Makkal Palli Iyakkam

Project Brief: The idea behind this programme is organizing local communities to use government schools after school hours for community learning needs. This will hopefully make use of schools an additional 25-40 hours every week.
Project Type: Community Awareness Programs (description)
Primary Focus: to go to formal school (description)

Secondary Focus: creating resources

Area: Rural
Supporting Chapter Contact: Seattle
Status: completed - requirements ended
Project Steward: Jayashree Janardhan
Project Partner(s):
Other Contacts:
Project Address: , AID-India,Old No. 132,Avvai Shanmugam Salai,Gopalapuram,
TAMIL NADU  600086
Tel: 91-44-811 5058
Stewarding Chapter: Seattle

Asha Stars, if any:

Jayashree Janardhan

Dec 2004LondonINR 150000

Total = $3270

Makkal Palli Iyakkam (people’s movement towards education) is a programme run by the Tamilnadu Science Forum to improve the basic literacy and numeric skills in primary school children based in the slums of Chennai. It encourages local communities to use government schools after school hours for community learning needs.
The programme has three broad elements:

1. Enrol all children into schools - volunteers work in conjunction with the local communities to monitor and reduce the number of school drop outs. They also hold support classes for slow learners.

2. Make learning a fulfilling experience – volunteers encourage extra-curricular activities (e.d) teach kids to make toys and hold library reading sessions.

3. Hold evening classes for adults and children - classes on health, night sky watching, understanding cells and atoms, organic agriculture; Library and Sports for adults; Human Anatomy, Animal Husbandry, Vocational Skills, Evolution of Life, etc. These classes will be offered for a few weeks - one class per day on a voluntary basis. The local teachers will be trained by the TNSF team. Some of these classes will also be on local skills available - carpentry, fishing, art, drama, music, Bicycle clinic, etc. The idea is to create an environment where people can offer courses on what they know and others can learn. This will set into motion a continuously learning society.

Also organize events and special courses like Science in the Kitchen - experiments you can eat, Mantirama-Thanthirama (Magic Show), Children's Science Festivals, Metric Mela, Telescope Viewing, Village Sports day, etc. This is driven by the idea that the school can potentially be converted into a learning centre for the entire community.
1. Increasing the Utilization of the School which today works for 30-40 hrs a week to at least 50-70 hrs a week.
2. Community Mobilization, Support and Action for Education - both for children and adults.
3. To turn the school into a learning centre for the entire village and use this to demonstrate the effectiveness of community involvement of education.

4. To reduce the number of drop-outs. Currently, this information is based on the school teacher's input and how the child fares in exams -but as the programme develops a better index may be developed.
5. Support Classes for slow learners: Support classes (free private tuitions) are held outside school for slow learners so that they do not dropout later.
6. To start science clubs and have weekly activity and discussion sessions with the children in order to install a sense of curiosity and quest for knowledge in them.
The Tamilnadu Science Forum (TNSF) is a voluntary organization which has been involved in the area of education right from its inception in 1980. In the early days the focus was on improving the quality of science education. Over time, through various literacy campaigns, TNSF has been involved in large scale mobilization for adult literacy. TNSF have brought out a large amount of materials for neo-literates which are being used across the state. They have also diversified into health education, legal literacy and education for Self Help Groups. Another important educational intervention has been the development of modules for work based education in such fields as animal husbandry, hand pump repair, silk rearing, agriculture.

They run a monthly science magazine for children in Tamil (Thulir) and a bi-monthly magazine in English (Jantar Mantar). TNSF are also nvolved in teacher training and children's science clubs (Thulir Illams). In the early 90's, a large campaign called the Joy of Learning (JoL) Campaign was initiated. This focused on the need to make schools child-friendly and on the use of games and activities in the teaching/learning process. This state wide campaign was very successful and put pressure on the government to take action accordingly. Finally when the DPEP programme of the government was taken up, JoL was an important part of the programme and the tools/materials developed by the TNSF for its campaigns were brought into use in the schools. The JoL campaign was launched after a study in 1991 by TNSF which highlighted the following:
- In villages where there are no organized avenues of child labour, most of
the drop-outs at primary level occur due to a combination of children's
disinterest in school, their academic failure and lack of parental
- If dropped-out children are not put back into school within a very short
span of time, it becomes progressively more difficult to do so.
- An environment where most parents send their children to
school encourages those that don’t to follow suit.
- In many cases children are required to assist their families in generating economic activity even if for a few hours during the day. In the current scenario, such absenteeism is not allowed.
In addition to JoL, a programme to monitor drop-outs and enrol them back into school was developed and tried out in a few blocks which good success. In child labour intensive areas like Sivakasi and Kancchipuram, TNSF has been running Non-Formal Education Centers for working children. In Latheri, TNSF has also been running a model school which entirely uses activity based learning. Apart from training teachers on activity based learning, TNSF has also formed teacher networks in various districts that meet regularly and discusses issues in education and curriculum. A magazine for teachers (Vizhuthu) was also brought out for them.
This project is being implemented in multiple districts in Tamil Nadu including Vellore, Cuddalore, Nagapattinam, Chennai, Tanjore, Virudunagar, Villupuram etc