We’ve got the pilot episode, we need a series! Kickstart the remaining episodes and kickstart a reading revolution across Tamil Nadu, India.
"The narrative...has been crafted with the taste of young viewers in mind. Centered around a magic tree and a wandering sorceress, it is a colourful fairy-tale with an instructive twist.”
–The Hindu (Chennai Edition), October 7th, 2009
We have the pilot (watch the 5 minute teaser), help us kickstart the remaining episodes in our series. Our goal on kickstarter is to secure financial support for at least the second episode of Aid India’s 12 episode English educational DVD series. While we are in the process of approaching foundations and corporations to fund remaining episodes we want to start production on the second episode immediately, which will in turn help us with our fund raising efforts.
The Language Divide:
While I can read and speak some Tamil, I’m pretty pathetic at it after living here for almost four out of the last 11 years. But I have a huge advantage; a large percentage of the population speaks English.
See, back at Independence, India decided English would be one of its co-official languages. While many of the northern states all adopted Hindi as their state language, down south, where I live, they speak Tamil, and the Tamils want nothing to do with Hindi. So, they adopted English as their main language of business and education. This is great for people like me, who are living and working here.
However, the English language has created a huge class (and caste) divide, and now English rules and maintains inequality in society. Think about it. Language is power. If you don’t speak ‘their’ language, how can you protest and demand equality, or for that matter even get an education. It’s simple...you can’t!
Basically, the upper classes (often of high caste) send their children to private schools, which are all English-medium. Those kids are educated entirely in English and become fluent speakers of English. Some families even speak English at home. But for those that can’t afford private English education, their only option is Tamil-medium schools. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not promoting English only education. Far far from it in fact! In a bilingual society, like Tamil Nadu, everyone must have access to quality language instruction; both in their mother tongue as well as in the second official language of the state/region.
This is where I come in, and this is where my project and plea to you comes in. Watch my video (above), it’ll explain more about why I’m here in India and what I’m doing here in India. I know it seems random, but we all have our passions, right? India is where, as my sister puts it, ‘my eyes twinkle’. I guess that means I seem most alive here. So back to the story...
The Ready to Read Program:
The Ready to Read program of Eureka Child is producing an English language DVD series. The DVD series is an integral component because it provides necessary multi-media support by encouraging students to practice speaking, listening, reading and singing in English. It was initiated after running phonics-based reading classes in several Chennai schools—teachers and students requested a multi-media tool to supplement the printed materials. And why not? Students studying at government schools, should have access to a variety of learning materials like their peers studying at private schools.
The bilingual, Tamil-English DVD, will contain 12 episodes threaded together by a group of students, their traveling magician friend and a forest creature. Each episode will introduce the characters to English sounds, reading activities, new vocabulary and original songs.
You can follow the program and its updates on our Ready to Read Blog
The Child Artists:
The children acting in this DVD series were selected from a government-aided primary school in Chennai and Aid India’s Eureka School in rural Koovathur, Kancheepuram. These children are from the targeted populations this series is intended to serve and have not acted previously. They aspire to be well versed with English yet they hail from a family setting where English is not spoken at home and their parents are daily wage labourers.
‘Sukku’ wants to become a teacher and help others learn English. Additionally, ‘January’s’ dream of becoming a collector will require English proficiency. For ‘Duru’ learning English will be essential to his goal of starting a computer company. While ‘Sher Singh’ is a natural in front of the camera, he will need to perfect his English to become a police officer.
You can find more pictures of the kids and from our pilot episode shoot on the Eureka Child Flickr page.
Our Project Plan:
The pilot episode is complete. We have given it to our teachers running the reading program in 36 schools across the state. Additionally, we are running focus groups to get feedback from educationists as well as groups of school children. After collecting feedback from students, teachers and community members we will start writing the next set of scripts and hope to begin production of the next several episodes early in 2010.
Who will it impact?
