Open Kindergarten Centres in 40 villages in 2013

Aug 4, 2014

A Journey of Growth and Learning

Reciting stories
Reciting stories

HLC started in Kyathanahalli village in Mandya in 2011. The first year was not encouraging, with just 17 children in a village as big as Kyathanahalli. However, the management, HLC staff and the teacher Latha didn’t lose hope. They started to work proactively within the community and included them in the celebrations and other programs organized by the company.

2012 was the start of the growth story. With children in the previous year showing strong learning outcomes and added effort at enrollment by the teacher, the number of children increased by 100% to 34 children and a second teacher was added. By 2014, the enrollment has grown to 74 children with 4 teachers. The growth rate gave insights of how it would be in coming years not only in Kyathanahalli but across other centres too. This success story is largely due to effective community involvement by the teachers and the learning outcomes of the children.

Latha is today the Centre Leader effectively managing the Centre and the 3 other teachers who work with her. Parents take pride in their children, since they are ahead of their peers studying in other schools and proudly participate in all programs organized by HLC. The teachers too are happy for the teaching opportunity provided, that gives them great recognition within their community and for the continuous training provided by HLC that enables them to get better every year.

Hadadi is a village in Davanagere district of Karanataka where HLC started the preschool in 2012 with only 18 children. Lakshmi was the first teacher selected from the community and trained by HLC . Initially the community was not very supportive, because they felt that we were wasting the childrens’ time by teaching through play and other materials that were very different from what they knew. It took two years for the community to appreciate the change in their children and the way they learn. In 2013 numbers increased to 42 children and two more teachers Kalavathi and Geetha joined to take care of different age levels. With the teachers growing in skill through the training they receive and the children enjoying the fun and activity based learning, HLC is today a vital part of the Hadadi community with 62 children enrolled in 2014.

These are just two stories of success as we celebrate the 4th year of HLC with preschools now running in 125 villages in 3 Districts of Mandya, Davangere and Shimoga, with 4000 children enrolled and 250 young local women selected and trained to be preschool teachers. Slowly but steadily HLC is moving towards its dream of taking good quality preschool education to rural India and at the same time creating a pool of talented teachers who are strongly committed to improving the education in their communities.

Thank you for your support that makes our work possible.

Learning Rhymes
Learning Rhymes
Chennapura Centre Students and Teachers
Chennapura Centre Students and Teachers
Apr 25, 2014

Highlights From The Last Quarter

MathSTAR students in the village of Iguru
MathSTAR students in the village of Iguru

Dear Friends,

Our third year has come to a close and on a high note. In the last month all our 104 Centres celebrated Annual Days where the children proudly showcased their learning and talents. These events were well supported by the community and became village events where not just our parents but the entire community attended. Our Parent Teacher sessions at the end of the month too were a success. Parents expressed happiness at their children’s learning and the interest and confidence in learning they have gained. They expressed great support for the preschool program.

Another highlight has been the success of the after school programs. We had shared with you in our January report about the launch of the after-school English and Math program for children in grades 1 to 7. Much has been written and reported on the crisis with primary level math learning in India. For the past few years, the team at Hippocampus Learning Centres (HLC) has been innovating solutions to help primary level children in rural India bridge the enormous learning gaps they face in Math. The aim is to build accuracy, speed and a sense of confidence in children so that they can be successful at Math as they move to higher grades.

As mentioned in our last report, in late July 2013, HLC launched MathSTAR in the Davangere and Mandya districts of Karnataka with the goal to bridge a 2-year learning gap in less than 1 year. The program was initially offered in 7 villages, to children in Classes 1-6 who were enrolled in full-time government or private schools in their villages. These are villages where we already have Centres that run the Kindergarten programs during the day, enabling us to save on separate centre set up costs by using the same space for the after school programs. These are also villages where the Hippocampus name is already synonymous with good learning.

After the students completed their personalized workbooks in 15 weeks, we tested them using the same test they took at the start of the program. Every single one of the 204 students showed great improvement.

An example is Shrinidhi, a Class 5 student in a school in the village of Iguru. A few years ago, Shrinidhi fell behind in her Math class at school. As she advanced into higher grades, she found that her troubles with Math didn’t go away- instead, they became bigger and bigger until finally she reached Class 5 and was terrified of Math.

