Karka Primary Education

Established in 2012, the Karka Primary Education project aims to improve the ways in which children learn the most basic skills. The project is an offshoot of the Karka Math lab, as we perceived that a solid primary education can immensely help secondary education. At the primary level, children should be exposed to multiple systems of learning which will help them understand their strengths and weakness. Karka Primary Education (KPE) focusses on two fundamental skills — numeracy and literacy and so, two environments have been set up in schools — one for numeracy and one for literacy. This prepares students for their sessions and removes the mundanity of the regular classroom. Students are provided with stationery as well, and the sessions are included in the regular timetable of the school. The numeracy activities are handled by the Karka team and the literacy activities aim to teach more than just the English language. It has been designed to help the learner develop the following skills— Listening, Speaking, Reading, Writing (LSRW skills).

NUMERACY

The numeracy lab of KPE is designed to build basic math skills (Classes 1 to 5). The traditional classroom is replaced with a lab with resources to help the child learn and progress at their own pace. The environment at the numeracy lab provides the learners with a clear direction.
Our resources are classified as follows:

  • Colourful and informative posters adorn the walls of the lab. The visual cues help children identify the topics they learn or are yet to learn.
  • A combination of Jodo Gyan (http://jodogyan.org/), and Karka material is used for Do-and-see (DAS) activities. Some of these activities are used to introduce new concepts as well as reinforce learnt concepts. They help children understand the concepts better.
  • Review cards replace worksheets and reflect the progress of the child. The learner’s performance is measured with each section or set of questions, as opposed to the entire question paper.
  • Resources from the internet is categorised according to the topics and can be accessed on computers and iPads by the students in the lab. This is primarily used to introduce newconcepts, reinforce learnt concepts and sometimes to pose challenges as well. A plasma screen or a projector, depending on the infrastructure of the school is used for group learning.
  • Teachers in the lab complement the other resources. They use a blackboard to introduce new concepts or explain concepts the group is struggling with, or even to conduct games and other fun activities for the learners.

LITERACY

  • Theme based learning

Theme based learning is aimed to improve the children’s skills by working with certain themes that are familiar to them. We begin with everyday, relatable topics such as family, friends, festivals, colours and complexity is increased gradually by adding more abstract themes as their vocabulary grows. This helps children understand the functional aspect of the language rather than its technical aspects, and is especially helpful for those who are exposed to the English language only at school.

  • Progressing from learning familiar sounds to reading words and stories

First, the children are taught the sounds of the alphabets, using phonics (altered for the project). They are then introduced to reading material and are encouraged to read with the phonics they have learnt. As they become familiar with the words, their vocabulary is gradually increased by introducing them to sight words, (which include 220 of the most commonly used words in the English language) through series of activities over time. This includes words like ‘the’, ‘said’, etc.

The children eventually progress to reading GROWBY books (books set up according to difficulty levels and are colour coded as Green, Red, Orange, White, Blue, Yellow) which were recommended by the children’s activity centre, Hippocampus. Over a period of time, the Foundation hopes to expand this system and provide the whole package as a cost effective learning solution that is learner centric.

How we do it

We replace the traditional classroom set up with a more learner-centric approach and incorporate multiple methods. This helps the children learn the basics of language and numbers. Teachers are trained to be facilitators and each child is encouraged to learn at their own pace. Learning stations are set up and the progress of each child is tracked in their student tracker, as they move from one station to another. On an average, it takes the children 3-6 months to settle into this system. The classroom is managed by the facilitator and a co-facilitator, one of whom interacts with an individual or a small group and the other manages the movement of the children between the stations.

How it has helped

THE TEACHER

Before Karka Primary Education

In most primary schools run by the government, a single teacher is forced to handle a large number of students, sometimes multiple classes as well. This affects the quality of teaching and thereby learning. Also, many of the students are first-generation learners and the parents do not understand the importance of regular attendance.

After Karka Primary Education

The KPE activities are included in the timetable made for the academic year. Including it with their regular classes, ensured continuity. Teachers are encouraged to be facilitators, and this enabled them to help each child based on their level.

THE SCHOOL

Before Karka Primary Education

The school was struggling with a significant drop out rate, and poor attendance. The school could not take steps to improve this due to a lack of resources.

After Karka Primary Education

With the help of the Foundation’s Karka learning environment, the school could retain its students as well as increase enrolment rates. Technologically enabled classrooms also help the students significantly.

THE STUDENT

Before Karka Primary Education

The young learners, all between ages 6 and 10 years could not be kept engaged for a long time. The students were not motivated to come to school or progress with learning either.

After Karka Primary Education

A blended learning model brought in exciting activities for the student and ensures active learning happens. The students track their own progress as well.

Project location

Mary Clubwala Jadhav Girls Higher School

30, Casa Major Road, Egmore, Chennai, Tamil Nadu 600008