Tamil Nadu Science Forum(TNSF)

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Context

Tamil Nadu Science Forum (TNSF) is a people's movement (a registered society) committed to science popularization and education.

TNSF has been active in education for a long time, principally working on enrollment, bringing dropouts back to school and community support centers outside school for children declared to be “slow learners” by the school. It has a teachers’ network of nearly 1000 teachers (principally teachers in government schools, elementary stage).

Socio-Economic Profile

All activity centers(Chittukkal Maiyangal) were in rural areas, with children of agricultural labourers. The Tiruvallur programme was exclusively for Dalit children.

Strategies

In June 2020, TNSF organized a “reach children” programme by which each teacher reached her/his students personally / telephonically once every week. This was principally to make contact and not to teach. “10 phone calls a day” was the formula.

In June-July, when the noon meal programme was halted, TNSF took up an extensive public outreach effort to raise the issue of with the government and sensitising the public, including imploding PILs in Madras high court (Madurai bench).

Similarly, TNSF monitored supply of textbooks and other educational material to all children.

TNSF started “chittukkal maiyams” or local “activity centres” where a volunteer would work with 5 or 6 children at a time. There was no set curriculum, but the broad curriculum was set by TNSF’s existing publications in elementary education, using stories, songs and games oriented towards language learning, number sense, science activities

Numbers Impacted

10 to 12 Chittukkal Maiyangal (Activity centres for children) in each of Madurai, Theni, Vellore and Tiruvallur districts, each having 4 or 5 volunteers each individually working with 8 to 10 children. Nearly 600 such centres started all over the state in July 2020 but most petered out within a month, but 70 sustained for several months

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