Saturday, April 12, 2008

Other Notes About the Tuition Centers

Chaitanya has only been operating since 2004, and has come a very long way in this time, in terms of achievements in the villages where it operates.

Chaitanya tuition centres follow up on homework pending from that day’s school lessons or week at school. They then cover difficult topics taught recently at school, to ensure full understanding. This ensures that homework is up-to-date and that students are confident to go to school and proceed with their studies.

My unannounced site visits to the tuition centres during Ugathi & the school holidays found most centres with an average student attendance on the days of my visits of between 30-70% of the total enrolled. This is quite high for the holiday period. There were two centres that were not running o the days that I had visited them. My visits were intended as a surprise test of how the centres normally function.

Rs17,000 per month provided by Asha for Education is funding the tuition service for 700 enrolled students, 6 days/wk for 2hrs/day with at least 300 students coming very regularly from my own observations. General attendance is reported at approximately 600 in aggregate from the roll lists held by the individual teachers (and rolls taken regularly). Running a school for this many children in a single location would be very difficult on this budget, and yet it is being done at 13 different locations, each a village with minimal infrastructure services, and each providing some level individualized attention to students needs.

Chaitanya has also provided computer training to 150 children in the local area some time back. This was funded from by Chaitanya.

All the tuition centres operate well, with a few operating very well and some running poorly. The biggest factor affecting attendance and the performance of the centre and the students is parental support for education in the village. Roughly only five centres have good parental support, with the remaining having fairly poor interest from parents. The five centres show students performing extremely well, with other centres operating at a standard level. Two centres are experiencing some difficulty - Jaganurhatti & Hosa Channabasaihatti. Hosa Channabasaihatti has been having some trouble since starting. These centres are not running regularly and this is of some concern. The main reason for problems in these centres is family problems for the teachers there. One has a young son who is frequently ill for instance. Chaitanya staff conduct regular meetings with important members of the village when the centres are experiencing difficulties. If centres experience irreconcilable problems, centres are closed down in one village, and funds can be diverted to establishing centres in villages where there is greater interest for tuition services.

During the annual school leave period, some students leave the village for their parent’s village, while around two-thirds remain for tuition even during holidays. In one centre for example, of the 13 students enrolled, five had left for their villages when I visited the centre without notice, and eight remained and attended tuition.

Even with text-assisted flash cards, the teacher’s knowledge of English is a limitation on the usefulness of the flash cards.

KB Nagara and Mallapanahatti are two centres that I visited. Mallapanahatti has quite a few students and the teacher is fairly competent. It would be useful for teachers to be given training in how to handle large class sizes (i.e. in excess of 10 students).

Monday, April 7, 2008

Tuition Centres 2008 Reviews

Hi there,

My name is Bany and I'm from Australia. I'm here at Nayakanahatti for two months and I'm volunteering with Chaitanya through Asha for Education, hopefully to do something useful. I'm stayiong with Ramesh Paineedi and family and it's great. I've also been reviewing the activities of Chaitanya, including the tuition centres funded in part by the India-wide charity, "Asha for Education." Asha's website is You can find out about interning at a project on the ground on the website. Or, if you;d like to come to Chaitanya and teach the kids English, set up some computing facilities, provide electricity with renewable energy, help build local enterprises etc , contact Ramesh Paineedi, the founder of chaitanya, directly at this email address: --> He'll get back to you within a week at most. More info on Chaitanya can be found at ASha's website here:

Here is some info i've jotted down about some of the centres I've visited. They provide a fairly good representation of things in all 13 centres in thirteen villages within 15km of Nayakanahatti. There are 50 villages within 15km of Nayakanahatti in total, and a minimum of 100,000 villagers residing in the them.

Mallurahatty Tuition Centre

Attendance rate of over 80% per student.

When students are absent, their main reasons include parents not being at home, visiting relatives in other villages, tasks & chores asked of them, and health problems.

Half of the tuition centre is not lit (very dim) because there is only one fluorescent tube.

Two main reasons for students wanting to learn English: better jobs with higher income, ability to communicate with foreigners and visit foreign lands, AND

Students find the learning aids, pictures and charts extremely useful to their learning process.

English reading and writing is good, but speech and understanding is poor. This is largely due to lack of practice.

No computers are available in the local government school

Electricity and two lights are however available in the centre

There is no power point for a computer system in the tuition centre – only a light fitting

Attendance is lower at tuition during holidays and festivals

125 students are in the local government school, and approximately 70 of them are enrolled in the tuition centre

There is a local private high school offering classes for 8th-10th standard students because there is no government high school. The government does provide assistance to the school. 110 students are enrolled.

Pre-university studies, +1 & +2 are not provided in the village, but are available in nearby Gramma Panchayats and Taluks.

Spoken English is even poor at the private school

Lack of funds and electricity are the main reason for not procuring computers in the school.

A few students sing basic English songs at the tuition centre

5 out of 30 older student who learn English feel that their English has improved by attending the tuition centres. The main reason for slower improvement is because the teachers have only basic knowledge of spoken English.

There is excellent parental support for and interest in education in this village, primarily because the parents themselves are educated. The parent turn-out & response to my visit was incredible. Approximately 35 parents were present.

The parents are very happy to send their student to tuition an extra 2 hours each day (using lighting) to learn English with computer assistance for the teacher.

