The Varkey GEMS Foundation seeks to establish ten highly replicable low-cost Learning Resources Centers ($10,000 to set up each center) in India. Equipped with educational resources and backed-up by video satellite technology to access a wide range of library and video materials, youth will be able to supplement their education with vital skills necessary to progress to the next stage of their education journey. Each Center will be able to host 100-150 students per day.
These centers will allow students to focus on specific skills they failed to acquire during their formal education and will provide a model for a potential national project.
In its pilot phase, the Centers will be built in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan. Each Center will be run by an Operations Manager who will look after operations and will have two to four teachers/trainers who will help students: improve their English language skills; expand knowledge and use of information & communications technology; pass their 10th grade exam; prepare for careers in service industries (i.e. retail, hospitality, etc.)
The ambition is to build ten prototype structures in India, which, if successful, can scale to 500 Resource Centers across India over five years with additional resources.
Project Planning, local partner confirmation, and in-country planning will take place between October and December of 2012. From January to July 2013, the centers will be constructed and staff will be hired. In late Summer 2013, the centers will be inaugurated. Throughout this period, there will be ongoing communication and coordination between partners. Progress reporting will be done at three points during the next twelve months; January, July, and September 2013.
Whilst India is known for its academic excellence, the reality for the vast majority is that the quality of the education they receive is poor. Research has shown that after five years of education almost 50% of children in India cannot solve a simple math problem. Sixty percent of those in rural communities have not mastered basic literacy. When Children complete their formal education, they leave with massive gaps in their knowledge, which proves to be an impediment when they wish to pursue further education or secure a job.
In addition, youth from rural and semi-urban locations in India drop out of school at an early age and remain out of school for years, primarily to work and supplement their family income instead. As a result, students find it hard to break out of the cycle of poverty.
In order to provide these youth with skills that are required to enter the work force and succeed, the Varkey GEMS Foundation proposed the concept of the Learning Resources Centers. These Centers would allow the local youth to acquire vital additional skills and knowledge that will enable them to have better life opportunities.