Dear friends and supporters,
Since this project was posted for expansion in 2013, we are now deactivating this project. An attempt at creating a customized Kindergarten program for rural India that started with 40 villages in 2013 will now reach close to 300 villages by this June. Thank you for your support both big and small which have helped us grow and expand with each year. All of the Centres opened in 2013 continue to teach and shape the minds of kindergarten children in rural India.As a final report, I would like to share with you an account of the Annual days that have just concluded.
While we now have a number of annual events for teachers, parents and children, the highlight of our academic year is the Annual Day for each Centre which is an opportunity to showcase to the parents and the community the talents and the learning of our children.
In a two month period this year from January 22nd to March 23rd, all 137 centres had their Annual Day programs which were done with much planning, community engagement and sponsorship and in many centres preceded by activities and events for parents. In many centres the Annual Day became a larger village event with over 2000 people attending.
Community support came in a big way with sponsorships for chairs, stage settings, sound systems and gifts to be given to children. In a first attempt, we held activities and events for parents prior to the Annual day like games, library and reading events and theme based exhibitions where the children had their parents enthralled as they presented their arts, crafts and projects for the year.
The Annual day event in many centres stretched to 3 hours and more with the children dressed up in specially prepared costumes presenting choreographed dances and recitals. Please see below a selection of pictures from different villages. Teachers from neighbouring villages attended and helped out with the event, thereby leading to much community and team building among the teachers. It was an immensely thrilling experience to see the talent in our children and feel much satisfaction at how much they have learned and grown.
With another successful year behind us, we now look ahead to the next year as we expand to 6 more Districts in Karnataka and aim to begin the kindergarten program in another 100 villages.
Thank you for your support over the last 3 years. Please do continue to support us through the scholarship project posted at http://www.globalgiving.org/projects/send-700-children-to-school-in-2015/
With appreciation and gratitude,
Festivals in India are celebrated with great enthusiasm; they symbolize the cultural heritage of our country and highlight various aspects of our society. They also help to promote solidarity and promote acceptance of diversity in religion and traditions. Our Centres use it as an opportunity not only to highlight the talents of children but also to celebrate the event and pass down the history and cultural heritage of the country. While some are religious and some are of national importance, all are celebrated colourfully and with great harmony and enthusiasm.
I would like to share with you a few of the important national dates and festivals celebrated at our Centres in the last 6 months.
August 15th is Independence Day and at our Centres, children dress up in costumes that represent heroes like Gandhiji, Nehru, freedom fighters and other national personalities. They tell stories of their heroes, the national flag is hoisted and the teachers share with children the stories connected with Independence and the lives of national leaders.In some centres, children join up with students from other schools for a joint celbration of the event.
October 2nd is celebrated as the birthday of Gandhiji and children come dressed up as Gandhiji. It’s a fun celebration and likewise we have had festivals like the birthday of Lord Krishna when every child in the Centre comes dressed as Lord Krishna. Stories and traditions associated with the lives of Gandhiji and Krishna are shared and acted out.
Another national day is November 14th, (birth date of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru) which is fondly celebrated as children’s day all over the India. The day calls awareness to the rights, care and education of children. The children come dressed up as Nehru, and other national heroes. Rani Chennamma, a well-known queen of a princely South India state who was a freedom fighter in the 19th Century is a favourite character among the little girls. The life of Nehru and the importance of Children’’s Day is shared with the children and parents who attend.
Among the festivals, Diwali, known as the festival of lights is celebrated with the festivity it deserves. Children come colourfully dressed, traditional Indian decoration and patterns made with coloured ground rice are drawn on the floor and lamps are lit to symbolize the victory of light over darkness.
Do enjoy the pictures of children from some of our centres dressed up for the different celebrations.
From the current 124 Villages, by June 2015 we aim to expand our work to 300 villages, having close to 10,000 children enrolled. As part of our program we offer scholarships to make it possible for even the very poor children to attend preschool. This June thanks to your support we were able to offer scholarships to 275 children. Next year we hope to more than double that number and need your generous support to make that possible.
The link to donate for scholarships for next year is uploaded at: http://www.globalgiving.org/projects/send-700-children-to-school-in-2015/.
Do help us by forwarding the link to friends and family who maybe interested in supporting preschool education.
Happy Thanksgiving and warm wishes from Hippocampus for the holiday season ahead.
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.
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.
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.
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Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.
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