Councillor Kayalvizhi Jayakumar, Ward 179, was overjoyed when Citizens for Harmony, Amity & Integrity (CHAI) approached her to explore possibilities of recommencing their spoken English classes for children of corporation schools in Thiruvanmiyur, considering that the TN Government is giving a thrust to English language skills among government school children.
The Councillor, being a very eloquent and communicative person, not only agreed immediately, but also organised a meeting of the volunteers and the Headmistresses of three corporation schools in her Ward. Post Pongal, CHAI started their sessions thrice a week in the Corporation Middle School (Gandhigramam) and Corporation Primary School at Odaikuppam and Kuppam Beach Road. Classes were conducted for teachers of these schools too.
The Councillor took active interest in the initiative and appraised the parents during PTA meetings. She stressed the importance of learning the English language to enable higher education. She started a WhatsApp group with the HMs of the three schools and CHAI coordinators to monitor the progress and also keep herself abreast of any issues that may assail CHAI volunteers. CHAI sessions concluded before Tamil New Year’s day (Apr.14). Upon the schools reopening, the sessions would commence again.
CHAI volunteers hail from different professions and still take the time to conduct classes for students and teachers of these schools. During this brief period of three months, students have shown improvement by way of greater understanding of simple English, faster ability to read simple sentences and have also been able to converse in English. Some children also started talking fluently and gave speeches during their school annual event.
CHAI,based out of Thiruvanmiyur, is a unique outfit modelled after cooperative federalism, initiated by independent journalist and media consultant Swati Amar who is the founder-coordinator. All volunteers join willingly, giving their time, effort and time for commuting to the schools on their own. They are empowered to conduct the classes independently, bringing in their own touch of originality and creativity. CHAI has a strong mentor in Uma Raman, who has over three decades of experience heading CBSE schools and is now actively involved in authoring English school books for governments, especially Tamilnadu government, and in training teachers and students. She is a member of several education committees and is the key person behind TN government’s ‘Ennum Ezhuthum’ programme and has authored handbooks for government school teachers to impart learning in an interactive format. CHAI course materials are prepared under her guidance. Lesson plans are prepared by Ganga Ramanathan in collaboration with Uma Raman. Ganga also offers great networking support to CHAI, apart from volunteering for teaching. Volunteers are given online orientation/ troubleshooting sessions by Uma regularly.
CHAI is constantly looking out for volunteers, both offline and online. For online sessions there are volunteers from the US, Australia, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Singapore, Surat, Delhi, Bengaluru, Coimbatore etc. Students from schools and colleges also join as volunteers. CHAI needs volunteers for the next academic session in these corporation schools. Those interested may call 94443 67633, 98400 48680 or text by WhatsApp to these numbers.