ILP Relay – A Tale of Passion and Endurance

Starting January for the past 20 years or so, troops of people block out their Saturday mornings for runs and walks. One would think they are just like many others who made New Year resolutions to exercise regularly and often

ILP’s Journey

It was the year 1989 and we had an impressive visitor from India. The handout for his talk, spoke about the need for action. The speaker was none other than Dr. Parameshwara Rao. Dr. Rao had a simple yet powerful message. He said – if we don’t do anything, by year 2000, every second illiterate in the world will be an Indian! This stirred up a bunch of us and we felt something needed to be done. This led to the formation of ILP in 1990, registered as a non-profit in Chicago, United States. As a first step, we decided to support Dr. Rao’s own organization BCT. Supporting BCT, gave ILP the right background and experience to support many literacy and education projects across India.

The India I had never seen

Most of my earlier trips to India were to the biggest cities – Bangalore, Delhi etc. They were full of crowds, dust and traffic. It was my normal image of India: a poor, dirty, crowded, and very competitive place. A place where dogs and other animals roamed the streets starving, begging for food and where people sat in slums with rags on them. At least that’s what I first thought. This was my first journey into India’s villages and until now I had only seen photos and videos of what it was like. This time I was the one taking the pictures and videos as I experienced it myself, and I loved all of it!

My experiences at the Summer Camp

On the first day, we came and we needed to set up many things such as the computer, projector etc. After setting these up, batch-by-batch the children started coming, so we needed to set them in straight lines and make them sit in a row. We anticipated that there will be more Tamil than Oriya students, and we will be able to communicate easily. But, out of a 100 students, only 7 were Tamil, the rest 93 were Oriya or Hindi! This was a problem as we couldn’t communicate easily, but Bitika Aunty, talked to each of the children in Oriya and asked their names. For the first session of the morning we had nursery rhymes for all of the children. For example; Roly Poly, Skeleton Dance.

Schools as Multi-Dimensional Learning Space – Need

While the need to improve quality of education at Government Schools seems intuitive, I still think it would be good to see some numbers to make the point. Intuition can sometimes be inaccurate and looking at the right statistics and figures numbers are important to ascertain intuitions. As you read this, you will come to realize (if you haven’t already), the magnitude of the problem and the underlying issues that I feel are the core reasons why on quality of education is important.

Schools as Multi-Dimensional Learning Space – Genesis

I am pretty excited to start this series of blogs on one of the most interesting projects of my life. This is a project that focusses on improving quality of learning in Government schools especially in rural India. The goal of this project is to create a model that is replicable, holistic, low cost and easy to implement. Through these articles, I will articulate what we attempted to do, our collective learning and my own experiences. While the blogs are being written by me, I am documenting our collective learnings as a team. The success of the project is because of the team working behind it and not one person. Personally, its been a enriching experience to work along with such a dedicated and passionate team.

Anything is possible

When we entered the class of 60, which consisted of 6th, 7th and 8th graders, we were a bundle of nerves. All of us were volunteering from ILP to help SSA and IRCDS conduct a summer camp for the children of brick kiln workers. The main aim of the camp was to motivate children from various age groups to continue schooling as well give them a reason on why education is so vital for all of us.