Encouraged by her parents, Shrinidhi enrolled in Hippocampus’ MathSTAR program that had just launched in the village. On entrance into the program, Shrinidhi was tested for concepts she should have known in Class 3. She scored a 28% on the test. Shrinidhi then completed 1 term of the MathSTAR program. In 15 weeks, she re-took the same test and scored a 73%.

Today Shrinidhi has re-enrolled in the MathSTAR program for a second term. Her fear of Math is going and the time she spends at the Hippocampus Learning Centre is the bright spot in her day as she tackles newer concepts with excitement.

Assessments done at end of term 1 across all 7 villages show that students across Classes 1 to 6 showed an improvement in the range of 27% to 44%. No student showed a decreased performance. The sharpest increase was seen in Class 1 and 2 students, who showed a 43% and 44% improvement respectively.

Across all classes, students who scored between 0-40% on the entrance test showed the most improvement at the mid-term test, proving that the program most effectively helps children who have large learning gaps.

Encouraged by the success of this program, in December 2013 we increased the reach of the MathSTAR program to a total of 24 villages where we currently have 478 children enrolled.
In the coming months, we are looking forward to spreading the reach of this program to 50 plus villages, helping more than 1000 students build confidence in Math and then on to offering it in every village where we run the Kindergarten programs.

Thank you as always for your belief in our work and your support which makes our work possible.


MathSTAR teacher Ashwini in Thurchgatta Centre
MathSTAR teacher Ashwini in Thurchgatta Centre
Jan 13, 2014

Celebrating our teachers

Teacher’s Annual Conference 2013


“A teacher who loves learning earns the right and the ability to help others learn.” 

There is no better way to describe our teachers who have made learning a truly enjoyable experience for the children enrolled in our programs, helping us make the leap from 17 centres in 2011 to 104 centres in 2013.

The first Annual Conference and Awards function held in September was thus launched as a platform to recognize and reward their contribution in our mission to provide quality education to children in rural India. Our teachers received awards for individual as well as group efforts, designed to foster the spirit of team work so integral to the organisation and its culture. A special award for team work was also introduced to encourage this behavior among every member of the organisation.  

The conference had the support and participation of eminent local figures and those from within the education industry, a positive indicator of our work having found acceptance and approval within the communities in which we operate. Our teachers held forth during the panel discussions, which were represented by paediatricians stressing the need for early education, education experts highlighting the importance of teacher training, members of the panchayat, parents, and local schools enumerating the advantages and importance of quality pre-school education.

It was heartening to see the confidence and enthusiasm with which our teachers participated in the conference, raising the bar with their performances and making us proud.

We salute them for their commitment and efforts and hope that the next year will bring many more nominations and more awards to give away as we scale from 100 to 150 centers , increasing our presence to 5% of the pre-school market in the districts we are currently serving.

As always, we thank you for your support towards our initiative and hope that you will continue to do so as we bring many more children within the fold of the Hippocampus Learning Experience.

With Gratitude

Oct 18, 2013

Stories of Impact

The goal of HLC is to uplift whole communities with a combination of delivering academic services and creating livelihood opportunities. The impact of its services thus cannot solely be measured through academic performance, however holistic the curriculum might be. To understand the true value of its programs, HLC looks to the stories of students and teachers to understand the impact of the organization through their perspective, and the perspectives of their families and communities.

Nandish’s Story 

Nandish is a 3 year old in our Pre-KG program at D.Halasahalli and comes from one of the poorest families in the village. His parents work as agricultural labourers on their neighbors’ farms. At first, Nandish would refuse to wash his hands and face, or take a bath in the morning. After attending the Centre for a couple of months Nandish is now particular about being neatly turned out. His mother attributes these new habits to the hygiene lessons given at the Hippocampus Centre. Nandish has also become more social around his family members and made many friends in class. He is able to recite rhymes, identify letters of the alphabet, colours and shapes. His mother, who has never been to school, is very happy that her son is building a strong foundation in learning at a young age. Most of all, she is happy that her son enjoys learning and looks forward to coming to the Centre every day.

