Friday, April 9, 2010

Three little ones to CBSE school...

India has two different curriculum that schools can follow -- the State syllabus or the CBSE syllabus. The CBSE, or the Central Board of Secondary Education, syllabus is the central government's educational curriculum. Students under the CBSE curriculum face a more rigorous program at all grades, and the majority of the learning is done in English. CBSE is accessible primarily to children from middle- and upper-class backgrounds, as these schools are mostly private and are quite expensive -- anywhere between ten and twenty times the cost of our kids' current private school fees.

(So... if after reading this blurb, you're interested in supporting one of our CBSE-bound kids next year, let us know! Two are already sponsored, and we're looking for a third sponsor to cover the first year tuition of approximately 16,000 rupees or US$350.)

As such, lower-class and destitute but talented kids rarely have the chance to attend CBSE schools. Of the CBSE schools that we talked with in Mysore, none has ever admitted a child with a background similar to that of our kids at Karunya Mane.

Nevertheless, we're going to try to do something different next year and admit three of our top-performing little ones to a CBSE school. We believe that, after a period of adjustment to the stricter, more rigorous curriculum, they will thrive and do well in such an environment.

Our three little ones heading to CBSE school are Surya, Shwetha, and Lalitha. Lalitha, who just finished nursery school, has been admitted to kindergarten. Surya and Shwetha will take the entrance exam on April 17th, for admission to 1st and 2nd grades, respectively. They are currently getting tutoring during the summer break (April and May) by one of the teachers working at the school.

Little Surya, below, studies very well and his overall behavior is excellent -- he is mature, composed, quiet, very responsible for his age, and extremely thoughtful in all of his actions. His tutor says that he's incredibly smart and picks up new concepts immediately. It's amazing to remember that he spent his early years sitting with his mom on the streets while she begged.


Shwetha will start 2nd grade next year, and is, like Surya, a very well-behaved child. She comes from a broken, abusive home environment, but mom has remained a loving and caring supporter of her kids throughout their family turmoil. Shwetha washes her own clothes every morning and is always willing and ready to help someone else whenever she can. Shwetha did well in school this year, and loves her new CBSE tutor.



Little Lalitha will start kindergarten at the CBSE school. This past year, she attended nursery school and after-school tutoring with three other little boys from KM (Gowtham, Mohan, and big Darshan) -- and in that group, she proved herself to be quite independent and the unquestionable leader.

Next year, as our next set of nursery school kids (currently, Umesh, Adarsh, and little Darshan) work their way through their first year of being in a school environment, we'll evaluate them to determine who may be a good fit for admission to the CBSE school. We also plan to admit to CBSE 1st grade some of the kids finishing up kindergarten next school year, as a few of the little girls in that group are quite sharp, like Sowmya (Surya's sister), Jyothi, Tunmaya, and Parveen... we'll keep you posted on their progress.

The risk, of course, is that our kids won't "fit in" given the disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds that they come from. But we are confident that, with the right guidance and support, they can break through these barriers and thrive in their new school.

Without a doubt, they deserve the opportunity. Let's wish Surya and Shwetha luck on the entrance exams on the17th!