Rama and Padmanabha Rao are providing a viable and attractive solution to multigrade and multi-level learning common in rural areas of India. By bringing together parents, teachers, and children, they have developed a system for creating an effective learning environment supplemented with versatile educational materials.
The Raos have developed a comprehensive curriculum that is appropriate for children at all grade levels. The curriculum centers around educational materials designed to engage children and is customized to language and context. The ‘School in a Box’ that contains activity based learning materials, ‘learning ladder’, ‘study cards’, ‘work cards’ and teacher manuals not only gives children the freedom to learn at their own pace but also incorporates material that is pertinent to their everyday lives. The ingenuity of the Raos' design of this educational kit is that children from different grades (one to five) and different learning speeds can use the same materials. These methodologies have not only proven to promote self-learning (making the teacher more an enabler) but also brought about 25-29% increase in achievement and reduced low performance by 30-40%. To build the larger ecosystem, the Raos re-engage teachers in their responsibility as educators by providing immersive, customized and extended training. All these methods slowly are shifting the educational goals in these schools to what is learnt as against what is taught.
In addition to the 12 satellite schools directly run by RIVER, RIVER has introduced these methods in around 2,00,000 schools in 15 different languages. Over 500,000 teachers have been trained to use this methodology and 12.8 million children have benefited directly from RIVER programs. Several renowned Universities across Germany, US, France, South Africa have initiated long-term collaborative projects with RIVER. Currently, RIVER has been approached to partner OLE, Massachusetts, USA in their e-learning educational initiatives in several parts of the world. Padmanabha and Rama Rao are now focused on leveraging technology to develop effective structures and processes to transfer methodologies to educational agencies and create feedback loops.
Note: This was updated in November, 2013. Read on for the ELECTION profile