NASHUA, NH– Asha for Education, a non-profit organization popularly known as Asha, and its two project partners, have received a $100,000 grant from Oracle to expand on three innovative initiatives to improve science and math education in government schools in India.

melli-asha“Over 70% of India’s children go to government schools, but the quality is extremely poor. There is an urgent need to reform the government school system. Oracle’s grant comes at a critical juncture, enabling Asha and project partners to scale innovative methods that can permanently improve education quality in government schools,” said Melli Annamalai, a former world-wide president of Asha who played a key role in getting the Oracle grant.

Annamalai, who works  for Oracle in Nashua, NH, said that with this grant Oracle is investing in improvement of science and math education in government schools in India. The grant supports the scaling up of successful innovations in reforming government schools, particularly in learning science.

“Oracle wants to serve disadvantaged children, and achieve equity in education, particularly focusing on STEM and Computer Science related programs,” said Annamalai. “To achieve this, Oracle wanted to forge national-level partnerships with good and effective organizations in India.”

A central aspect of Asha’s initiative is to create processes to mentally and culturally break the use of memorization as a ‘learning’ tool.

“A key aspect of our work is enabling and empowering teachers in government schools. Typical schemes tend to be top-down, focused on just providing material. In our work teachers are equal participants at every step, and we help them feel they can be successful and help them be successful, breaking through the apathy that envelopes them,” said Annamalai. “Education administrators are also closely involved, and they have begun to voluntarily ask for our help in other blocks and taluks. This type of systemic change can be permanent.”

Asha is working in three regions to make such changes.

In H.D. Kote taluk, the project expands to include all higher primary schools in a majority of clusters in the taluk (a unit within a district), covering a total of 91 higher primary and high schools, reaching 18000 children.

In Chamarajanagar, the project expands to all higher primary schools in four blocks in the district, directly engaging with 160 teachers and aiming for a ripple effect to reach 900+ teachers, helping thousands of children. The project also plans to build a Science park for students from surrounding villages to visit and expects 5000-6000 children to visit each year.

In Thiruvallur district in Tamil Nadu, the project brings in technology to create models that will scale. Each project implementation is tailored to the needs of the local schools and communities. We hope to create a blue print for effective improvement of government schools.