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).

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