Launched in June 2016, after successful running in 3 schools across Tamil Nadu, this project focuses on children at the
Bottom-of-the-Pyramid, and is backed by KML’s mission.
Karka Math Lab was started because only 29.9% of Class 3 students across the country attending Government Educational Institutions were able to solve basic subtraction of class 2. Even alarming were the class 5 kids, of whom a good 39% were still unable to solve the same class 2 subtraction problems. And the trend is declining each year. (According to studies conducted by ASER (Annual Status of Education Report which are released by the minister of HRD, India).
When we reflected on this scenario and how to overcome this problem, we set out on a journey to find what the problems were. We began by observing the functioning of some of these institutions while being involved with them through our Gift a future project and came across the following issues which could be contributing towards these declining trends:
1. Lack of good teachers
2. Inadequate/ Inappropriate learning content (Instead of a gradual increase in terms of difficulty level in Math as the children proceed to the next class, there is a sudden leap making the concept difficult to understand for most children).
3. Lack of understanding the individual skills of students (Teachers in these Institutions are required to balance their teaching functions with administrative responsibilities which leaves them less time to understand the kids and their skills)
This need was what steered us in creating the Karka Math Lab. The main purpose of the project was to create a tangible and robust classroom model, which could easily be adopted in different schools across the country with simple guidelines.
Our solution was a very radical and path-breaking one that was inspired by educational innovators around the world. We adapted the solution for a school setting to replace the classroom model of teaching and transform into a self-learning environment facilitated by technology. This solution has now become a robust & efficient classroom model, which can readily be replicated anywhere.
To make this happen, we started by looking for quality content online. That’s when we stumbled upon a TED talk delivered by Mr. Salman Khan; a US based educator who started the non-profit organization www.khanacademy.org. The motto of Khan Academy is “free world class education for anyone, anywhere” and this was exactly what we were looking for. Once Khan Academy was chosen as our free online content source, the next logical step was to examine its content and map it to the curriculum followed by these schools. This approach of choosing an open source content solves a couple of key problems:
Quality Content: With Khan Academy, we are able to deliver global content to schools that otherwise do not have an access to it.
Quality Teachers: The quality of teaching and learning in these schools were found to be low, with mathematics taught in an undifferentiated, rote-learning style. With Khan Academy we have Mr. Salman Khan delivering all the video lectures himself in a fun engaging way and also ensuring quality and consistency.
We started by setting up a Math Lab in a spare room at Kesari Higher Secondary School, which is a school for underprivileged children. We brought in affordable low-cost computers with connection to the Internet and created a curriculum based on their school syllabus and using only the content (videos & exercises) available on www.khanacademy.org
In order to achieve improved quality of education and performances of students, Karka Math lab made significant, pioneering changes in two aspects of school. We made changes in the Environment, with regard to the classrooms and the facilitation methods as well. These changes are explained in detail below:
We believe, one of the key aspects of a successful learning model is a conducive environment. If the environment is fun & inviting, the learning starts happening on its own. Hence, we spent our initial days planning the most efficient environment that is functional, operational friendly and has a fun classroom design.
The role of a teacher is transformed to that of a facilitator, whose ultimate aim should be to facilitate learning to the kids. We started our first labs with fresh graduates from Universities, who are passionate about education and certainly determined to make a difference.
In order to begin facilitating, one must first understand where a child is in his/her understanding of the subject and how to help them grow from there. Evolving these baselines for every student was the key factor. The process of Facilitation can be divided into the following factors:
1. Developing baseline for each students
2. Facilitate ease of understanding (like; avoiding language barriers, etc.)
3. Implement reward systems to motivate kids
4. Facilitating kids to self manage their time by creating periodical goals & targets for them.
We have launched in June 2016, and will be updating the outcomes at the end of term I.
Kesari Higher Secondary School
Thiyagaraya Road, T. Nagar, Chennai – 600017