Joliet, Ill. –  According to the Indian Ministry of Human Resource Development’s 2018 Statistics At a Glance, as many as eight million students in India drop out of school by the time they reach eighth grade. One of the primary causes of the dropouts is the low quality of education at the primary grade level, including the absence of effective reading programs. In an effort to address improve these conditions and provide better educational opportunities for children, the University of St. Francis (USF) in Joliet, Ill., and the Florida Center for Reading Research Florida State University (FSU-FCRR) are entering a five-year partnership with the National Council of Education Research Training (NCERT) in India to establish a sustainable National Center for Reading Intervention and Research (NCRIR) in India.

“Currently, there is no nationwide resource center for reading and reading intervention in India. Existing resources are few in number and are mostly locally organized. There is a clear dearth in reading intervention and use of evidence-based practices in India. The access to materials and resources remain limited to the few private schools that can afford them. The proposed partnership seeks to empower the main government organization at the National level (NCERT) that monitors state and territorial initiatives in education,” said Srimani Chakravarthi, Ph. D., USF College of Education professor.

The goal of the project is to establish a sustainable National Center for Reading Intervention and Research (NCRIR) in India for developing, training and promoting reading research and dissemination of evidence-based practices in reading, by forming a partnership between the National Center for Educational Research and Training (NCERT) in India and University of St. Francis-  College of Education (USF) and Florida State University -Florida Center for Reading Research (FSU-FCRR).

“The primary output of this alliance is to develop a sustainable National Center for Reading Intervention and Research in India with a sustainable resources for reading intervention and research. The outcomes of this alliance, primarily through the National Center are to equip educational institutions and teacher training centers in India with resources and methods to teach reading to students using evidence-based practices and assess the impact of using reading interventions. The long term impact of the National Center will be on improving reading fluency and comprehension in elementary school students, with improved percent of students reading at grade level and reduce drop-outs in school,” Chakravarthi added.

The proposed partnership intends to train approximately five educators from India for ten semesters over the course of the five-year partnership. The educators will be identified and selected to represent varied sectors (state and district-based). The five educators will be instructed in a semester-long ‘train the trainer’ model focusing on evidence-based reading practices and assessments in the U.S. partner universities (USF and FSU), together with resources from Florida Center for Reading Research (FCRR) and National Center on Improving Literacy (NCIL).

“The science of teaching reading has changed significantly in the past few decades, with substantial research on practices that work,” Chakravarthi added. “In the West, there has been a shift in literacy practices to using research-based methods of teaching, and data-based decision making process to inform interventions for reading, with emphasis on student outcomes rather than just the processes.”

While USF and FSU-FCRR has offered to train the personnel from India, the hosting of personnel will require room and board expenses each year, for the projected five years of training, for ten members each year. The estimated cost is about $240,000 each year for a total of $1.2 million for five years. Work on the partnership will continue in early 2020, as Chakravarthi and four key personnel from FSU-FCRR – Dr. Hugh Catts, Dr. Yaacov Pletscher, Dr. John Mathias and Jesse Torres –  will visit New Delhi, India from between January 6th through January 10th, 2020, to meet with NCERT director, Dr. Hrushikesh Senapaty.

For more information about the partnership or to become a philanthropic supporter of the collaborative literacy effort, please contact Srimani Chakravarthi at schakravarthi@stfrancis.edu.

The University of St. Francis, in Joliet, Ill., serves close to 4,000 students nationwide, offering undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and certificate programs in the arts and sciences, business, education, nursing and social work. There are over 50,000 USF alumni across the globe. For information, call 800-735-7500 or visit stfrancis.edu.

University of St. Francis: Bigger thinking. Brighter purpose.

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