Reading is an essential
foundation for a child's learning. Unless this ability
is ingrained early, progressing further is a struggle for
the child. Estimates indicate that nearly 45% of children
in government primary schools (in the age group 7-10) around
the country are unable to read simple words fluently; while
60% cannot write a simple sentence that is dictated.
Over the years, though the government has laboured to improve
enrollment through various programmes like Chinnara Angala,
Coolie Inda Shalege, and Baa Marali Shalege; the learning
achievement inside the classroom has continued to be dismal
Akshara Foundation conceived the Accelerated Reading Programme
against this backdrop: the programme aims to enable children
to ‘learn of read'. Since reading intrinsically
linked to the learning process, the programme focuses on developing
the reading ability in children. Working towards the ultimate
goal of ensuring that every child is in school and most importantly
learning well, Akshara conceived a regional adaptation of
the Accelerated reading technique.
Akshara making inroads
Set up, as a public charitable trust
in March 2000, Akshara has been continually engaged in efforts
to universalize elementary education in Karnataka state. Envisioning
Karnataka as a reading state, Akshara advocates strong partnerships
with different stakeholders – government, citizens'
organizations, communities and the corporate sector. Evolving
a workable model to energize the existing education system,
Akshara believes that public- private partnerships hold the
key to providing the required impetus to change mindsets and
make available quality elementary education to every child.
Over the years, though the government
has labored to improve enrollment through various programs,
the learning achievement inside the classroom has continued
to be dismal and disappointing.
Akshara Foundation conceived the Accelerated
Reading Programme against this backdrop: The programme aims
to enable children to 'learn to read'.
Working closely with children from under-privileged
backgrounds for the past 5 years, Akshara's field experience
has led to a reasonable understanding of the education matrix.
To enhance the learning outcomes in government schools, the
organization chose to adapt the Pratham model (tested in different
states, mainly Maharashtra) to the regional context.
Akshara's Road Map
Akshara's field observations showed that
Children were compelled to cope with higher learning levels
without strong basics.
Promotions to higher grades was faulty - it did not consider
learning achievement as a basic measure.
Teachers' single-minded focus on completing the syllabus impacted
heavily on the quality of teaching and on the extent of learning
Community involvement (parents) was nil as most children were
first generation school-goers.
To address these issues Akshara Foundation
has worked out a strategic approach to achieve the 'Reading
Step 1: The first step focuses on enabling
children to read -'Learn to Read' phase. Here children are
taught to read using the Accelerated Reading technique.
Akshara believes children in government schools with a below-average
reading level would directly benefit in this phase.
The organization aims to ensure that every child in Karnataka
is able to read by implementing the Accelerated Reading Programme
where required in the Phase 1.
Step 2: The focus then shifts to providing
worthwhile reading material such that interest in reading
is sustained. It also incorporates comprehension and writing
This works as a learning reinforcement to check if children
comprehend what they read.
Step 3: Once the reading ability of children
is established, and their writing skill is built in, creating
the 'reading-learning' atmosphere through libraries is the
next step. Libraries established both in communities and in
schools, form crucial education resources where children gain
knowledge to supplement their classroom learning.
Akshara's efforts strive to integrate innovative teaching
modules, attractive teaching-learning materials as part of
regular curriculum with a final goal of enhancing learning
outcomes in schools.
Towards a 'Reading Karnataka'
Implement 45 story-card reading programme
across government schools to
ensure every child 'learns to read'
Devise 'read to learn'
programmes to sustain the kindled enthusiasm & interest
in reading with comprehension & writing skills.
& create 'learning' atmosphere in schools & community
Redefine conventional teaching; formulate
an innovative teaching module to train teachers, & enhance