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Design Student Receives Strauss Foundation Scholarship

Kausalya Raman, a second-year Design and Economics double major at UC Davis, has received a scholarship from the Donald A. Strauss Foundation for her project, English Kadhavu, which helps students in India to become more proficient in English and better prepare them for university. 

English Kadhavu: In Tamilnadu, India, around 60% of elementary school students attend Tamil medium public schools. These students have little exposure to English, and often have teachers who are not fluent. In addition, the lack of access to appropriate reading material makes it difficult for them to acquire a basic proficiency in the language. Most higher education programs, especially in STEM, are currently only offered in English, and most job sectors require a basic English proficiency. This severely limits the opportunities available to students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds creating a language divide. I started  English Kadhavu to design, develop, and distribute English learning supplements in book boxes to schools across Tamilnadu to bridge this language divide. The book boxes contain books and related activities that are age-appropriate, easy for teachers to use, and set in the context of the students’ lives. As of now, we have created phonics sets for first grade and five book boxes for second grade and piloted them in seven different schools in Chennai with positive results. The goal of this proposal is to build upon this effort and develop content for elementary grade levels up to six so that the students acquire a solid foundation in the language and are able to pursue higher education and better paying jobs.

Raman is the founder of English Kadhavu, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that designs, develops, and distributes English learning resources to schools in India. After spending a year in Chennai and volunteering in a school for underprivileged students, she became aware of the problems many students studying in the Tamil language face because they are not proficient in English, and how these problems followed them when they began to seek jobs or higher education. She created English Kadhavu as a way to tackle this issue by giving students the resources they need to become more proficient in the language.

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