In 1991 Sally Whittingham and two other members of the Bishopston Kuppam Link went to the village of KV Kuppam to set up a model play centre, and they have returned many times over the years to extend the play centre idea to four other outlying villages and to offer further teacher training. During their visit in 2006 they were able to arrange for the purchase of land – a beautiful coconut grove- on which to construct a model play centre and teacher-training resource. They had been persuaded by former teachers that the learning through play method had been extremely effective in encouraging the children to take responsibility for their own learning and therefore as a good basis for their subsequent educational success.
Over the next two years, working with Christian Medical College and in particular with the Rural Unit for Health and Social Affairs, the model play centre was planned and carefully designed to make the most of the coconut grove. The Link eagerly awaited the construction of the building and in late 2008 it was finally completed.
In January 2009 Sally and four other Link members travelled to India to set up the centre, to equip it and to select and train teachers.
Six ladies applied for two teaching positions in the new centre and they attended five days of training as part of the selection process. They tackled each new experience with enthusiasm, encouraging and supporting each other, and demonstrating a willingness to share their many skills and learn new ones. The two teaching positions were offered to Rani who lives in the village of Kamachiammanpet and Padmini from Seetheramanpet. They formed a friendship during the training and have worked together very successfully since the centre opened in June 2009.
The play centre has been named ‘The Pachaikili Play Centre – A Model Resource for Pre-school Education’ and is now open five days a week, with milk snacks only offered to the children – parents provide lunches. A pachai kili is a green parrot in Tamil, the local language.
In January 2010 Sally again visited India and spent three weeks working alongside the teachers observing what went on and playing with the children. She was able to offer further training and ideas for developing the play centre. She was thrilled with the way the teachers and the ayah worked well as a team and with real enthusiasm for their work. Since then Sally and other BKL trustees have visited many times and the play centre has gone from strength to strength.
To view a PowerPoint presentation, click HERE.
During free play the children re-enact their experiences at the temple, ringing the bell…
…and chanting Om Shakti.
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