Fellow Since 1994
This profile was prepared when Janaki Rajan was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1994.
The New Idea
Janaki is working to change the quality of education that millions of children in India receive. For Janaki, that means working within the government school system because that is where the vast majority of Indian children receive their education. Working inside the public school system is also important because it can be done immediately and because, since it does not require major structural adjustments, it is far less likely to trigger bureaucratic rejection than outside challenges.Janaki sends her volunteer teachers into the public schools to work side by side with the government teachers. These teachers provide a supplementary curriculum for the students during times when the regular teacher is absorbed with other duties. The curriculum is particularly designed to help students study for and pass their secondary school final examinations, permitting them to continue on to pre-university courses. Janaki's teachers also provide one-on-one tutoring and special attention to students, particularly those who are economically disadvantaged. Janaki's initial testing of these methods in public schools has shown that the one-on-one tutoring, an extended school year, and a supplementary curriculum have helped to raise pass rates by thirty to sixty percent in participating schools. While this is a considerable achievement in and of itself, Janaki further plans to help the permanent staff learn how to meet this new high pass rate standard even after Janaki's volunteers phase out of the school.Further, Janaki hopes that this ice-breaking program will foster a more conducive atmosphere in the public schools in which to initiate many other needed changes, including curriculum reform.