Educational Video CDs from AID-India and Tamil Nadu Science Forum

Project Brief: To prepare educational and science videos that can be used in schools, by NGOs and by Science Movement activists in villages using existing TVs and a VCD player (rented@Rs.50/day) or computers. Local cable operators also help spread awareness.
Project Type: Educational Experiments (description)
Primary Focus: creating resources (description)

Secondary Focus: remedial education

Area: Rural
Supporting Chapter Contact: NYC/NJ
Status: completed - requirements ended
Project Steward: Sudarshan Setlur
Project Partner(s):
Other Contacts:
Project Address: , Tamil Nadu Science Forum 130/3,,Avvai Shanmugam Salai, Gopalapuram,,
TAMIL NADU  600086
Tel: (011)-(91)-44-28113630
Stewarding Chapter: NYC/NJ
Mar 2003NYC/NJUSD 2000
Dec 2002NYC/NJUSD 2000

Total = $4000

Over the years the TNSF has built a teachers network of over 600 teachers and have resource people who can train teachers in their area of expertise. These areas include (but are not limited to) problems with math teaching in primary schools, low cost science experiments, health education. Since the core group has limited time they are unable to reach out to enough villages without diluting the content. The VCDs were thought of a way to boost field programs and used as supplementation in the training program.

They can be used in group viewing, no only in teacher training programs but also by teachers in schools to enhance their teaching in class. The idea is not to replace the teacher or trainer.

The videos on specific classes eg Physics for VIII: It is not attempted to cover the entire book and put it on a video. From earlier experience and available material it is clear that this tends to overburden the students who already have to read the text. Instead, experimentation based techiniques are shown which clarify and get the children to ask questions about their understanding of the topics. The topics covered are chosen from experience from the "hot spots" that children in the past have encountered.

Please refer to the proposal for details on the VCDs that TNSF has resources to make at this point.

The program will be used in the 8 districts that TNSF has worked with in the past as well as the 100 blocks that the TNSF is extending a variety of programs to.

Two videos VCDs have already been made, one is the "Powers of 10 the atom to the universe". This is a 15 min video that introduces the children to scales of 10, starting with a leaf progressively zooms out by a scale of 10 times till it shows the entire universe. It then zooms in by a power of 10 each time till it reaches the atom. This video was demonstrated at a teachers meeting at Madurai and the VCDs were lapped up right there. I have shown this video to children at schools near Chennai and the response has been phenomenal.

The other video is "Childhood from birth to four". This explains the different sections of a children childhood. This was meant to be viewed by adolescent girls and women. The video gives an understanding of the requirements of mothers and children with special emphasis on addressing popular beliefs that cause a children to be malnourished in villages.

The video camera has been provided by AID (Associaltion of Indian Development) and the primary costs of making the videos is in editing and conversion to digital format. The editing is done in both the video stage and in the digital stage with video clipings, and animation are added to make the video more interesting to watch.

Once the first VCD is cut, it is distributed at the price of cutting a CD. (only around Rs.60, which is very affordable for a community) The difference in availability of VCDs with other educational materials lies in the fact that TNSF is non-profit organization and is not trying to make money of these VCDs and that the costs of building of the video are taken care of by Asha.
The Tamil Nadu Science Forum is a people's movement that has been mobilizing and empowering the underprivileged to help themselves since the 1980. The Science movements, like many others movements tries to change the way the society thinks, in this case by giving a critical understanding of the science.

The society decides what kind of science is done, this is especially true of today when science is no longer a personal pursuit, but is in large part a social effort, directed and funded by governments eg. the decision that research in nuclear energy should be funded over research in solar energy or large dams should be built over smaller local water harvesting techinques.
The first agenda of the science movement has been to inform the common people on what science is being done, how and why i.e. to analyze policies, educate people and mobilizing public opinion on issues.

The group was started by research scientists from IIT and IISC who soon realized that critiquing the science policy and mobilizing people was not enough! They had to develop solutions that could be used by the common man. They developed alternate models in literacy, education, health, enterprises and agriculture. Through these models, it was attempted to restructure science learning techiniques. These techiniques were successfully demonstrated
in a joy of learning school. This was followed by
training teachers to use innovative teaching methods, training village women to use health information, training farmers to use science to improve soil. In short putting into practice the promise of science - improving living
conditions of people.

The science movement also works towards the construction of a rational society by explaning natural phenomenon using science and countering irrational beliefs and superstitions.

From 1989-1995 TNSF developed a mass literacy campaign in 8 districts, which reached out to 2000 villages, mobilized 20,000 teachers and 200,000 learners. Most of the lerners were women and with literacy came awareness and women participated in large numbers in anti-arrack(local liquor) agitations, learn bicycle campaigns, employment program and credit networks. The local vested interests (arrack shops, quarry contractors) and even the govt felt threatned. This led to the souring of the TNSF-Govt partnership and TNSF pulled out of the campaign.

The movements that had started however, continued. Each of the districts tried their own experiments on social development. Some of the more important ones were
self-reliant saving schemes for women(Kanyakumari, Virudunagar), health training programs(Ramnad) - training volunteers to provide individual advice on children and
women's needs, enterprises for women(Madurai), quarry contracts for women groups(Pudukottai), working on school-drop outs(Villupuram and Cuddalore), activity based school(Vellore), support shelter for women victims of violence(Ramnad). A lot of experiments were conducted in these areas, some worked, some failed. Just as life evolves, ideas that worked started spreading.

The focus of TNSF is now to integrate and expand ideas that have worked. In education these are innovative teaching methods, libraries for women and rural IT centers. These ideas are being nurtured and spread to new blocks. These programs
reach out and save thousands of children from malnutrition, dropping out of school, while helping lacs of women with credit and enterprise and health skills and helps farmers improve the soil and their yield.

The strength of TNSF lies in it's ability to campaign on larger issues while at the same time demostrating how these ideas actually improve the lives of the poor, in their volunteers who take time out helping in schools, visiting villages, organizing programs, training and raising funds.

For more information on the TNSF please read the introduction document of

The VCD proposal is one of the new initiatives of a small but concrete resource that Asha can work on and own. We can not only contribute to the development of VCDs, but in time, be part of the creation of these VCDs.