RightStart 2022

After a gap of 3 years RightStart was conducted from 7th to 11th of June 2022. With about 100 teachers participating and excellent sessions in Maths, English, Science and Technology, it was a great success.

RightStart 2022, our annual teacher training programme took place from June 7th to June 11th. Here is a detailed report.
Click here to see all the photos from RightStart 2022.

We were once again organizing RightStart after a break of 2 years. RightStart was last held in the summer of 2019. We couldn’t hold an in person RightStart in 2020 or 2021 because of Covid-19. Staying in IIT for 5 days and soaking in an educational environment is something that the teachers and the volunteers cherish and therefore we were greatly looking forward to RightStart2022!

We did not have any trouble getting permission from IIT for the students to stay there and from Vanavani for organizing the conference there. However some of the procedures were more strict because of Covid. All the teachers needed to get an RTPCR test negative report. While their default requirement is for the RTPCR report to be within 36 hours of entry into the hostel, they relaxed it to 72 hours for us. This enabled us to get free RTPCR tests at govt. hospitals instead of spending Rs 600 or more per person in private testing centres.

Since we had to give the name of the teachers ahead of time, we couldn’t substitute one teacher for another. To use the mess facilities for our teachers coming every day, we had to give their name and ID details. Therefore for volunteers and trainers which will vary day to day we couldn’t use the mess facilities but instead used their staff canteen. With all these complexities, we were a little concerned about how it would go. But things worked perfectly and we did not have any problems.

For these reasons and also as the number of our teachers itself exceeded 100, we did not invite teachers from other organisations. Adding a further twist, several teachers from Thiruvallur preferred to come everyday from Thiruvallur instead of staying at IIT. The fact that we had the teacher excursion just a couple of weeks earlier and that the summer holidays were only 4 weeks long also contributed to this. For these teachers we allowed them upto Rs 400 per person if they wished to hire a car one way. But we insisted that they should be in time. To our pleasant surprise, almost all the teachers were on time and didn’t ask for permission to leave early on all the 5 days!

The training sessions were held at the Vanavani school inside the IIT campus. They allowed us to use their auditorium for the all the sessions. This is a large high ceilinged hall with a capacity to seat 300+ people! It was a very nice space for our sessions. We had a small felicitation function on the last day also at the auditorium. We could also use the microphones and speakers in the auditorium.

The following teachers participated in RightStart 2018.

Project Sangamam56 teachers, 1 coordinator and 2 system admins came to IIT. The coordinator and system admins assisted with the organizing. Some 20 of the teachers had to commute every day from their place.
Project Pearl15 teachers and 1 coordinator.
Project Thulasi12 teachers, two librarians and one coordinator from Project Thulasi came for the training.
Poorna Vidhya Eight teachers came.
Project Manigal Three teachers from Manigal came for the sessions.

On the whole 70 teachers and staff stayed at IIT hostels. 30 of them commuted every day.

Trainers and Sessions
We had planned 2 days of Maths training, one day Science session, half a day training on English comprehension, half a day on technology and science and half a day session on the Karadi Path methodology. On the fifth day afternoon there was a felicitation function as well. Other than the Maths training, all the other sessions were a little atypical! We were also eagerly waiting to see how successful they would be.

Maths Training on 7th and 9th June

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Ms. Meena Suresh has been working with Asha Chennai in training the teachers and other aspects of improving the quality of Mathematics education for several years. This year she reinforced the basic principles of moving from concrete to abstract and on how to build conceptual clarity. She covered the entire class 1 to 5 curriculum and a little bit of the middle school curriculum. She showed how the standard kits can be used. Ms. Kalavathi also assisted Ms. Meena Suresh in the sessions.

Scientific Method on June 8th
This was one of the atypical sessions. The lofty goal of the session was to get the teachers to appreciate what is scientific method! Purva put up 5 science experiment setups. These were,

  1. Two beakers – one with a saturated solution of salt in 20 ml water and another with just water and a dish with salt in it.
  2. A set of coloured leaves – coloured for different reasons.
  3. A withered plant and a ph paper to study the acidity of the soil.
  4. A jar of hot milk in cold trough of water. Another with a jar of cold milk in a hot trough of water.
  5. A glass with frozen oil with a theremometer showing 4oC.

