Thursday, December 08, 2005

Akshara - First Steps in the Read Bangalore Project

As I've mentioned here and here, Akshara Foundation has undertaken a project in association with the Karnataka State Department of Education for augmenting the reading skills of primary school children (in classes 2 to 7) in about 1,374 goverment primary schools in and around Bangalore.

Once the initial base-line assessments are done (i.e., assessments of the level at which the students are currently reading and processing language), Akshara expects that about 72,000 (of about 1,90,000) children in these schools will need remedial help to bring their language skills to where they should be for their age.

Last Saturday, Bhaskar, Akash, Surjo, Mandar, Kelly and I met with Col. Rajan and Mr. Ravi Kumar of Akshara Foundation to go over what they need in terms of volunteer help. At that meeting they gave us a broad-brush presentation which gave us an idea of the scale of the project, its objective, the number of schools and the number of children involved, the kind of teacher training that will be necessary in order for the project to be successfully executed (about 3,600 goverment teachers will need to be trained to teach the children language skills over a period of 45 days), and an idea of the kind of logistics involved.

Today I had another meeting with Col. Rajan and Mr. Ashok Kamat (a trustee on Akshara's Board) regarding the first steps in this project in which we can we involved. The steps I'm describing below are only those steps in which we, as volunteers, can be involved in. There are various other pieces of the puzzle that Akshara is working on separately.

The work that needs to be completed over the next 3 and 1/2 months can be divided into two discrete steps:

1. Data Collection: There are three kinds of data that need to be collected - School data, Teacher data and Student data. To begin with, the Karnataka State Department of Education will provide Teacher and Student data to Akshara which Akshara is accepting for the time-being.

School data, on the other hand, will be primarily collected by Akshara. This is where we, the voluteers, come in. Starting December 15, 2005, Akshara will need voluteers to go to each of the schools (addresses and directions will be provided by Akshara), stand there at the location with a GPS receiver (which will also be provided by Akshara) and figure out the exact GPS location (latitudes and longitudes) of that school so the location of every single school under the project can be pin-pointed on a map.

The city is divided into 9 education blocks (with 77 clusters), so it would be possible for voluteers to pick an area and go to all the schools in a couple of clusters, for example, rather than criss-crossing the city and going all over the place.

All this work can be done on weekends and holidays (the schools need not be open for this purpose). The deadline for this step of the project is January 31, 2006.

2. Data Entry: All the data that comes in (School, Teacher and Student) will need to be keyed into computers. A couple of you had asked me if data entry can be done at home on personal computers and I confirmed today that that is possible. Data entry can be done at home and the spreadsheets can be e-mailed to Akshara. Alternatively, data entry can also be done at any of the 9 block offices of Akshara where they have dedicated computers for this purpose.

Akshara anticipates that this phase of the project will begin February 1, 2006 and the deadline is 31, March 2006.

What we need to do now is to let Akshara know which of these two phases each of the voluteers is interested in. Please leave a comment on this post with your preferance and I'll tabulate it so Akshara has a clear idea of where they have help and where they need more.

Please comment.

Crossposted on Everymanscity.

P.S. This is the 100th post on this blog. Somehow, seems fitting.

Update 1: Just wished to clarify that after the completion of the two steps described above, there will be follow-up work in the data analysis and assessment areas. Many of you have expressed interest in those areas as well, and there is plenty of opportunity to be involved in that. Thanks.

Update 2: Global Voices has linked to this effort here. Thank you Global Voices.

Update 3: Anita Bora at Just a Little Something links to this post here. Thank you Anita.


The ramblings of a shoe fiend said...

Congratulations on your 100th post and all the best with the work you and the team will be doing with Akshara

A Motley Tunic said...

congratulations on your 100th post. great going with Akshara too.

Kelly said...

I'll be happy to do some data entry Sujatha. 100 posts--WOW!


Taz Snow said...

Congrats on your 100th!! :o)

Count me in for the Data Entry pls...

gawker said...

All the best with your work. Hope you gather the requisite workforce.

Anjali said...

