UPDATE / CLARIFICATION: Escuela Nueva is not a network of private schools, per se. It’s a child-centered methodology for primary school that has been developed in Colombia, and which Deepti is working to bring to India. For more on their (amazing) model, be sure to read Simply Speaking’s interview with Deepti from the TED India event last year.
My friend Deepti works for Escuela Nueva, a Montessori-style methodology developed in Colombia and being rolled out in different countries across the world. Here in Hyderabad, she works with some low-cost private schools adopting Montessori methods (in stark contrast to the rote teaching/learning I’ve seen in other Indian schools – no offense!).
One of the recent innovations at Escuela Nueva is student-run libraries. In the English-medium Grace Model School, a library card costs 10 rupees per month (about $0.17 cents) and you don’t have to be a pupil at the school to join the library. For what it’s worth, a month’s tuition at Grace is 80 rupees per month – less than $2.
Not bad for an English medium private school with computers, a building, a library, etc. More on private schools for the poor later.
Deepti asked me on a Friday night if I could come to the school and do some “English teaching” – not that I’m an English teacher, mind you – and innocently enough, I said yes, and asked my other friend Priya to come with. Arriving at the school less than 24 hours later, we were greeted by a sign:
Before the class started, Deepti (left) and Priya (right) watched as some of the students checked in with their new library cards:
At the end of class, Priya and I thought it would be fun to teach some words for body parts, and sing a related song:
It gets better:
More on school later; I went back this past weekend, did a slightly more serious lesson but did do a game at the end. I’ll try to go every Saturday I’m in Hyderabad, going forward.