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  project name ~ Thulir School

category ~ literacy and education




  Project Name


Thulir School



TNSF (Tamil Nadu Science Forum)



literacy and education



Latheri, Vellore



Tamil Nadu

  Budget Approved


$ 2000


  Year Approved







  Chapter Coordinators


Senthil Jayaseelan












Thulir School was started in 1997 by a bunch of TNSF volunteers in
Vellore District in Latheri Panchayat in K.V.Kuppam block. This school
aimed to put into practice the educational ideas that the TNSF had
acquired by interactions with various people and also by various
school level programmes and teacher training programmes that it had
organized. The idea was to try all these ideas out in a school and to
see how it works. From the beginning, the initiative for the school
was local. The "Education Experts" of the TNSF would come to offer
help with the curriculum, but all organizational issues were managed
by the local block team in K.V.Kuppam. They contacted people in the
area, collected money, got the land donated, constructed a building,
got interested teachers, contacted parents and convinced them about
the usefulness of this school and got them to admit their kids. There
were 13 people who put their money in (Rs.35,000) each and they became
the trustees. The entire building cost, land etc together came to 2
lakhs. The school became a reality in June 1997. It has been running
quite well since then. The school has a wonderfully free atmosphere
and the children clearly enjoy the school. The freedom that the school
offers is a happy change from what most other schools (even
progressive ones) offer. The children can leave the class when they
want, they have a board all around them (not just for the teachers)
and they can write on it as and when they like. They can go in, sit
down in another class, and attend it (thee are kids who do this
regularly). Children can watch the class from outside or just decide
to play. The teachers neither get angry not prevent them from doing
any of these. The school has a lot of toys with which the children
play and all learning is attempted through games. The school has
classes upto the 5th only. Every Saturday the teachers plan out the
next week classes and how it can be taught. The confidence of the
children is not broken and most children achieve high learning levels
(much better than what is achieved by most other schools and at the
same time do it enjoyably). The school does not believe in failing and
grading children and so does not conduct exams or give report cards.
To test the learning levels of the children, occasional written
quizzes are conducted - but without giving ranks. There is a pressure
to rank children from the parents side - the school has so far been
able to withstand it, because of the clear quality of education it is
able to provide.


The school has been running on local donations and from the fees that
the kids pay. Most children come from areas quite far from the school
because this mode of education is not something that parents have been
able to accept yet. Also, this school does not have recognition as a
government school. After most children pass the 5th standard, join the
formal education system, and do well there, maybe things will change.
The school had purchased an old van to take the children to and fro -
this van broke down and needs repair. But they spend the money on the
repair of the van, they will not be able t o pay the salaries of the
teachers. This is what they would like to request from AID for one

Type of Project

We do not yet see this as a major replicable effort. Even this school
is running with difficulty. We see this only as an experiment for us
to learn. To recognize the problems of running such schools. We would
also like to see this effort as a way to motivate other schools
(funded by the government) to change their own approach. This project
by itself will have no meaning in the larger scheme of things. But
along with our (TNSF<92>s) efforts in education reform at the state
level and policy changes, our efforts at re-writing text-books, at
forming teacher-networks and training them in using joy of learning
methods and our efforts at developing a host of books and learning
techniques which can be effectively used by teachers and children,
this school takes on a new meaning. This school becomes our testing
ground for such ideas. This school shows us how much success we can
really achieve by the methods we are promoting. It takes on the shape
of an action-research programme. We also hope that we will be able to
initiate more such schools - at least one in each district - in the
near future. These schools serve to motivate and train our volunteers
on these "new" and "innovative" ideas in education and equip them with
a practical knowledge of its usefulness. This strength we hope will
help us make more serious efforts in education. We would therefore
like to look at this project as an action-research project field
testing under special conditions our ideas on schools and education.
We do not yet see this as a model for replication. We do not expect it
to be completely self-sustaining, though a large part of the funds we
do expect will come from the local are a. Maybe along with other
activities like NFE centers, Savings groups for women, a computer
center, some enterprises, it can sustain without outside funds. We
have just started a computer center with the help of AID donated
computers (right now it has eaten more money in terms of setting up
costs than it is giving but we hope that will change in about a years










The programme plans to develop a model for teachers to follow for the primary school where everything can be taught through games and which can achieve measurable learning levels in the children. We should be able to do this model through people (the teachers) whose educational background should not be very special - using people who have studied upto the 12th would be ideal. (This will ensure conditions for replicability). The model school should function in a rural area and should try to reach a reasonable level of self-reliance. For the training of the teachers, the school will get help from various people - Ramanujam (and the ideas of Ekalavyaa), Hemavathi and other education experts. Help in the form of toys and games and new experiments will be also be solicited. But the key focus is to establish some of the basics for a model school of this type. If this model functions well, we expect that we can use this trained human-power to train others in a similar effort - that will be the test for replicability. We will prepare a report on the ideas developed and tested at the end of the year. One year or even 3 years is too short to speak about an effort like this with confidence. We hope to be able to do this at the end of about 5-6 years.



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