AID-Chennai is the main AID chapter in India and has been active for the past six years with a solid base of volunteers. It is headed by a former AID volunteer from University of Maryland. They have undertaken and liaisoned on a number of projects, including the Hundred Blocks Plan to improve health facilities in thousands of villages across India. They have tied up with the Tamil Nadu Science Forum (TNSF), which is an organization of teachers with over 20 years of experience in literacy movements.
Goals of Project
The quality of education in most Government and Corporation Schools in India is poor and leads children to learn very little. The facilities and teaching methods are inadequate and often cause students to stop coming to school at an early age.
This project, Eureka Science Network, aims to supplement these children in primary school with additional educational and extracurricular activities after school hours. This would increase interest among children to continue their education and prevent drop outs. The innovative teaching methods provide focused attention to the critical subjects of Mathematics and Sciences through the use of creative experiments and science videos.
Besides schools, this project also targets some of the slums where the students come from to increase awareness among the parents on the need for education and women's empowerment.
The Bloomington chapter approved support for the project after a site visit in March 2003 to the schools where the programs are running. The support funds two full time volunteers and ten part-time volunteers to work in a total of ten schools and four slums in Chennai. These volunteers range from working professionals to college students. This directly helps more than 300 students in these schools. The project is slated to expand to a total of 100 schools over the next few years.
Teachers workshops were conducted in August for the volunteers to train them and prepare new educational material. Books and literary magazines have been pooled to form a resource library for students and volunteers. Videos of scientific experiments have been made to help reach a larger audience. Smaller experiments have been put together as science kits. 3. "Thulir Illam" or Science clubs are being formed in some of the schools.
The response from the students and their parents has been very positive and the children have been attending the program regularly, even though it is after school. Many other schools have also evinced interest in starting this program in their school.