Aishwarya’s Story 

Aishwarya, aged 5, is an Upper Kindergarten scholarship student at D. Halasahalli. She is the daughter of agricultural labourers by trade who have moved to Bangalore when they couldn’t find work in the village, leaving Aishwarya with her grandmother. Aishwarya has been learning at a rapid pace. She began at HLC as a Lower KG student. She can now identify all letters of the English and Kannada alphabet, read 2 and 3-letter words in both languages, and recognize shapes. Aishwarya’s writing skills too have improved tremendously and her mother Dakshaini feels that Aishwarya is more than prepared to begin the first grade this summer. Aishwarya’s mother frequently expresses her happiness and gratitude that Aishwarya is able to attend a good pre-school program, even though the family cannot afford it.

At a recently concluded parent - teacher meet in one of our centres, many of the parents mentioned that they were proud to have their children studying with us as they believed that our programs have had a positive impact on their children in many ways. We thank the parents of all our students for the faith they have reposed in us.These are just a few stories- there are many more- that are a source of inspiration for all of us, providing us with the zeal to move forward and stay focussed in our efforts to change the way rural India learns.

I take this opportunity to reiterate our gratitude to having your unstinting support in our mission. Please continue to spread the word about our work among your friends and colleagues.

Warm Regards

Aug 14, 2013

Bridging Learning gaps in English and Math

Children using the LEGO bricks to learn
Children using the LEGO bricks to learn

Dear Friends,

I take great pleasure in sharing with you a report on the launch of our programs to bridge the learning gaps in English and Math. We ended the last quarter on a good note with the English fluency program GBR+ (Grow By Reading) having rolled out  in all the 9 centres it was tested in, and a very successful launch of the Math pilot program, MathSTAR in 7 of our existing centres in Davangere.

The GBR+ program has seen enrolments of 150 students across the 9 centers. Student selection was based on the ability of students to read at the green level (G.R.O.W.B.Y. Each letter stands for a colour that denotes the reading level) and the teacher shortlist was basis a minimum reading level of RED so as to ensure the success of the program.

MathSTAR received a very good initial response with more than one batch running in some villages and currently stands at 150 children across the centres. It is a 4 month program, aimed at strengthening relevant mathematical concepts at the grade level by assessing the child’s competency on them through a system of entrance and exit tests on the same concepts. The unique aspect of the program is the system of individualized worksheets developed based on the learning requirements of each child that the tests bring up. Students then have to complete worksheets based on the different concepts and achieve 80% accuracy before moving to the next worksheet. A child is thus tested both on pace and accuracy. It runs for 1 hour, 5 days a week and incorporates a 10 minute mental math activity at the start of every class and a LEGO session three times a week that is used as a demonstration tool for the concepts.

The English program is priced at Rs. 900 ($15) for 4 terms of 15 weeks each and the Math program at Rs. 250 ($4) for 2 terms of 15 weeks each, making it sufficiently affordable for parents. We are satisfied to note that both the programs have met with an extremely enthusiastic response from the parents who are very positive about the ‘learning‘ provided at the Hippocampus Centres.

The other highlight of the previous quarter is with respect to the overall enrolment numbers that have shown a healthy growth since last year. We started with 78 centres last year, continued with 74 of those centres this year and added 30 new centres, standing at 104 as of date.UKG has been added to 55 of our existing centres. Teacher numbers are at 170 as of June 2013, with 105 new teachers hired this year for the Kindergarten program and 18 teachers for the GBR+ and Math programs.

Our plan is to roll out the English fluency program across the remaining 95 centres and the Math program in the 7 pilot centres in Phase 2 of operations which is by October 2013.

Your continued support has been invaluable in our endeavor to bring pre-school education to as many children from the underprivileged communities as possible and we hope that you will continue to support us as you have been doing, so that we can impact and improve the lives of many more children through our efforts. Please feel free to write to me at for any further queries, or comments.

Thank you,

Sharda Pillai

Children in class
Children in class
Children's workbooks
Children in class
Children in class

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Hippocampus Reading Foundation

Bangalore 560025,, Karnataka, India

Project Leader

Lily Paul

Bangalore, Karnataka India

Where is this project located?

Map of Open Kindergarten Centres in 40 villages in 2013