Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Chennai: At the heart of the historical heritage garden of the Theosophical Society, lies the Olcott Memorial School with a vision to provide quality education to economically disadvantaged children. Making this vision a reality is The Pemanda Monappa Trust, a non - profit, gender neutral and non-denominational entity working to support the needy and the weakest. Partnering with the British Council, who are experts in teaching of English, and the Theosophical society, the trust has embarked on an initiative to improve the skills of teachers from the Olcott Memorial School to teach spoken English. 

It is a fact that India is emerging as a favoured destination for investment and English has become a language that creates opportunities for employment and self- growth. The growing demand for professionals with effective English speaking skills makes it imperative that young learners are enabled to become proficient in its use. This is all the more necessary and important for those belonging to the economically and socially weaker sections of society, who are handicapped due to circumstances beyond their control. 

The initiative at this school is as poignant as it is ambitious because the children who will be benefited by the programme belong to marginalised families and are children of fishermen, construction workers, etc

Mr. Belliappa, Managing Trustee, Pemanda Monappa Trust,  speaking on the initiative said: “This programme involving The Pemanda Monappa Trust, the British Council and the Theosophical Society will be a landmark initiative exemplifying the value of partnership and collaboration where each of these organizations contribute their resources for the good of the weakest and needy. It is also proposed to identify a group of students who have shown interest and competence, and put them on a fast track so that they get optimum benefit.”

Being launched on April 22, 2015, the programme will run for a year, in the course of which the British Council will deploy experts, guide and monitor the progress of the project, and provide substantial inputs, for teachers and learners, both online and offline. About 10 teachers and 500 children will benefit immensely from this programme.

Ms. Mei-kwei Barker, Director, British Council South India said, “Ensuring greater access through digital content, improving quality, and teacher training will be the focus areas of British Council’s English intervention with Olcott Memorial School”.

The programme covers 3 main strands:

LearnEnglish for Schools, a digital resource to improve Spoken English, will be installed in the English language lab and a programme of engagement for teachers and learners will be implemented. 

LearnEnglishPathways, an online course to improve language proficiency, will be delivered to selected teachers from the school.  

Online moderated teacher training courses will focus on methodology and classroom interaction, improving the skills of teachers in the classroom and ensuring improved learning outcomes.  

For more information on our English digital resources please visit:

Notes to Editor

Background on Partnership:

The Olcott Memorial School located in the Theosophical Society Campus, is supported by Pemanda Monappa Trust. It is a Tamil medium school with about 500 students between classes 1 to 12. English is a subject from Class 1 but until last year they have struggled to recruit English teachers. The school now has 37 to 40 teachers overall and around 7 English teachers. They have good English language and technological resources that students can access, such as English books, an English language lab, projectors, about 35 computers and internet connectivity through dongles. 

Based on a comprehensive Needs analysis by the British Council, it was determined that the following areas need attention: 

  • need for an in-service teacher training course that would focus on teaching methodologies and support English language skills with an end outcome of improved skills for students 
  • need for an ongoing monitoring and evaluation programme to support teachers 
  • comprehensive resources to help teachers improve their English language proficiency. 

The Pemanda Monappa Trust has agreed to fund this initiative for the school and launch this venture on 22 April 2015 in the presence of:

1. Mr Tim Boyd, International President Theosophical Society

2. Mr Belliappa – Managing Trustee 

3. Mr Neil Sarkar – Deputy Teaching Centre Manager, British Council South India 

4. Ms Nirupa Fernandez – Assistant Director, English Digital Partnerships, British Council India

About the British Council

The British Council creates international opportunities for the people of the UK and other countries and builds trust between them worldwide. We are a Royal Charter charity, established as the UK’s international organisation for educational opportunities and cultural relations. Our 7,000 staff in over 100 countries work with thousands of professionals and policy makers and millions of young people every year through English, arts, education and society programmes. The British Council was established in India in 1948. The British Council is recognised across India for its network of 9 libraries and cultural centres. We offer a range of specialised projects in arts, education, exams, English language and society to audiences across India and more than 100,000 members. We also provide access to English language training and learning for both students and teachers, offer UK qualifications in India and enable opportunities to study in the UK.

Our English language teaching centres in Chennai, Delhi and Kolkata provide a range of general and business English classes, specialised skills based programmes and young learner courses. We work with a wide range of Indian partners in cities all over India enabling British and Indian experts to meet and collaborate and to nurture mutually beneficial relationships.