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Ten Years Later...

By Rajni Chandarsekhar, Septmber 10, 2006 - Udupi


Ten years after starting the Chandrapal Project in Kadiyali Higher Primary School, has English education really helped the young students of this Kannada-medium school?

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In short, the answer is, yes. After spending just one day in Kadiyali Higher Primary School, one can gather quite a bit about the benefits of English lessons to students who are taught in their mother tongue, Kannada. As a Government-aided Kannada-medium school, Kadiyali is directly competitive with the growing number of English-medium schools in the surrounding area. A private, English-medium education from the primary school age is very attractive to parents of all socio-economic backgrounds, although it is only affordable to some. The principal of Kadiyali School, Sadanand Sharma believes that parents who may not be well-educated still desire an English-medium education for their children. The Karnataka government requires Kadiyali to remain a Kannada-medium school. How- ever, unlike other Kannada-medium schools across that state that offer English education starting from V Standard on- wards, the Chandrapal Project has made it possible for students at Kadiyali School to begin their English education from First Standard. Education with an English program is free at Kadiyali school, with only a minimal fee of 100 Rs/ year for government fees. With other Kannada-medium schools closing due to the influx of private English- medium schools, Kadiyali has actually seen an increase in enrollment over the last ten years. Just in the past year, there have been an additional fifteen students en- rolled in Kadiyali School. Mr. Sharma says that parents come to the school and ask specifically about the offered English education before enrolling their child, all a prod- uct of the work of the Chandrapal Project. This is clearly a desirable set-up for parents that value an English edu- cation, but who may not be able to afford it at the private level.

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Success in Udupi

According to Govind Varamballi, a retired teacher from Kadiyali High School, the culture of Udupi as a town has been one of the primary reasons why Kadiyali School has been so successful with an English Education Program. Even though poverty levels are increasing and employment opportunities are decreasing, parents demand that their children not continue traditional jobs, like fishing, that reap little profit. With most children from Kadiyali School coming from low-income families that do not have English-literate parents, the format of the Kannada-medium education along with the work of the Chandrapal Project has proven beneficial on many levels. According to Mr. Sharma, and the English teacher, Ms. Sunanda, prior to the start of the Chandrapal Project, graduating students had little confidence to join English-medium schools after completing their primary education. Kadiyali has sent seven students educated by Ms. Sunanda to a selective English-medium high school. One English professor residing in Udupi, H. Upadhya, wrote to Kadiyali School stating that his son scored 94% on his English VII Std. exams purely because of the help of Ms. Sunanda. He commented, “While rural area English-medium schools have high fees that we cannot pay, Kadiyali has low fees and a higher quality of education.”

The English Education

What do these children learn, and how do they learn it? With the help of the Chandrapal Project, students at Kadiyali School start English education from I Standard, beginning with 45 minutes per day, six days a week.

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I-II Standards

With the help of flashcards, books, games, and action songs, students begin to learn the English alphabet along with basic words. I Std. students begin learning and reading simple words. By II Std., students can read and construct simple sen- tences describing themselves. They are also familiar with basic forms of com- munication, such as introductions. Lessons are conducted in both English and Kannada, as students are still becoming familiar with the new language.

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III-IV Standard

Students in III and IV Std. can identify more difficult words. Students know the days, date, and greetings. The lessons are conducted fully in English. Children enjoy using rhymes and action songs to identify body parts or animals. Students also can answer questions in English. All students are encouraged to use flash- cards to focus on spelling and pronunciation. Students are also mature enough to do copy-writing and dictations in English. They are well-rehearsed in introduc- tions, although they sometimes need some prompting from the teacher. There is a good sense of discipline and order in the classroom, which greatly facilitates the fluidity of learning.

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V-VII Standard

In V Std., students can write on their own. They read small stories, write para- graphs of 4-5 sentences each, and speak English in the classroom. Students are still hesitant to use English outside of the classroom at this age. However, by VII Std., Kadiyali School students are confident in speaking English. They also write two-page compositions and ask questions.

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