Raj and Nalini Sharma Give Multi-Year Grant to AIF to Support Digitization and Infrastructure of a 720-Student School Building in Tamil Nadu

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Raj and Nalini Sharma

BOSTON–Bostonians Raj and Nalini Sharma, early founders of the American India Foundation’s New England chapter and community leaders, are supporting a multiyear school transformative project in AIF’s Digital Equalizer program.

The gift is in memory of Raj Sharma’s father, Sri R.K.Sharma, Chemist and Connoisseur of Arts, and honoring the legacy of Raj’s grandfather, S.V. Kailasanatha Iyer

The gift will transform the Thirthapathi Higher Secondary School, Ambasamudram, Tamil Nadu and look to holistically strengthen student’s attendance, enrolment, teaching and learning activities and improve the learning outcomes of the approximately 720 students.

As schools pivot to digital learning with COVID19, this grant will help enrich the school and the students at a time when most schools in India are looking for ways to access quality education and rich curriculum to their students.

On learning about the aged roofs, outdated toilets and overall lack of adequate equipment and running electricity in the school, Raj and Nalini Sharma, founding members of the AIF New England Chapter, decided to partner with AIF to holistically improve this educational institution, with a special emphasis placed on technology-assisted learning. They have pledged support over three years (2020 to 2023) to honor the legacy of their late father Dr. R.K. Sharma, son of late S.V.Kailasanatha Iyer Of Ambasamudram, who grew up in Ambasamudram and attended Thirthapathi Higher Secondary School. The school, set up in 1899 in a small village, has a notable list of alumni including late Justice Ratnavel Pandian, IPS Officer S.A. Subbaiah, and Justice HR Krishnan.

On the occasion, Raj and Nalini Sharma said, “We’re delighted to be able to support this school at a time when it is most needed. While one remembers the benefits of technology in education during a time when students are unable to physically attend classes, we often overlook the role it can play during ‘normal’ times. We recognize the need to elevate the level of education and equalize access to technology for all students, especially in a time where the narrative surrounding learning is undergoing vast changes due to the ongoing pandemic.”

Added Nishant Pandey, CEO of the American India Foundation, “We’re deeply appreciative of this generous grant from Raj and Nalini Sharma, AIF’s long-time Boston-based supporters. The holistic school transformation program will integrate technology with collaborative project-based learning, while at the same time, it will also contribute to the infrastructure development in the school. We’re hoping that the impact from these dual interventions will empower students with knowledge and skills to be successful in life.”

The Headmaster of the school, V Srinivasan says, “We are very grateful to AIF and the donor for choosing to support our school. It will enable this age-old institution to re-invent itself in terms of infrastructure and academics. We expect our students to be motivated by digital education and show improved learning outcomes, leading to prized alumni of the school.”

Under this intervention, efforts will be directed towards improving Thirthapathi Higher Secondary School’s infrastructure, transforming the teaching methodologies with digital and financial literacy and STEM education. The proposed activities of this project also include infrastructure improvement such as renovation of classrooms and toilets, new equipment for a science lab, setting up a Learning Resource Center, Computer Lab and Robotics Lab. This initiative will lead to the implementation of the DE Way of Teaching, which is a student-centric teaching methodology. Through this intervention, all types of learners will be engaged and encouraged to embrace technology integration, project-based learning and reflection.

The program will also effectively use the Flipped Classroom Methodology, an innovative approach adopted in the schools to make use of this self-paced learning. Students first gain exposure to new material outside the class, usually via reading or lecture videos, and then use class time to do the harder work of assimilating that knowledge through problem-solving, discussion, or debates.

The American India Foundation is committed to improving the lives of India’s underprivileged, with a special focus on women, children, and youth. AIF does this through high impact interventions in education, health, and livelihoods, because poverty is multidimensional. AIF’s unique value proposition is its broad engagement between communities, civil society, and expertise, thereby building a lasting bridge between the United States and India. With offices in New York and California, twelve chapters across the U.S., and India operations headquartered in Delhi NCR, AIF has impacted 6.7 million lives across 26 states of India. Learn more at www.AIF.org.

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