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Educating Rural India January 2013
From the Editor

Calendar has changed and New Year 2013 has arrived.  Even though as an academic institution month of June brings in new beginning, but change of calendar year heralds its own excitement. We present a glimpse of past and future.

Between Apr 1, 2012 and Dec 31, 2012 some major investments were made - total of 18 classrooms were added along with 2 toilet blocks. Vegetable cutters for all 7 schools were purchased which have greatly eased the work of kitchen staff. All the schools have finally received much needed sports equipment. Other valuable additions to schools in this period were: Solar water heaters for cooking all 7 kitchen, furniture for 2 new classrooms in each school, Public Address systems for all 7 schools, etc.

We urgently need funds to build further classrooms and toilet blocks in the schools to meet the requirements of the new academic year. The classroom requirement is -10 in Erode, 8 in Vanavasi, 6 in Tuticorin, 10 in Coimbatore and 10 in Nagarcoil i.e. 44 in total. Cost of building and furnishing each classroom is Rs. 0.75 mln. Two Toilet blocks are also required in each of the 6 schools (Cud, Vil, Tut, Ngk, Cbe and Van) costing Rs. 1.12 million per school. To know more about the above requirements or pledge your donation for it, please write in to us at donations@ishavidhya.org.

Another urgent requirement is sponsorship of 700 scholarships which had been awarded to deserving students in the academic year 2012 – 2013. Your support in renewing / starting scholarships is requested so that these first generation students receive uninterrupted education.
Events - Isha Gold Jaunt, Saturday Guest Lecture by Sneham
School Buzz - Chronicle of school activities in month of December: Winning Science Exhibition, Tamil Word Kit, Traditional Food Festival, English on a Roll, Puppet Show, House Model Activity, Mock Elections, Christmas celebrations
Featured - Isha's Fundraising efforts
Get Involved - Chronicling students' profile, Content for DVD and CAL classes
Creative Zone - Arts & craft creations by students
Donation and Investments - Shade net for seedling nurseryNet & Poles, Tricycle to transport food, Solar panel, Learning kit for Tamil, Scholarships
Isha Golf Jaunt: On a cool winter morning on December 8, Isha held the first Annual Celebrity Charity Golf Jaunt at Jaypee Greens Golf Course, Greater Noida. Proceeds from the event went to Isha Vidhya.

Celebrity participants included well known designers Nikhil Mehra and Rohit Gandhi, Ratan Jindal- Vice Chairman and Managing Director of Jindal Stainless Group of Companies, cricketer Nikhil Chopra, General J J Singh - Governor of Arunachal Pradesh, Vikram Bakshi - MD McDonald’s India, and Vikram Baidyanath – CEO Baidyanath Group.

Through the event awareness about the Isha Vidhya Program has been created among people who are in a position to contribute significantly to it.

Saturday Guest Lecture by Sneham:
23 volunteers from SNEHAM, Infosys employee CSR foundation, visited Cuddalore School on 15th December 2012. After taking a tour of the school, they started on Lecture sessions. The first session was on Origami for students of 3rd to 8th standard. For the next session,students were divided into two groups – 3rd to 5th and 6th to 8th. Roshani taught basic English grammar (parts of speech) to students from 6th to 8th standard while Divaahar taught easy methods of multiplication using fingers.
State Level Science Exhibition:
The 40th Jawaharlal Nehru state level science exhibition was conducted by Directorate of school education in the month of December. Cuddalore school students, who had won the 2nd prize at district level with their model of “Safety mechanism to avoid accidents of School buses” participated in the competition and won 2nd prize again. They have been selected to represent southern region in the exhibition to be held at Karnataka.

Director of school education CEO's from all the district and many high officials visited Isha Vidhya Cuddalore stall. They were highly impressed by clear, confident explanation given by Isha Vidhya students. On being asked “what will be the benefit of the project” by Director of school education, Bharath , a student, smartly answered “you will save lives of many future Abdul Kalams”.

Students who participated in the exhibition were Barath R, Gowtham M R and Jeyanthnag K – all from 6th standard. The teachers who are instrumental in making the project a grand sucess are Ms. Nilofer and Mr. Ezhil Raj.
Traditional Food Festival:
Fifth standard Tamil lesson on Traditional food of Tamil Nadu was brought alive recently at IVMS Vanavasi by organizing a food festival in the school. The students were instructed to bring cooked food products made of cereals and pulses, similar to ones described in the lesson. Dosa, Idli, Paniyaram, Puttu, Sundal, Porridge, Adai etc were some of the items that were brought by students. These were made of maize, corn, rice, jowar or bajra.

The purpose of the activity was to enourage students to explore traditional food items which were made from locally grown products. Students were also taught about the nutritional value of these food items and their importance in a balanced diet.

