A Model School
Rotary Club International gave us the opportunity to run a full-time regular school ...

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Programs & Curriculum
Learn more about the 7 different programs across different levels organized by us.

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How does Vidyarambam monitor the operations?

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Back to School - The Hindu

Kooram that lies far to the north-west of Kancheepuram town in Tamilnadu is a poor village. It has a main village, roughly two square kilometers, with nearly 700 families and a peripheral colony where another 180 lower caste families live. The caste consciousness has not raised the well being, with the higher caste lot probably a few shades better off than the landless, dispossessed lower caste sections that have been banished to the periphery of Kooram.

Almost a square with narrow zigzag lanes cutting across the length and breadth, Kooram, according to Viswanathan the defacto headman (his wife, Anjali Viswanathan, is the elected village panchayat president), has five Siva temples, each nearly 1000 years old. "Despite such traditional and historical wealth, our village is not developed. With all these temples, it could easily be a tourist spot," sighed Viswanathan.

Though tourism could raise the land value and trigger some development as investors stake funds on tourism-related facilities, nothing would help more than a broader outlook and a spirit of tolerance - qualities rare in villages crowded with illiterate masses, to whom castes matter more than financial prowess and status a human being.

The roads around the village are slushy after a recent spell of rain, and one stretch to the west is particularly bad after laden trucks ploughed the road.

Kooram, where life seems to inch forward slower than a movie in slow motion, seems to have woken up to the need to initiate the very young into the world of education. In a Panchayat schoolroom, four women sat on the floor listening to Prema Veeraraghavan, resource person of the Chennai-based Vidyarambam Trust. These four village women, with basic school education sat listening to the methods of instructing children. Outside a group of children played noisily on the empty corridor outside a locked classroom.

"Do not force anything on children. Give them some activity that will help develop their hand-eye co-ordination, such as threading the beads. Even when you teach them Tamil, make sure you write the simplest letters of the alphabet first. You do not have to follow the usual order of alphabets strictly. There can be only 20 children in a classroom, none less than three years old or more than five. For the first level education no child should be more than four years old," the resource person said.

Each teacher was given a kit - a mobile black board, charts, pencil, chalks, duster and packets of flexible plastic numbers as well as English and Tamil alphabet. The enlisted students sat quietly in groups. The anganavadi instructor - a middle aged woman - sternly kept the group of fidgety, energetic children checkmated on an invisible rectangle that their tender bottoms marked on the cement floor. Some even had their finger on their lips, in strict conformity to the anganavadi teacher's command.

The classrooms were either panchayat schools, or a room in the house of the instructor or in a room of a benevolent villager. Even temple premises were turned into makeshift classrooms. The rooms were not always well ventilated, and often had no lights or fans. The volunteer teachers preferred to gather the children away from such punishing enclosures. Even some shade under a tree was preferred to the hell an unventilated room could be 20 pre-school children. Luckily, village children were unfamiliar with the facilities city children expect, demand and get.

There were many children who were less than three years and some older than five. The volunteer teachers who had got the group together were asked politely to remove these over aged or under aged children from the target group.

Most of the teachers were young though one could never be sure if each was highly motivated. The teachers were paid a monthly stipend and were required to keep records of children attending the classes. In other words, the familiar attendance registers had to be kept up to date.

"We are using the Montessori method because it gives children a lot of freedom. Nothing is forced down their throats. Because of this, village children will like to attend school and listen to the teachers. Once the foundation is strong, these children will find it easy to adapt themselves to the regular stream," said Dr. K.R.Subramanian, an anaesthesiologist who has turned to social work.

Though the children were a little hesitant at first, they soon overcame their fears and focussed on the activities in the classrooms, enjoying every moment. The Trust gave away lightweight shoulder bags to each child, and all loved it. The name of the Trust screen-printed on the bag was no eyesore.

What mattered was the villagers realized that if children could be motivated to attend pre-school before they were old enough to be driven to work or given away as bonded labour for a handful of rupees, the parents might not hesitate to put their children through regular school. The children also might not throw a tantrum when asked to go to school. They would remember the pleasure and freedom in pre-school.

Whether the Government schools provide them with equally enjoyable education is beside the point. "They would be more adaptable," said Dr.Subramanian. Though the intervention by the Vidyarambam Trust has been on a very small scale, there is little doubt that the quality of instruction despite the inherent flaws would help village children enter the world of formal education happily.

Our Vision
Vidyarambam is dedicated to providing enjoyable quality education to all the less-privileged and under-achieving children at pre-primary, primary and secondary levels, encouraging them to successfully continue their education.
Our Goal
In the coming years, Vidyarambam plans to i) increase its presence from 8 to 14 districts in Tamilnadu; ii) expand to provide Easy Learning English (ELE) to government secondary schools in the city; and iii) replicate the success of its model school in one other district
The Trust
Registered as a Not for profit Organization. Donors enjoy 100% tax exemption under section 35 AC and 50% exemption under section 80 G of the Income Tax act.
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