Discovering the joy of Maths

Discovering the joy of Maths

Discovering the joy of Maths

Ganitha Kalika Andolana, a collaborative initiative of the State Government and Akshara Foundation, makes Mathematics fun and interactive for students, learns A Varsha Rao

Big numbers, complex equations, confusing formulas and lengthy theorems make Mathematics the villain in many students’ lives. While many get scared by the numbers, others find the subject too mechanical and boring.

It’s of no surprise that the recent All India Status of Education Report (ASER) 2014 (rural) revealed the fact that the figures for basic arithmetic have remained virtually unchanged over the last few years. In 2012, 26.3 per cent of third standard students could do a two digit subtraction.

This number is at 25.3 per cent in 2014. For fifth standard children, the ability to do division has increased slightly from 24.8 per cent in 2012 to 26.1 per cent in 2014. In Karnataka, only 20.1 per cent of fifth standard students in government schools can do simple division.

These are just a few simple statistics. The real problems run deeper into the fragments of the society. It was such figures that led to the one-of-its-kind public-private partnership (PPP) between the State Government and Akshara Foundation, a non-profit. Called the Ganitha Kalika Andolana (GKA), the unique programme was designed to improve the numeracy skills and facilitate classroom teaching of Mathematics among students in government primary schools.

For the implementation, they chose the government schools in Hyderabad-Karnataka (six districts of Kalaburagi, Yadgir, Ballari, Koppal, Bidar and Raichur) region.  Ashok Kamath, chairman, Akshara Foundation says, “The education survey conducted by ASER in the year 2014 showed that the education indicators for Kalaburagi division, comprising these six districts, were low when compared with other divisions of Karnataka.”

Statistics substantiate his statement. The percentage of school dropouts in the age of six to 14 is 3.02 per cent in the Kalaburagi division, while the State average is 1.71 per cent. Math learning indicators also indicate the same. Only 29.72 per cent of children from Kalaburagi division from standard III to V can do subtraction. The State average for above mentioned math score was 39.89 per cent and other divisions had faired well. Hence the programme focused on this part of the State.

Fun and engaging

Basically, the organisation is making an effort to make Math fun for the young ones through attractive, well-researched teaching and learning materials (TLMs), videos and teacher manuals in Kannada, Urdu and English. “Designed with flair and care, these can tempt even an adult maths-phobe to give Math a shot,” says Ashok.

In fact, Grammy Award winning musician Ricky Kej has also composed a catchy Math anthem in Kannada and English for the Math movement. Brightly coloured counters, beads, dices, clocks, plastic currency, miniature weighing scale, exciting videos and much more — all these tools have given a new dimension to math learning and made it interactive, fun and exciting.

The movement first picks out teachers who teach fourth and fifth standards and provides training over a period of two days through a GKA math kit, after which, the teachers start implementing the same in their classes. The movement statistics say that around 8,500 teachers and resource persons of the State have been trained in Math teaching methodology.

Ranganath, district manager (Raichur and Yadgir), who works with the kids in schools gives his opinion on the programme, “One of the reasons for children to fear Math is the way in which it is taught. It can be often observed that abstract concepts of  the subject are taught on the board, whereas GKA uses a lot of child-friendly concrete materials and classroom processes, which make it fun and effective. Emphasis is given to conceptual learning rather than rote learning.”

Versatile teaching kits

The Math kit contains versatile, durable and child-friendly TLMs. Each TLM can be used for teaching multiple concepts and each concept can be taught through multiple teaching aids provided in the kit. Thus, each concept gets reinforced through a range of visual and tactile experiences. “Apart from this, the programme also utilises Math concept cards that have a story and an activity based on the child’s knowledge. This activity helps students build their Maths vocabulary,” says Sidram Tote, district manager (Bidar).

But why so much stress on Mathematics? Ashok says, “Math pervades all aspects of our life and plays a vital role in today’s knowledge-based society. Math is important for developing logical reasoning and problem solving skills. It becomes even more important as it is a compulsory subject until the tenth standard in formal schooling.”

Impacting over three lakh children across 7,520 government schools in the State, GKA’s future plans are all about sustaining the programme. They are working at the grassroots level and trying to bring in important stakeholders like the community, self-help groups, School Development Monitoring Committee (SDMC), local administration etc to improve the learning outcomes.

They aim to expand the programme and reach other regions of the State. Here’s more power to such kid-friendly programmes! To know more about the programme, visit