Parents feel students scope is limited by only learning Kannada.

A single daily newspaper in Kannada is delivered to the village by Chaitanya. There is excellent readership in the village

Each grade of students form a group in a circle in the class. Each group has a leader. The system is very effective.

Physical exercises & cultural activities are run by Chaitanya on Saturdays.

20-25% of student understand spoken English reasonably well among older students who study English.

The government provided a Rs35,000 solar photovoltaic street light near the centre that operated well for 4-5 years and has not been functioning for 2 years because the battery was not replaced at its end of life. The battery cost is approximately Rs.7,000-10,000

5 out of 30 students have seen a computer

The students who have arrived late to class have usually done so because they have been arriving from a long distance

80-90% of students they want to learn English, particularly older students in grade 3 to 7.

Students are willing to study from 6pm to 9.30 to learn English for an extra 2 hours above the standard tuition time.

The students feel they need a teacher in addition to the computer and that they cannot learn English using a computer alone

They prefer a computer with a teacher than a teacher without a computer.

5-7 students out of the 30-40 students speak some English

Jogihatty Tuition Centre

Classes run from 4pm-6pm because the centre building has no electricity or lighting.

Younger children don’t learn English – only the older children.

Children want an extra two hours tuition if possible (as indicated by those that have attended) – this is only possible with lighting

Attendance is roughly 60-70%

Non-attendance is common to an extent.

The main reasons for absence include parents giving children chores to complete. e.g. carrying bricks, milking goats, carrying tank water to the house etc.

Tuition is mostly in Kannada medium, but children do also want to learn English (keen interest expressed)

None of the children have computers in school and no-one has seen a computer

Gowdegere Tuition Centre

One small incandescent light bulb was burning (very, very dimly) in the large room with 40-50 students during my visit to the centre. The light was definitely not sufficient to read or write. This light is drawing its power from a nearby house. Normally, a light is connected to a different circuit that has been damaged recently. It should be available again in 10-15 days. That light is usually much brighter.

Solar lights would be extremely beneficial for this centre as a backup (or even as a regular) solution.

Volunteer teachers would like to have some furniture in the building (it is a new centre)

Chaitanya has already purchased a storage facility for teaching materials upon request of the teachers.

A laptop with English Flash Cards and some English software was brought to the class. This was the first time the students had seen a computer and interacted with such a screen and software.

Student response to the computer and software was one of great excitement and interest.

Flash cards with text (and guidance by the teacher) were a great success

Flash cards without text were less of a success, but were still useful for multi-language teaching

The educational games did not work well with large classes & a small computer screen

The teachers speak reasonable English here, and the students do as well. Student read English very well.

Student want more sports equipment and notebooks and pens in the centre. Chaitanya is already providing textbooks. Notebooks and pens are usually supplied from home. Chaitanya is also providing sports equipment already (e.g. hoola-hoops, skipping ropes etc.).

Duraigalahatty Tuition Centre

This is a new centre opened one week ago in late March.

10-15 students, 4pm-6pm classes

Electricity available

Tuition centre is the teacher’s home

Basic English is taught in the centre

Some of the local men and women also join the class when they are free

The children have never seen a computer

It would be difficult for the children to travel to the computer centre in Nayakanahatti because of the 4-5km distance and the lack of buses during the rainy season. Parents of the children are also working most of the time.

There is a local women’s self-help group taking loans for economic development

Students want to learn English and computing but there are no facilities locally

Ramadurga Tuition Centre

Teacher knows how to use a computer and has been awarded an I-Tech certificate in computing competency in Bangalore.

This village has financial problems, and the centre reflects this.

Again, the tuition centre is part of the teacher’s house.

There is a single, small room attached to the house that is available for teaching, but it is too small for the 25-35 students who attend. As a result, children sit outside the house in a covered space to take their classes. The space has a thatched leaf roof and dung-covered floor (prevents bacterial prolification).

There is electricity available (except during 11am-4pm for the daily scheduled brown-outs) and a light bulb that can be used outside for the lesson

The teachers identified the students as having difficulty with their Maths & English homework because of a lack of teaching expertise in these areas, and a lack of educated members of the family in the area. It is a very small and poor village.

Chaitanya purchased and donated a sewing machine to the teacher to encourage self-employment. She runs a tailoring business with it.

Students regularly attend tuition and also go to the local government school

Tuition is run from 5.30pm-7.30pm

The teacher feels an indoor facility that is large enough to accommodate the students is needed. She also feels solar lights would be quite useful.

Students have never seen a computer but are interested in using one.

The teacher is a good singer and at least two students (one 6th and one 8th grade) are also exceptional singers, exhibiting a very good sense and use of pitch, unlike in the other villages where students have also sung.

The teacher is the main resource in this village and is an exceptional asset to the students and the village. The quality of education is clearly greatly dependant on the quality of the teachers.

The teacher is doing a good job teaching English at the level she is able to. All the students can spell & say simple words in English.

Students also participate in physical activities run by the teacher, including running, skipping, jumping, throwing hoops.

The total population of the village is 1,500 people, living in 180 houses.

The village has no bus services and only one auto rickshaw’s service.

The villagers in the village use firewood, often in covered or indoor spaces to cook their meals, because they are very poor. There is a lot of smoke and the flame is inefficient in transmitting heat.