In each of these setup, there were a bunch of questions. The teachers can pick a couple of these questions (or questions of their own) which they can use one of these experiment setup to try and answer. They were also taught how to measure the following quantities,

  1. Weight.
  2. Volume.
  3. Temperature.
  4. Length.
  5. Time.
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They were also taught the importance of rigour in measuring these quantities. They were made to appreciate the accuracy of various measurements.

The session was a tremendous success. None of the teachers (even those with BSc Chemistry and BSc Physics degrees), have ever learnt science in this way. They haven’t had the opportunity to measure things on their own. I constantly heard from the teachers and even couple of the volunteers on how they wish they were taught science this way!

However, the session took longer than we anticipated. Most of the teams couldn’t take up a hypothesis, craft an experiment to verify the hypothesis and present their finding! We hope to take up this session in some more detail in the coming year!

Jun10th Morning – English Comprehension and Quiz

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Our volunteer Venkat with assistance from Sundaram Sir, read out a story to our teachers and prepared
a Jeopardy like quiz on them on comprehension / sentence building as well as on grammar. The teachers were split into 5 teams and had to compete against each other for the points. It was a very enjoyable half a day for the teachers.

June 10th Afternoon – Technology and Science
This was another very atypical of our sessions. This session once again had a lofty goal of making the teachers see the connection between technology and science. Professor Abhijit Deshpande from the Chemical Engg. Department with his RuTAG (Rural Technology Action Group) team did this session. The teachers were once again broken into teams. Each team had to pick a technology from one of the following,

  • Drone based pesticide sprayer.
  • Elevator.
  • Paddy Thresher
  • Oil Extractor
  • Bulldozer
  • Mechanical Jack.
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They were asked to understand the need for the technology and how it serves its purpose. But beyond that they were asked to identify the science topics that relate to this technology. They were also asked to pick some out of the box questions that children would ask about that technology and the answer. Finally the teams had to present these about the technology that they had chosen.

The teachers participated well and felt this was a good way to teach science and relate it to real things they see and use.

June 11th morning – Karadi Path Methodology

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Karadi Path is an offshoot of Karadi tales. They have created a way to teach English through activities, songs and stories. They have seen this to work much better than a traditional graded English teaching that goes from letters to words to sentences to paragraphs and so on. We are also planning to try their method at a few schools potentially expanding to cover most of our schools. Ms. Preethika Venkatakrishnan demonstrated how their method would work. They explained their method and also took the teachers through how that would be implemented in a classroom. Most teachers were keen to try these out themselves.

Here is a group photo we took with the Karadi Path team.

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June 11th Afternoon – Valedictory Function
While we invited our trainers and also some of the donors and supporters of IIT, they couldn’t turn up for the event and it ended up being an internal Asha function. This turned out well for the teachers as they could have fun without worrying too much about how well they were doing etc.

There were many dance shows, stand-up comedy bits, songs etc. One of the programmes that stood out for me was a mime show about how Asha’s mini-schools functioned during Covid by the Pearl teachers. Another comedy bit by Soundariya the standard things key Asha Chennai people say and do was very funny. She imitated various people in Asha and the rest had to identify the people being imitated. It was gentle poke at the various key people at Asha. Everyone including the people being made fun of enjoyed the programme. All the performances were greatly appreciated.

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Certificates were given to the teachers who participated in the training.

Service Awards for Long Term Staff of Asha Chennai

An important event that we started in 2019 was continued in this RightStart as well. Teachers who have completed 5, 10 and 15 years with Asha this year were giving service awards. It provides us a platform for us to sincerely thank them for their contribution to Asha. With as many as 25 teachers receiving service awards and another 3 or 4 more in the audience who have already crossed some of these boundaries, it shows our strength as an organization. Our success has been achieved through the untiring efforts of these people who have worked for Asha.

