While taking a walk around the neighbhourhood with her father, Krutika Rao saw a group of students coming out of a shanty. They inquired about the place and understood that it was a tuition centre where children from less privileged communities come to study. This led the duo to start Nukkad Pathshala, an after-school learning centre, across Tamil Nadu, where students get educated in foundational Mathematics, Science and English.
“Education is something very important to me and my father, Ganesh Rao. There are a lot of students in India who drop out of school due to various reasons. We wanted to bring in a positive impact on students from rural villages by encouraging them to continue with their education. That’s how we started our first Nukkad Pathshala in Coimbatore. If we offer quality education after school, students will not discontinue their studies,” says Krutika.
Currently, there are 38 centres in the state in districts like Coimbatore, Salem, Tanjavur, Thoothukudi, Namakkal, Tiruchy and Tirupur. All these centres are centrally located in villages so that everyone can have easy access to it. The centre was started with Ganesh’s microfinance company’s CSR funds. Students from Classes 1 to 10 are taught subjects like math and science for two hours (from 6 pm to 8 pm), from Monday to Saturday.
“Each centre has one or two teachers depending on the strength of students. Some centres have 35 students and there are around 70 students in other centres. Students can also clarify their school doubts. The two hours are divided into two sections — during the first half, students are taught subjects through activity-based learning and during the second half, we focus on building the confidence level of students,” explains Krutika.
Apart from the regular classes, they have a Friday Book Club that helps students gain confidence in communicating in English. “We started this programme in July with an aim to help children get exposure to the English language. We have set up libraries in each centre. The students are showing a great response. Saturdays are considered as an activity day. You can see children playing sports, carroms, drawing, performing yoga, and learning how to stitch and so on,” adds the 22-year-old.
In the future, Krutika and her father plan to set up Nukkad Pathsala in various parts of the country. She says they have received a tremendous response from children and parents. “We could see a lot of behavioural changes in them. They have improved in academics and also become more confident,” says Krutika.