India's super long math pipeline
I was spellbound seeing 6-11 year old kids recite up to 15x multiplication tables using a sing-song Marathi melody in the hinterlands of rural India. Even while I wondered about the virtues of rote learning, I was comforted by this super long Math pipeline underway in the country.
The teacher Sapna Baraf (seen in the video) recently gave her 12th grade boards – she’s smart and confident of herself and her students who were eager to race past the more complicated 12x tables and complete 3-digit subtractions with ease. Math and social messages were mixed in local folk songs and dances. Mixing up children of all ages seemed beneficial – with elder kids helping the younger ones and younger ones making the elder ones more responsible – this principle is described wonderfully in Salman Khan’s One World Schoolhouse.
With over 50,000 single-teacher schools and 1.5 million students, Ekal Vidyalaya is one of the largest grass-root education movements in the world. Operations are managed in clusters of 30, 90 and 270 schools. A teacher such as Sapna would scale to managing 1 school to 270 in just a few years. The impact is powerful.
Ekal focuses on the 3Rs: reading, writing and arithmetic. And it works. Take a look:
Image: Classroom at Ekal Vidyalaya, Palgarh district, Maharashtra