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August 13, 2013

India

The language of social change

teach-English-in-IndiaThe Hindu reports on Vidyarambam Trust, which teaches English to underprivileged children in India and has also helped check dropout rates in government schools.

They are the children of poorly paid carpenters, electricians and daily wage labourers. Raised on the border of the poverty line, mostly in rural areas, these boys and girls have just one path to a better life – an education. But despite their talent and perseverance, this chance is compromised when they need to take an admission test or talk about themselves at a job interview. The bottleneck? Everything is in English.

“An urban child learns English as early as age two”, says Mr. V. Ranganathan, founder of the NGO Vidyarambam Trust, a non-profit organisation that provides free tuition and educational material to underprivileged children. “Until recently, government schools did not teach English at all. We’ve had teachers in these schools tell us that children are hesitant to even open their books. They don’t have the guts to attempt to read”. He believes that for the same reason, dropouts are common after Std. VIII or so, when English is abruptly introduced into their syllabus.

Vidyarambam’s strategy to put these children back on track involves logic that is simple, yet powerful – they recruit people who have completed Std XII and provide them with training on phonetic-based teaching of English (a far more effective method than conventional alphabet-based teaching), after which they are equipped to teach primary schoolchildren the basics of reading, writing and grammar. Older students (Std VI to IX) are taught by those with graduate degrees and the same training.

Read the full article from The Hindu.

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