Akshara Foundation

Ganitha Kalika Andolana (GKA)

Lead Organization

Akshara Foundation

Bangalore, State of Karnataka, India


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Project Summary

Repeated studies have shown that children in primary grades in Government-run schools lack fundamental math skills - performing at levels significantly below their age and grade norms. The demographics of India means that these are the poorest children without the finances to access fee paying schools.Ganitha Kalika Andolana (GKA) has been designed from the ground up to help these educationally underserved children learn foundational math.GKA began with a pilot that reached out to about 48,000 children studying grades 1 to 5 in 574 schools in the state of Karnataka, India. After three years of evaluation the unambiguous success of the programme resulted in it being extended to over 12,000 government schools in Karnataka. Seeing the efficacy of the programme, other states in the country - Odisha and Andhra Pradesh - replicated it in another 6,200 schools.The total number of children it has benefitted has crossed 1.2 million.

Problem Statement

There is a fundamental social and cultural problem across India. Lack of literacy is felt to be shameful and a sign of backwardness. Lack of numeracy - though numeracy is as important as literacy - is not. As a consequence, improving literacy has seen substantial investment, but very little has gone behind improving numeracy.There are huge economic benefits in inculcating early numeracy. Many studies show that a modest increase in numeracy scores corresponds with almost 20% higher wages; other studies show that an improvement of one-half standard deviation in mathematics and science performance at the individual level can increase GDP per capita by 0.87%[#1]. This is all the more important in countries like India where studies show that less than 25% of children in elementary schools[#2] (grades1-5) can do grade appropriate math – this translates to over 100 million children unable to be ready to progress effectively to secondary school and beyond!Besides economic arguments, there is a more basic social issue. Not inculcating math skills early will increase inequality. And inequity, which leads to poor innumerate families falling prey to financial manipulation.We need to raise the numeracy expectations of every stakeholder - parents, teachers, the State, employers and, most of all, children by creating structures conducive to a math learning movement. A critical need, given the posited 100-year gap[#3] between schooling opportunities and outcomes for young people in the developed and developing world.

Solution Overview

Before we constructed Ganitha Kalika Andolana, we asked ourselves five questions. Is our solution:•Socially desirable?•Politically acceptable?•Technically feasible?•Financially viable?•Administratively doable?When we went about implementing GKA, we ensured the following:•Government’s involvement and buy-in, because state machinery delivers the programme•Teachers were given well-designed tools to help in the teaching process and make them more productive in the classroom•Capacity building for teachers and state educators/resource persons•For Resource persons at various administrative levels we developed monitoring support tools using mobile phone apps (developed in-house) which allow them to know regularly where the deficits are and focus on improving them•There is a strong community engagement programme called Gram Panchayat Math Contest, which has forced parents to ask questions and eventually work closely with the school teachers so that children benefit from it•Information flows are accurate and timely so that necessary corrective actions can be taken at the right time•An Android-based app running on entry-level smartphones supplements classroom instruction with a set of well-designed ‘gamelets’ mapped to the curriculum.This comprehensive, holistic - and critically, scalable and sustainable - model works seamlessly in practice. Over five years, we expect to impact over 20 million children in grades 1-5 across 8 states in India. We expect that more than 70% of the children will be fluent in grade-appropriate math by the end of the grant period from the current average of 20-24%.

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Project Funders

  • Omidyar Network Fund Inc. 2011 - 2018

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