For each of these people, a steward of volunteer familiar with their work spoke a few words of appreciation and a certificate and trophy was awarded to them. For people who have completed 10 and 15 years, a gift of Rs 10,000 was also given.

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5 Year Service Awards
As we are doing this after a break of 2 years, as many as 23 teachers crossed the 5 year mark! These are,

  • P.Philomena from Poorna Vidhya
  • R. Vanitha from Sangamam
  • Rajkumari T from Sangamam
  • Geetha Natarajan from Manigal
  • K.Seetha Ezhilarasi from Sangamam
  • Sridurga Sridhar from Manigal
  • R.Nishanthi from Sangamam
  • M.Anjalai from Thulasi
  • M. Iswarya from Sangamam
  • Muthu M our system Engineer from Sangamam
  • Ezhilarasi.V from Sangamam
  • R.Dharani from Sangamam
  • T.Jothi from Sangamam
  • M.Sulochana from Sangamam
  • Anusuya M from Sangamam
  • S.Geetha from Sangamam
  • Nathiya R from Sangamam
  • Poonkodi from Sangamam
  • Kumari S from Sangamam
  • Eswari R from Sangamam
  • Sasikala S from Thulasi
  • Radhika M from Sangamam
  • Jayashree.A from Sangamam

10 Year Service Awards
Two of our teachers has crossed the 10 year mark during these last 3 years. In addition to these two, Maheswari and Malliga are other staff who have completed their 10 years service in 2019 itself.

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  • J. Santhasophya She joined project Sangamam in Nov 2006 but left work for 2.5 years to rejoin in Feb 2010 (which is regarded as her start date). Since then she has worked continuously for Asha. She was one of the earlier computer teachers and the one who provided the continuity to train the rest of the computer teachers. All teachers who joined later first identify Santhasophya as the person who helped them the most. She is now one of our lead teachers. She helps in the overall management of our project Sangamam.
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  • D. Sailaja She joined project Sangamam in June 2009. She took two 9 month breaks for her B.Ed and maternity leave. But then in April 2016 she had to take a 2 year break for her second child birth and joined us back in August 2018. She along with Sophya were the first computer teachers and critical in defining the nature of work of the computer teachers. She transitioned to become a Kanini trainer and has now been training government teachers in Thiruvalangadu block on using Asha Kanini.
15 Year Service Awards
We are proud that we have teachers and staff who have been with us for more that 15 years! In addition to Deivanayagi, Srinivasan is another staff who has completed his 15 years in 2019 itself.
S. Deivanayagi She was the first teacher to join project Sangamam in Sept 2004! She has continuously taught for Asha at Kuppammal Chathiram. She is sincere in learning new things and uses the opportunities provided by Asha to better herself as a teacher. Since the Covid school closures and reopening, she has also been working every evening to teach and provide nutrition support to a very poor tribal group at Thozhudhavakkam! She unfortunately couldn’t be with us on the 11th of June to receive the award. Srinivasan, Coordinator of Project Sangamam (and her husband) received the award on her behalf. Here is a photo of some of the volunteers with Srinivasan.
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The expenses for RightStart2022 were met from Asha Chennai’s internal funds. As Amazon is funding 30 of our teachers about one third of the expenses were assigned to the Amazon funded project.

Here is a break of our our expenses against the budget.

Heads of expenses





Accommodation and food for outstation participants




Resource persons and facilitators Honorarium and travel expenses



We only paid couple of trainers.


Local travel for teachers/staff who will be coming every day




Travel Expenses for Outstation Participants



Costed Rs 33000 for just Sangamam and another Rs 15700 for just the Pearl train tickets. This was under-estimated.


Lunch and tea for all participants, volunteers, helpers and trainers.25,000


This did not include lunch.


Materials for participants and during sessions




Certificates and Trophies35000



Documentation, Administration and Misc10,500



Rs 355,000

Rs 349,767

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