The first years in Icehouse
In 2005, a classroom was built in icehouse slum area in Chennai, funded by sales of greeting cards and calendars. For the first six years, this classroom was used by the local children to do their homework and to get extra tuition by local tutors. This was financed by ChennaiSmiles and administered by a local organisation, Mottukal.
We realised at an early stage that the original tuition centre was a temporary solution. After six years we were fortunate to start a cooperation with Aid India, when the centre was shifted to a larger nearby rented building and tuition was run by teachers trained in the Aid India teaching methods. Wesupported Aid India for the years 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 in the running of this centre.
Since 2012 Aid India has been running this centre using locally sourced funds and we no longer fund Aid India.
Although we are no longer linked financially with Aid India, we continue to be inspired by their enthusiasm and innovation and enjoy receiving updates about the centre. Given our previous sponsorship of Aid India and our continued interest in their inspiring work, we want to give a short synopsis of their efforts and teaching methodology.
In the last few years, the Aid India team has changed their strategy in order to reach a wider need across Tamil Nadu without compromising their vision. Their goal continues to be that all children in Tamil Nadu should have access to quality education and life opportunities. They are running small-scale programs of high quality, primarily their two Eureka schools and learning centers, and also three centers in Chennai, including the one that we were supporting earlier. In addition, they are also working with many local organisations as well as government schools to improve education state-wide. In the Eureka SPARK program, they are working with many non-governmental organisations (NGO) whereby Aid India provide tutor training using Aid India methodology and materials produced by Aid India. This strategy involves twenty-five NGOs working with 550 tutors across Tamil Nadu. The second strategy involves trying to introduce Aid India teaching methods into government schools by seeking to engage both the regional education officers and individual teachers in schools.
Aid India teaching methods
Over the years, Aid India has built up a fantastic team with experience in the field of teaching methodology and development of educational aids. One of their major strengths is their culture of outcome measurement using validated techniques and their own skills charts. This benefits the children by identifying areas of weakness for teachers to focus on, both individually and as a group, and also provides continuous feedback to Aid India for their own development. Observing their teaching methods in practice, it is apparent that the children not only gain important skills in Tamil, English, Maths and Science, but that they also develop a hunger for learning and increase their self-confidence.