Education is a path to building equal opportunities. Marching ahead on the road to equitable and quality education, Biocon Foundation has taken great strides in achieving creativity and innovation to ensure that the learning experience for underprivileged children is effective and enriching. The Foundation has been providing academic support to the government by way of curriculum development, pedagogy and has created self-directed learning materials to elevate the standard of education. The Foundation has rooted its programs in government schools to provide amenities which are otherwise restricted to private schools.
Chinnara Ganitha is a workbook series for students in Grade 1 to 7. The learning materials developed in-house, comprise visually stimulating and creative worksheets in Kannada. It encourages joy in learning mathematical concepts and builds self-confidence in young learners to overcome mathematical anxiety. It inspires ingenuity and critical thinking skills in the neophytes. The workbooks were designed to be interactive, self-directed and therefore require minimal facilitation from teachers or parents. These workbooks touched the lives of more than half a million students in over one thousand government schools from the outset.
The success of Chinnara Ganitha inspired a shared vision with the Government to give status to the workbook-based learning in the curriculum to invigorate children’s interest in studies. Biocon Foundation is contributing to the richness of teaching and learning materials and resources in fellowship with Department of State Educational Research and Training (DSERT), Government of Karnataka. In a significant first step, the Foundation gave a leg up in the advent of numeracy and language workbooks. The compendiums of Mathematics (Suvega), Kannada (Sumeru) and English (Rainbow) are available to the learners in Grade 4 to 9 in tens of thousands of government schools in Karnataka. Furthermore, the Foundation is also working on the pedagogy and integrating age-appropriate health education as part of biology textbooks in high schools.
The access to education for children living in Thithimathi, Kodagu in Karnataka, is marred with difficult terrain, poor connectivity and extreme and unpredictable weather events. Aata Paata Wadi, an after-school resource centre located in the area, for the underprivileged children to access various avenues of learning. The enrichment program of the centre attends to complementing formal education by equipping pupils with physical, social and academic skills beyond the boundary of classrooms. The centre catapults young minds into a new future by extending the opportunity to learn spoken English and acquire digital literacy to interact with the outside world. Functioning in the Ashrama School run by the state’s Social Welfare department, the program reaches students from Classes 1 to 7.
Access to safe and adequate water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) is a basic prerequisite for maintaining health and education in schools. Empirical evidence suggests that improving upon WASH facility in schools prevents diseases, boosts attendance and curbs dropout rates. To address the inadequacies of safe drinking water and basic sanitation facilities, Biocon Foundation has taken significant measures to establish WASH infrastructure in government schools. In addition to providing a sanitary and hygienic learning environment, the Foundation has strived to fulfil the unmet needs of basic school infrastructure by way of classrooms, girls’ hostel, digital laboratories, furniture and fixtures.
To solve the personal vulnerability of adolescent girls to health risks in the crucial period characterized by physical, psychological and social changes in the age group above 10 years, Biocon Foundation has embarked on a health education initiative in government high schools. The joint initiatives with Government of Karnataka, Federation of Obstetric and Gynaecological Society of India (FOGSI) and St. John’s Medical College and Hospital (SJMCH) provide knowledge, skills and attitude in matters related to nutrition, sexual and reproductive health, menstrual hygiene and prevention of sexual harassment. A comic book called Menstrupedia further reiterates these messages in a story based format adapted from real-life experiences in the local vernacular language.
Kelsa+ was an Information technology (IT) literacy program for lower income support staff of factories. The primary objective of this initiative was to enable the casual and contract labour in the factory set-up to access information technology tools, allowing them to learn and use computers and internet at their own pace and for their own needs. The move resulted in considerable participation and learning of basic computer, internet and email skills.