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Cambridge goes MAD to make a difference

 

Article in The Hindu, Aug'12, click here to view

 

Article in Spiceroute Nov'11, click here to view

 

If you're visiting India in June, don't be surprised to see children living in street shelters in many cities clutching Cambridge books.

An initiative to bring high quality English learning materials to the poorest children has been launched by an organization called Make A Difference (MAD) partnering with Cambridge University Press India.

 

 

MAD, a youth volunteer network providing quality education to children living in orphanages and street shelters, was started by a group of college students and is now an 800-strong teacher network of college students and young professionals.

The English project takes learners from starter to intermediate level using Cambridge English for Schools . The biggest challenge MAD faces is to make children feel positive about their future and to create awareness among them that learning English could make a significant difference to their lives.

Jithin Nedumala, MD of MAD, comments: “To most children, becoming an autorikshaw (TUK TUK) driver is their cherished dream and they feel that education can make no difference to their driving skills, so why study? It is this negativity which we are trying to overcome by opening up opportunities which they thought impossible.”

Only 13% of high schools in India use English as a medium of instruction yet a child's higher education and future job prospects depend heavily on having it. Access to the Cambridge curriculum will put children on a par with those educated in good schools. Crucially it gives them the chance to gain a qualification, the First Certificate in English, accepted by universities and corporate employers.

 

 

“From dreary black and white photocopies to bright colourful textbooks” was how a recent article on the project in The Hindu newspaper put it. The heavily discounted materials are being paid for by American software company ZOHO.

Press India MD, Manas Saikia, is fully behind the link-up with MAD. He said: “Education, especially English education, is more often the singular difference between the accomplished and the struggler and is the tipping factor for many.”

The project currently covers 10 cities, reaching out to 2500 children. The project focuses on the teachers as well as the learners: Cambridge India plays a mentor role in designing their curriculum, training them to CELTA standard or helping them find trainers and getting them in touch with ELT networks. Andrew Littlejohn, the author of Cambridge English for Schools , has also offered to train the MAD teachers.

Find out more at www.makeadiff.in;
Blog: www.makeadiff.in/blog

 
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