Sparkles through the prism of learning - CherYsh-KDDC Learning Centres

In 2011, CherYsh set up Shikshana Vikas Kendras (after-school learning centers) in 8 villages in Haliyal taluka of Uttara Kannada district, in partnership with the Karwar Diocesan Development Council (KDDC). The SVKs are managed by teachers recruited locally. The objective is to promote holistic development among school going children in the villages, with focus on English language learning and computer skills. Teachers use resources and content developed by The Akshara Foundation to deliver their lessons. Teaching a foreign language is no mean task and learning it is no mean achievement – especially in the rural Indian context where exposure and opportunities to use the language are minimal to virtually non-existent.

Today, 468 children in 11 villages attend the after-school program. The SVKs are a big draw in the area. Before the SVKs were established, children would wander the streets after school. The parents were not able to teach the children or support their academic or extra-curricular ambitions in any way. They barely managed to keep track of the children's whereabouts. Things are very different now: 108 children scored A grade in their annual exams – these children attend the SVKs regularly. They've surprised themselves and stunned their parents with these results. 61 children know to speak, read and write in English and the others are catching up.

The kids are excited about the basic computer literacy programme run at the SVKs. They have seen the computer locked away in their schools, and now find the joys of using a computer fruitfully learning in the process. Today, 211 children from 6 villages have basic computer skills and are eager to learn more.

The SVKs are designed to provide a holistic learning experience for children. Equal emphasis is placed on sport and talent development as on academics. At the SVKs, children are excited to play ball games and other team sports such as football, kabbadi, and cricket. They also participate enthusiastically in all talent shows; 156 children have identifiable talent in drawing, singing, dancing, craft, sports and quiz and have won prizes in all these categories at SVK level, cluster level, and zonal level competitions.

Parents approach CherYsh and KDDC regularly asking for 'tuition class' (as they refer to the SVKs) to be set up in their villages as well. That's because they see what the SVKs have done for their children: taken them off the streets, given them a platform to participate in sports and develop their talents, taught them the importance of discipline and hygiene and helped them to improve and even excel at their academics. The SVKs have given the children in the villages of Haliyal the one thing that every child deserves: opportunity.