The food items had to be cooked at home as it required special skills to bring the traditional taste. Through the activity, a circle of learning was created between school, students and parents.
House Model Activity:
At Isha Vidhya, many activities are planned which build mental capacity of students to develop concepts and convert them into a reality. 4th standard students of IVMS Villupuram built house models during one such activity. The activity also helped develop their fine motor skills and cognitive skills.
Christmas Celebration: Christmas Celebration 2012: Christmas was celebrated in Isha Vidhya schools before 21st Dec as the schools were closing for winter break after it.

Nagercoil School:
At Nagercoil school every class celebrated Christmas with their class teachers. Physical Education Teachers, Mr. David and Ms. Rekha, and students of 8th standard created a Christmas tableau where they set up a crib with clay dolls. A Christmas tree was also decorated with stars and balloons. LKG students danced to songs sung by the teachers and non teaching staff. Two students dressed up as Santa and distributed sweets to all the children.

Tuticorin School: Christmas was celebrated on 15th Dec, before start of exams. As part of decorations, the teachers made a kandil (paper lantern) with the
help of students. The Christmas program started with an invocation and then teachers read Jesus Christ’s message from the Bible. Students and teachers sang songs about Jesus's birth to the delight of the audience. Senior students enacted the drama about "Good Samaritan" from Bible and the UKG angels performed a group dance.

Christmas celebration cannot be complete without a Santa or two - Jerish from 5th standard dressed as Santa Claus and also danced to 'Jingle Bells'. Principal, Administrator, Teachers, non-teaching staff, Drivers and students received gifts by lucky draw. The program ended with distribution of cake, biscuits to students thanks to sponsorship by 2nd standard teacher Mrs. Ruba and her friends.
Tamil Word Kit:
Learning is easier and fun when it is in the form of an activity. Isha Vidhya teachers are encouraged to develop kits which help in making lessons interesting for the students. To develop any kit, the teachers have to first let go of their own knowledge and think like their young students. In tune with young one's sequence of thoughts and actions, teachers then create activity kit. The kit is also shared with other teachers to get feedback. Based on the feedback, they are fine tuned and then tested in real class situations.

UKG teachers of IVMS Cuddalore developed activity material for learning Tamil words. Students responded enthusiastically to the activity kit and have found it easy to remember new Tamil words through it.
English on a Roll: English on a roll is an activity oriented learning which encompasses MSL (Multi Structure Language) techniques. The activity involves use of cubes which is designed to systematically teach the structure and patterns of the English language. Most of the cubes in the cube set are engraved with color coded words that represent one basic pattern (rule) of English. For instance, one cube bears all the subject pronouns (I, you, he, she, it , we they). Since these words are always used in the same way to build sentences, the right answer is always on the cube. So students choose among six options instead of thousands! And as they rotate the cube to find the correct word, they learn by association that all six words are related.

Five years or older children are able to use the cubes. The cubes are placed in a paper bag, and a player picks one cube out, rolls it and spells the word that turns up. If the spelling is correct, he or she keeps the cube (it's worth a point at the end of the game) If the player can read the word aloud, that's another point.
Puppet Show:
Stories serve many purposes. They can convey an idea, explain a concept, lead audience to think of possible situations, evaluate choices and much more. Story telling is used extensively by Isha Vidhya teachers.

To convey the concept of “Unity is strength”, four KG teachers of IVMS Erode – Ms. Vijaya Revathy, Ms. Ponmalar, Ms. Sudha, Ms. Parimala organized a puppet show for KG students. In the puppet show, the story of escape of birds caught in the net set by bird-catcher by collectively flying at the same time was shown.

Some of the students seized the occasion to narrate stories at the end of the puppet show. Along with the students, the teachers also had an enjoyable time!
Mock Elections:
Election is a vital process in Democracy which requires candidates to create their manifesto, campaign and the electorate to choose their candidates wisely based on their history, their vision, their promises and the steps they plan to follow to achieve them. It is important to train the students in the process of elections from a young age so that they are able to steer the country wisely as an adult.

A mock election was conducted for 5th standard students of IVMS Villupuram under the guidance of Principal Ms. Malini. The importance and methodology of election process was explained to the students before the actual election day. Four candidates were nominated among the students who campaigned for 3 days before the election day. The nominees drew up a list of promises which they shared during the campaign.

School Principal Ms. Malini and coordinator Mr. Gebrial were the election commissioners while the teachers - Mrs. R. Kavitha, Mrs. S. Eswari and Miss.Parameshwari were election officers. On the day of mock election students eagerly cast their votes for their favourite candidate. The activity was based on a lesson in Social Science.
Fundraising gives an opportunity to break through personal inhibitions and develop confidence to inspire others. It gives a chance to develop marketing ideas, communication material and reach out to people one would initially be hesitant to. It helps one learn the process of setting targets and working to reach them. When young kids take it up, it leads to developing habits which help them life long.

We would like to share the story of one such young Fund raiser. Her name is Isha Jain.

Isha along with her parents who have been long time supporter of Isha VIdhya, visited IVMS, Coimbatore School during one of their visits to the Isha Yoga Centre.

