Coming from a family that places high value on education, Roopa Ravishankar and her father MG Hariharan wanted to improve the standard of learning in schools. Initially, they thought of starting a school but soon had to reassess their plans, owing to its capital intensive nature and challenges with scalability.
Thus, the father-daughter duo decided to work with existing schools that have basic resources but are not able to deliver good quality educational outcomes because of their inability to attract and retain quality teachers. Hence, they established Tejas Foundation, a not-for-profit trust in 2012 focussed on improving educational outcomes in maths and science.
“As we visited many schools, it was clear that the basic proficiency of students in maths and science was very poor, even in higher grades,” recalls Roopa, a BTech from NIT Trichy, who has spent 10 years working at IBM and Accenture.
Since the foundation's vision is to improve the standard of education at government schools, it identifies the schools with fees less than Rs 300 per month. It, then, provides training to the teachers of these schools and equips them to handle digital classrooms. In doing so, the level of involvement of the foundation varies from school to school. For instance, in government schools of Bengaluru, it has designated two supervisors per school who run the intervention programs. Besides this, the foundation has partnered with Colours of Life, a Bengaluru-based NGO, to facilitate its Maths Erudite program - Our Math Lab.
Their Maths program consists of thousands of problems for the children of grade one to ten. Everyday, the students enrolled in the program get forty-five minutes to learn and practice these math questions using computers or tablets.
The foundation has also launched the Drona Erudite program. This program is essentially an e-class where the syllabus for Karnataka board from grade five to ten is covered. The content for the program, available in both English as well as Kannada, is developed by the in-house team of the foundation.
Initially, when Tejas foundation went to demonstrate the content, they found the management in government schools to be apprehensive about deploying the content that is not mapped to the syllabus. Therefore, they went back to the drawing board and developed the program content in lines with the school curriculum.
Every topic has about 30% content in addition to the topics covered under the syllabus. And every student is individually baselined and continuously monitored every three months to assess the performance improvements. We also receive a lot of requests from remotely located affordable private schools for content. So, we support such schools as well,” says Roopa.
To run the programs at government high schools in Hubli, Tejas Foundation has partnered with Deshpande Foundation, which has a team of four members working in seven schools. In addition, one of the donors of Tejas Foundation, Colors of Life has provided it with 25 tablets for the program.
Currently, Tejas Foundation is working with 25 schools, of which about 12 schools are in Bengaluru. It plans to expand to 40 schools by the next academic year.
On the content side, the foundation currently has 1,000 teaching modules in maths and science across grades five to ten. The Math Lab comprises more than 900 different modules across grades one to ten. Also, in the near future, the foundation aims to create content for CBSE as well as other state boards such as Maharashtra, and Tamil Nadu.
Currently, the content is freely available on their website, but Tejas foundation also plans to distribute it through YouTube for ease of access. The foundation has a team of 15 members of which 10 are into content development and 5 are into content creation.
Access to quality education for underprivileged children has always been a cause of concern in our country. However, Tejas foundation considers establishment of ‘The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act' of 2010 as a step in the right direction. Apart from the government initiatives, significant contribution has been made by various NGO's such as Smile Foundation, Teach for India, Make a Difference, Pratham to ensure easy access of quality education for everyone.
Camera Person: Rukmangada Raja
Video Editor: Anjali Achal