For the past one year, about 700 children from underprivileged families, mostly Dalits, in Chennai and a remote village in Bihar are being imparted informal education by volunteers from the same community. The children, who were earlier averse to basic learning, are now showing incremental improvement and are able to read their regional language and English textbooks.
The Teaching Reading Project (TRP), a pilot initiative of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Madras, is changing the lives of these young minds.
Under the project, five Chennai city corporation schools at Mogappair, Cholambedu and Taramani and five government schools in Pindaruch village in North Bihar were selected. Nearly 200 children from Chennai and 500 from Bihar village were benefited by the gesture.
The three-year programme is being financially supported by Tamil Nadu Newsprint and Papers Ltd (TNPL), which is pumping in `15 lakh per year under Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).
The national co-ordinator Rajesh Kumar, Professor, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, IIT- M, said the project had completed one year. The recent progress test showed that about 30 per cent students got about 10 on 10 for reading their Tamil/Hindi and English text books, and about 40 per cent students got about five or more on 10, which is satisfying.
The project team in Chennai is led by retired Professor K Elango from the Department of English, Anna University, and National Secretary of the English Language Teachers’ Association of India (ELTAI). Now, the governments of Jharkhand and Puducherry are also showing interest in this model of education for their underprivileged children, said Rajesh Kumar.
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