Report on Project Poorna Vidya

February 20, 2004
Contact Lakshmi Suryanarayanan

Poorna Vidya is a joint initiative of Pitts Macdonald Lodge and Asha Chennai
to help improve the quality of learning in the Corporation School near the Ashtalakshmi temple in Besant Nagar, Chennai.

Background to how the proposal came up-

In December 2003, Sri Vijayakumar a member of the PittsMacdonald Lodge, approached us at Asha Chennai with the proposal that we work with them to improve the quality of education at a school. Since august- September some of us Asha Volunteers Shanmuga, Rajaram, Lakshmi had been involved with the Chennai Citizen’s Forum (CCF) an informal group of people involved in assessing what intervention could improve the quality of the teaching –learning processes in corporation schools in Chennai. Ms P. Sarawathi, who has been a resource person for Asha Chennai teacher training initiative is also one of the members of the CCF, was also at this time looking for resources to help schools in Zone10 of the Chennai Corporation. So the dreams of all of us put together resulted in the choice of the school and starting the work there.

Ms. Saraswathi is the Chief Guide for the project. She and Lakshmi ( facilitator) drew up the proposal. Asha Chennai members formally approved of the proposal. Ms. Vijayakumar got the approval of the members of his Lodge, and all this happened in a short time of just two weeks.

Current Status

January 2004 saw the following things happen-

·        Satyapriya ( M. A. in Social Work) from Asha Chennai, and Thangadurai, a graduate in Tamil Literature and a person involved in drama and art, started to be in the school from 10am to 3.30pm (as interns learning and facilitating the change processes of improving quality) to facilitate the process of the use of material and conducting the reading and art and craft activities that were being newly initiated in the school. The teachers of the school were already exposed to the use of child friendly techniques but were not able to use them effectively for many reasons. Ms. Saraswathi P is guiding them closely- the facilitator interns Satyapriya and Thangadurai. Both Satyapriya and Thangadurai are on a stipend.

·        Purchase of library books and reading material in Tamil worth a little over Rs7000. ( Ms. Sarawathi took it personally to choose the books)

·        The eight teachers of the school and Thangadurai underwent a one-day training in use of Montessori material in Maths at the Montessori Training Centre run by Ms. Uma Shankar. (Ms. Saraswathi has planned to take Maths improvement as focus for the three months – Feb , March, April till the school closes for the summer. Summer months will see special classes for art, sports and other inputs for the children).

·        The materials required for the pre-assessment of the student levels in Maths and Tamil reading were prepared by teachers of  a progressive neighbourhood school for children of similar background and required expert guidance. (The sheets are designed so that level of reading skills, concept formation in Maths, colour and shape concepts and some thinking skills could be assessed.)


February 2004 till date-

·        Montessori and other teaching learning materials worth over Rs 15000, storage cupboards, colours have been purchased with great care and arranged in school.

·        Worksheets for drawing and colouring are being regularly used. Reading to children and by the children is part of the daily routine. The intern- facilitators have settled down to a tight routine and started enjoying their work as well.

·        Assessment work has started with Stds 3, 2,1 in that order. Std 4,5 are being exposed today. The teachers who have designed the sheets are also helping the children and the facilitator interns and the teachers with support in administering these tests. The preliminary report is children of all classes are enjoying working on the sheets. Class 3 students’ readiness for the assessment was good. Reading skills were fairly well developed. Attendance in class was high. Even children who had gone home in the middle of the morning session came back in the afternoon and participated with enthusiasm. A very bright and extremely quick child has been spotted in the group. Children responded quickly and showed ability for independent work.

Classes 1 and 2 showed great interest but children just tend to copy from a group leader or from the board. Reading skills are not adequately developed. Class attendance was about 50 to 60% of the number on roll on the day of assessment. Today the test administrators will see if more of the children of Class 1 and 2 are in school and have them participate. Formal reports are to be prepared.

·        The interns were paid their stipends for their 15 days in January. For effective communication between the guides and the interns a mobile phone with a prepaid card (low end scheme) has been provided.


Planned Activities in March 2004

Provide water source in the school’s kitchen directly to help the kitchen staff.
Increase the toilet facility in the ground floor.
Complete and formalise the pre- project student assessment report.
We hope that the tempo of work will sustain and the quality improvement will begin to show soon.

Lakshmi Suryanarayanan



Project estimate for year Jan 2004 to Dec 2004= Rs 3lakhs
Received from Pitt Macdonald Lodge till 20-02-04= Rs 90,001

Expenses as on 20/ 2/04.

Month of expense

Expense Head

Amount in Rs

Remarks if any



Jan 2004

Learning materials



Teacher Training


At the Montessori center, RA Puram



For making purchases

Evaluation materials







Month of expense

Expense Head

Amount in Rs

Remarks if any



Feb 2004

Learning materials





Cycle repair- Satya’s tranport from school to Asha Home

Shelves for storing learning materials



Conveyance for conducting evaluation


For teachers from Olcott school who conducted the exams

Honorariums to Satyapriya & Thangadurai (for 15 days in Jan04)


 Rs1500+ Rs 1000 resply

Telephone ( Mobile) purchase


Instrument Nokia and connection artel

Tel. expenses


For the prepaid card and expenses so far for telephones



Balance on hand as on 20/02/03=

Rs 27,678