Sujatha, I'll be happy to do some data entry if it can be done from home. I also remember you mentioning something about documentation in an earlier post. Is help needed for that as well?

And congrats on the 100th post!

Sujatha Bagal said...

SF, Sowmya and Gawker, thanks!

Kelly, Taz and Anjali, I'll put your name down for the data entry. And thank you!

Anjali, the documentation requires a lot of involvement in terms of talking to people everyday, writing about all that has transpired so far and will transpire in the following months, etc. I've signed up for it with Akshara, but if I need help as the days go by, I know who to call! Thank you.

- Ubiquitous - said...

Hey Sujatha

Sounds like great work for a greater cause.

My friends and I would be really glad to be of help. But the hitch is -- we have college till 21st and Psychology Practs finals on 19th =( And most of us, including me, are going out of station cuz of Xmas vacations.

Hey, wont we have any work to do in Jan? If we will, please lemme know.

Would be really glad to be a part of this project.


And like others said, Congrats on your 100th post :)

Anonymous said...

Hey Sujatha
Your page display is messed up. The right side of the links (about me etc.)have all been pushed to the bottom. Hope you will fix it.

Congrats on your 100th post.

Sujatha Bagal said...

Reyn, of course that is possible. We'll get back in touch about this during the second week of Jan. As I mention in the post, there is work to be done in the first couple of phases until the end of March and then again in the following phases until the end of August. So yeah, plenty of work! And thanks!

Rajeshwari, I'll definitely fix it. Thanks.

remainconnected said...

As I had already informed you because of other commitments in office, Dec '05 is a bit overloaded. I will definitely look forward to meet you in Jan'06 to contribute towards both Phase 1 (I can look after the remaining part of the "Koramngala" belt which would be remaining by then )and also the Phase 2 part.
But I will be in touch with you during the entire course through e-mails and your blog site for Dec'05 timeframe.
Keep up the good work and congrats for your 100th posting,so where is the treat ...Ok Ok forget about the real treat,lets plan for a e-treat :-)
Have a nice day..

Bhaskar Sree said...

congrats on the 100th post.. and yeah i can do a bit of that GPS stuff too... around Mahalakshmi layout area


Emma said...

Congratulations on your 100th post, and all the very best with Akshara work. If any of the online work can be done away from Bangalore do let me know. I work with ASHA for Education and hence I understand how important this is. So, do let me know if I can contribute in some manner. You can reach me at

Sujatha Bagal said...

Tanay, thank you for your message. I'll put you down for Jan 06. Please do send me an e-mail when you are ready to take on some work. Thank you.

Bhaskar, thanks, I'll put that down on the table.

Emma, thank you and such a lovely thought, but I don't know how we would coordinate it with interested people who are out of town. Let me ask and find out. Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

Congrats on 100th post.
I will surely put in some hours for data entry.Let me know.

Anonymous said...

Sujatha, great going with Akshara. this is just what I keep thinking about - bloggers getting togethr to do something useful in "real life" :)
and congrats on the 100th post!

Sujatha Bagal said...

Tejesh, thanks. I've included your name and your preference in the spreasheet I sent out to Col. Rajan today.

Charu, thanks!

Minal said...

Impressive work, and all the best to achieve the best in this project.

FifthBeatle said...

hey, i really liked the pics you've posted... not much of reader me.. but i like the pictures..

..and yea.. good job on the 100!!

Sujatha Bagal said...

Arnold, thanks for visiting and for your comment.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad to see your 100th post.Congrats.Again I'm down with the same helpless situation ...not a Bangalorean(hope you remember my last comment).I can just wish you luck.

Sujatha Bagal said...

Thanks Jazz. Even best wishes count for something!

Anonymous said...

Sujatha, I'd really like to be involve dwith this project. I don't know if I can be of any help by sitting here in the US, but if I there's anything I can do, please let me know (

I also love working with GIS applications, and I can see it coming of use in this project. DO keep me in mind, if that's something that's part of the project vision,

Sujatha Bagal said...

Thanks Ash. I'll check and see if this is possible.