felt good to be part of something bigger than yourself.”

Through various sources, Akshara was able to raise around US $10,300. This was a good amount for us, considering that we were participating for the first time in the event.

We would like Thank You for believing in our cause and donating to us through this event. Every contribution will help a child to get better and quality pre-school education in Government-run Anganwadis in Bangalore.

Children from our libraries spreading the message
Children from our libraries spreading the message

Links:

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