The launch of a nationwide literacy programme in eight cities has been announced by Pega Teach for Change (TFC), a nonprofit organisation that works with governments to improve literacy and life skills among primary school children from low-income communities. The organisation focuses on students in grades 3 to 5 in government schools. The programme will now be active across eight cities – Mumbai, New Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai, Lucknow, Hyderabad, Vijaywada and Vizag. Co-founders Lakshmi Manchu and Chaitanya MRSK along with actor Aditi Rao Hydari launched this literacy programme in January.

Thousands of citizens regularly contribute as volunteers to teach children in their neighbourhood government schools and the programme will operate on this same model. The organisation hopes to positively impact 150,000 children across 1,000 schools through this initiative. The organisation’s spokesperson informs CauseBecause that this number is based on the number of schools and classrooms they will be working with for the upcoming academic year.

The programme aims to bridge the gap in learning and quality education in government schools by providing linkages to volunteers. As per data provided by TFC, over 50 per cent of Grade 5 students cannot read text meant for Grade 2. These schools also suffer from lack of trained teachers, adequate resources, and exposure to age-appropriate books.

Two volunteers are allocated to a classroom for one academic year at a local government school where they teach for 2 to 3 hours in a week, totalling about 60 hours in one academic year. The focus is on literacy skills and English. The modules are developed by TFC after assessing the needs of the children. These classes are conducted during school hours through an MoU with state governments which allows volunteers to take classes. The team works with the school principal and teachers to customise a schedule for each volunteer and design the curriculum. Ownership from school teachers is extremely important, as per TFC.

To track progress of the students, the organisation conducts baseline, midterm and end-term tests. Children are categorised on the basis of letters, words, sentences and paragraphs, with storybooks appropriate to their level given to them. The goal is to move the children from one level to another. TFC has stated that they will be releasing a progress report very soon and from the current academic year, they will publish annual reports as well. For this programme, TFC will be studying the levels of the students right from the start till their graduation from Grade 5.

The organisation works on a multi-tier leadership model. The city director is assisted with city in-charge volunteers, mandal in-charge volunteers and school in-charge volunteers. This is to ensure smooth implementation of their programmes.

TFC hopes to contribute towards achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (Goal 4 is quality education) for the country. The idea of this NGO stemmed from children’s inaccessibility to literacy skills in government primary schools. They are working on a rural-teacher model for rural areas.

In a press release shared with CB, co-founder and CEO Chaitanya MRSK said: ‘We welcome individuals who have the passion for teaching and are keen on making a difference in the Indian education sector to join us. We are striving for quantifiable breakthroughs in the academic system.’

Interested citizens can register to volunteer by visiting the website www.teachforchange.in