Once complete, the DVD series will be a key component in Eureka Child’s English program. The program will have an initial reach of 250 schools, or approximately 20,000 children in rural Tamil Nadu. Our objective is to increase the number of students who can read sentences in 5th standard to 50% from 16%, an increase of 200%. We plan to extend our outreach to interested schools and will partner with NGOs.
Making a Pledge:
Please consider donating to this exciting and innovative program. A pledge of any size counts and will make a difference. However, only if we reach our funding goal of $4,000 will we be able to keep the money you've generously pledged on kickstarter and can produce another episode. Please help us reach our goal.
Donations coming from the USA will go to AID USA. All donations to AID are tax-deductible in USA, under section 501(c)(3) of the IRS code. Receipts can be issued upon request.
Donations coming from India will go to Aid India. All donations are tax exempted under 80G of the Indian Income Tax Act, 1961. Receipts can be issued upon request.
Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.
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Pledge $1 or moreYou selected
Tea Time: Every little bit counts. Even $1 will buy biscuits, chai and one meal for a student while we are shooting.
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Duru: Receive a ‘shout out’ on our program blog. You may need ear plugs for this one.
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4 backers Limited (20 left of 24)
January: Previous reward, plus get a personal handwritten postcard from India to you, written by one of the child artists.
Pledge $20 or moreYou selected
Sukku: Get a digital download of the original soundtrack from the pilot episode “Wow! What’s that sound?”
Pledge $50 or moreYou selected
2 backers Limited (28 left of 30)
Sher Singh: Get your own copy of the pilot episode “Wow! What’s that sound?”
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3 backers Limited (3 left of 6)
SANTA'S SPECIAL (residents of Portland, OR only): Kickstart our project goal. Make a pledge BEFORE December 23rd and wake up on Christmas day to find the Ready to Read tote bag, DVD, and original soundtrack on your doorstep--delivered by Ms. Claus herself. Plus a “thank you” in the credits (if we get our project full funded).
Pledge $100 or moreYou selected
3 backers Limited (41 left of 44)
What’s that sound?: Sponsor your favorite sound (I’ll send you a list to choose from) and get the Ready to Read tote bag with a DVD, and a “thank you” in the credits.
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0 backers Limited (4 left of 4)
NEW YEAR'S SPECIAL (US & Canadian residents only): Kickstart our project goal. Make a pledge BEFORE December 25th and get the Ready to Read tote bag, DVD, and original soundtrack delivered to your house before New Year's. Plus a “thank you” in the credits (if we get our project full funded).
Pledge $250 or moreYou selected
2 backers Limited (8 left of 10)
Booga Booji: Sponsor the design and making of a costume and get a personalized video greeting from Booga Booji and his tree (birthday message, congratulations, etc), the tote bag with a DVD, and a “thank you” in the credits.
Pledge $500 or moreYou selected
1 backer Limited (9 left of 10)
Tommy the Tiger: Sponsor an original song for our remaining production and get a personalized video greeting from Gili Gili Valli on her caravan (birthday message, congratulations, etc.), the tote bag with a DVD, and a “thank you” in the credits.
Pledge $1,000 or moreYou selected
0 backers Limited (4 left of 4)
Ranga the Rabbit: Sponsor an original animation sequence and get a personalized video greeting from Ranga the Rabbit on his great big red rocket (birthday message, congratulations, etc.), the tote bag with a DVD, and a “thank you” in the credits.
Pledge $4,000 or moreYou selected
0 backers Limited (11 left of 11)
Associate Producer: Sponsor the production of an episode and we will use your name or your company name and logo as the Associate Producer, plus get the tote bag with a DVD and of course a mention in the credits. If you want more details about sponsoring the production at this level, please contact me directly!
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Discover our Set: Join me for a 5-7 day tour of Tamil Nadu including visits to several of Tamil Nadu’s most famous temples and heritage sites, a picnic outing with the stars and status as Executive Producer for the production of an episode plus the tote bag with a DVD (inclusive of economy class airfare, 3 star accommodation, train travel and meals). If you want more details about sponsoring the production at this level, please contact me directly!
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