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"Helping Hand" of the Month



Going beyond mainstream education


 Click here to read's Spotlight November 2002: An interview with Saraswathi


To Saraswathi every child has the innate potential to be creative and curious, and has the capacity to discover the world in his or her own way. She believes that education should enable every child to blossom and discover its potential to the fullest extent. That is why the 45-year-old MSW (Master of Social Work) has decided to dedicate her life to child centered learning to improve the quality of school learning and teaching in Tamil Nadu, India.


A base line survey done in the districts of Tiruvanamalai, Darmapuri and South Arcot showed uniform low performance in language and arithmetic and deficient teaching / learning processes even in the lower primary classes. It is this status that Saraswathi hopes to change.


With a diploma in social development from Canada, Saraswathi has worked with a number of NGOs like Indian Council for Child Welfare (ICCW) and Alarippu, both in New Delhi, India. As a CRY (Child Relief and You) Fellow, the annual budget for her work from CRY is Rs. 96,000.


When the Tamil Nadu government decided to revise the textbooks for classes I, II and III, Saraswathi worked with different state resource groups to bring out a child centered book which would kindle the interest of children, challenge their minds and give space for their creativity. These new textbooks are currently being used in government and aided schools throughout Tamil Nadu since June 2001.


Saraswathi has undertaken capacity building programs for teachers. Additionally she prepares training modules and teaching / learning materials for the Alternative Schools under the District Primary Education Project (DPEP) of Tamil Nadu.


 “Often transit school children are not given much opportunity to explore creative activities”, says Saraswathi. This motivated her to work with these children, to sustain their interest in school activities.


When a city transit school run by the Tamil Nadu Slum Clearance Board decided to have a 15-day workshop, Saraswathi pitched in with art, painting, storytelling and dance. The response from the children was tremendous. “They shed all their inhibitions and participated with so much enthusiasm!” smiles Saraswathi.


Saraswathi’s interactions with children have convinced her that stories have an enormous potential to enthuse children and open up a whole new world.  Saraswathi is currently working on bringing out stories in Tamil for primary school children in card format to make learning an enriching experience.


Start today, become a Helping Hand Yourself!


Click here to make a donation through CRY to help Saraswathi help children. Please mention that your donation is for Saraswathi’s work on child-centered education, and it will be considered as part of CRY’s “Adopt a Project Scheme”. Saraswathi may be contacted via CRY at:


Ms. Saraswathi
c/o Child Relief and You
57/2, PS Sivasamy Salai
(Sullivan Garden Road)
Chennai - 600 004
email: thanks Poonam Chengappa for information on this initiative