15 year old Isha was excited to be in Isha Vidhya School. She spent time talking and playing with the students and even participating in a class. Even before the trip, she had signed up as a fund-raiser in the Mumbai Marathon by registering as a Dream Wizard (pledging to raise Rs 0.5 million and running the 7 km run). The visit to Isha Vidhya school and her interaction with Isha Vidhya students increased her motivation to raise funds for Isha Vidhya.

Initially Isha’s fund raising speed was a slow 1st gear gradually inching towards the 2nd gear, but after her visit it went on an overdrive. She created a personal fundraising page. Realizing that personalized appeals always work better than a formal letter, Isha designed a special appeal letter with pictures of her visit to the Isha Vidhya school.

She reached out to her parents and grandparents’ contacts, her Facebook network, her school mates and her huge list of cousins, uncles and aunts. During the winter vacation, Isha's days were filled with activities involving Isha Vidhya - emails, phone calls, cheque deposits, cash collection, developing better marketing ideas and more. She relentlessly followed up with each of the contact and accepted whatever amount they were willing to contribute to achieve her target of Rs. 0.5 million.

Isha's efforts have been an inspiration to not only Isha Vidhya supporters in Mumbai but many others involved with other causes!
Chronicling Student Profiles: If you are based in Coimbatore or visiting and can spare a couple of days, you can help us chronicle students' profiles. It requires compiling background of students, information about family, their journey through Isha Vidhya, benefits toimpact on the student, family and/or community from child attending arising from this.Isha Vidhya. No special skill set is required other than being a good listener, adept at getting personal information compassionately and collating information gathered from different sources. Knowledge of Tamil language is essential to connect with the child and the family. You will be required to take basic photographs to substantiate the gathered information. Please write in with your interest at asmita.sinha@ishavidhya.org or vinod.hari@ishavidhya.org.

LCD story telling activity: Isha Vidhya employs numerous non-conventional modes of education, a couple of which are DVD sessions and CAL sessions.

DVD classes are utilised for showing educational movies/ documentaries. They are mostly Science and Social Science based as large number of informative movies cover topics of these subjects. Any movie that is appropriate to the age level of students is screened. Some of these movies may be mapped to the syllabus but movies that couldn't be mapped to the syllabus are also used. Your help is needed to enrich the collection Isha Vidhya has.

CAL classesoffer an interactive method of learning subjects like English, Math and Science. Students interact with programs, key in answers, get immediate results for their answers. The CAL classes support the classroom teaching with animated programs and simulations. At the moment there is a huge need for interactive English programs for classes 3 up 5 and Science programs/ simulations for classes 6 up 9.

You can help us in identifying content for these classes and also by donating them. To know more about it, please contact us at senthil.ganesan@ishavidhya.org

To find out about other volunteering opportunities, please register* as Friend of Isha Vidhya and we will contact you to understand your volunteering interest.

*The registration process will take less than a minute.
Greeting cards made for donors
Ganesha from waste material
Between academic year 2011 – 2012 and 2012 – 2013, the number of students increased from 3436 to 3959 in the 7 schools. Another 130 students started their education in the Aragonda school. No. of scholarships awarded to underpriviledged student went up from 2100 to 2410.

Critical requirements:
Seed Shade Nets and Poles: Under the aegis of Project GreenHands, seedling nurseries were started in Isha Vidhya schools. Seedlings are grown by Isha Vidhya students in their spare time as part of their environmental awareness education. In the absence of shade nets, the seedlings are drying in the harsh sun of Tamil Nadu. We require Shade nets and poles for each of the 7 schools which cost Rs. 21000 per set ie. Rs. 147,000 for all schools together.

Tricycle to transport food: We urgently require tricycles for shifting food from kitchen to the hall in the main building where students eat. This academic year, we have more students who are availing of subsidized mid-day meals and it is proving difficult for the staff to carry the food. We need 3 of them as 3 schools already have them and the 7th school does not need it yet. Each transport tricycle costs Rs. 12000.

Solar panels: To eliminate the critical problem of erractic power supply and voltage fluctuations preventing UPS and batteries to function optimally, we are installing solar panels in Coimbatore school on trial basis before planning for other school. This will power the Computer lab, Audio Visual classroom, Digital classroom, Office room & Principal's computer. Cost of installation per school is 277,000.00 where in the cost of the panels is Rs. 252,000.00 and installation and wiring charges is Rs. 25,000.00

Learning Kit for Tamil – At the moment we are getting a 20% discount from an organization which has developed a comprehensive learning Tamil Language Kit. It includes Padippum Inikkum kit (Rs. 3,000), Story card bag (90 story cards) (Rs. 600), Word reading Flip charts (Rs. 350) and Story books (25 titles) (Rs. 500). We require a total of 14 kits i.e. 2 kits per school. After discount, cost of kits per school is Rs. 7,250 totalling Rs 50,750 for all schools together.

For enquiries or more info about donations, please email us at donations@ishavidhya.org.
Information about other requirements and donation opportunities is available here.
©Isha Vidhya 2013 14, C.A. Theyvar Layout, Kannaperan Mills Road, Udayampalayam, Coimbatore – 641 028, TN, India
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