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  • Meeting Minutes for Asha Chennai on 24 th February, 2019


Decisions are highlighted in blue.

Minutes of the Meeting held on Sunday, 24 th February, 2019 at Ragasudha Hall Luz Avenue, Chennai 600004

Following were present



Jayashree Arun

Kasturi Easwaran


Rajaraman Krishnan ( Co-ordinator)


Sundaram R


Gershon Gurin-Podlish  from Boston By Invitation


  1. Bhaskar gave an account of the proceedings of the Asha India Conference held in IIT Bombay in  Mumbai on February 8th and 9th. Representatives from UP, Maharashtra (Mumbai) and Chennai attended.

General issues relating to administrative and structural arrangements between Asha for Education USA, Asha India Varanasi and Asha Chennai were broadly discussed.  

Learning Centres run by Asha Mumbai to cater to  children from underprivileged sections of the society outside formal school hours  were shown round. The quality of teachers in these centres was impressive. . One of the noteworthy  display in such a centre, named Maker Ghat, was the availability of the latest technological gizmos for kids  such as in robotics, 3D Printing, GIS , virtual reality devices, and electronic boards, etc

Asha India will be running the Gandhi school handled by Mala Foundation which had run into difficulties in complying with government regulations. Asha Chennai volunteers were also encouraged to visit the school if they go to Pondichery or Auroville.

2.  Under the Innovative and Scalable Project Rs 25 Lakhs to be received  over two years from Asha for Education USA has been allotted to Asha Chennai against the proposal submitted for Rs 60 Lakhs many months back.

Under  Asha Kanini project Asha Chennai is already developing education packages evolving into Samacheer Kalvi text book lessons. Under the ISP Scheme work is already on hand for scaling  up by developing appropriate software. This however would require good quality resource persons with graduate computer skills from Engineering Colleges. Volunteers were requested to recommend suitable candidates, if they could. These Education Lessons apps will be hosted on a separate Asha Kanini website to eventually enable all schools in TN to adopt them.

Asha Chennai will also be working on a research project with IIT Bombay, Education and Technology department on Analytics of learning outcomes based on the assessments that we conduct.

3.  Explaining the status of funding from Trimble it was stated that although there was no doubt about  funding forthcoming the process was slow. Asha Chennai has to stick to the deadlines where funds have been received.

4.  Written Assessments are apace and will be completed by the first  week of March ‘19.

5.  The new Library at Project Thulasi was inaugurated on 22nd February. Mr Gershon Gurin-Podlish  explained the efforts being made to inculcate reading habits to first generation kids attending schools. He said that  it was heartening to see, after these kids pick up the reading habit, the most sought after book by them for personal possession was the Dictionary.

Discussions and Decisions

1.  Staff  policy paper was perused. The specific request  by Manigal Project to grant Mrs Uma Maheswari Rs 5,000 for the period of six months from 1st Jan 2018 as her maternity pay  was examined. The incumbent teacher was drawing a pay of Rs 10,000 (consolidated) as full time teacher. The teacher had been working part time since return from maternity from   1 Jan 2019 at Rs 2000 per month because of reduced project need though she wished to work full time.

As the teacher wished to work full time, rather than averaging her pre-leave and post-leave pay as the policy recommends, we decided to take her full pre-maternity salary for maternity benefit calculation. However a notional 10% cut was considered appropriate to cover the  conveyance allowance to bring it on par with other teachers in rest of the projects. Hence it was decided unanimously to grant Rs 4500 as maternity pay for six months.

As a fall out of this case, it was considered necessary to codify such expedient  changes and attendant justifying circumstances suitably and incorporated in the staff policy. It was also recommended to the project steward to consider bringing Mrs. Umamaheswari full time as reducing the working hours when the staff was away on maternity leave is not proper for an organisation to do.

2.   Asha Admin policy Version 4.2 was perused.

Under para  2. Sub para

d) the guidelines for Recognising as Volunteer have been laid down. It was decided that guideline 4 . therein  should be amended as follows.

Replace “2 meetings” by  “3 meetings in a period of one year”

It was also decided to incorporate as Guideline 6 the following to delist or  inactive or dormant volunteers.

6. Volunteers who have not participated in any meetings or in any specific Asha administrative or project activity for more than six months would be requested to participate in Asha Chennai activities over the next three months. If they further do not participated during these three months, they will be removed from the  Chennai Core volunteers list (i.e. asha-chennai-core mailing list).

Further section 2.h will be extended as follows.

6. Outstation volunteers may be paid money for travel and food for attending meetings as specified in point 5. These may be approved by the coordinator or treasurer.

All these changes were approved unanimously by all the volunteers present at the meeting.

3.  Request for Salary by Joyson a teacher in SSV Higher Secondary School, Madhapattanam  and 4 more teachers who worked under the Tirunelveli/UQE project was considered along with the recommendation from the HM.  It was recalled that the matter of funding UQE project beyond December ’17 was a subject matter of discussion in monthly meetings held on 9/7/17, 20/8/17,20/1/18 and 22/4/18 and decision not to fund the project beyond December 2017 was taken and reiterated giving reasons thereof. It was explained that the teachers were not dealt with by Asha Chennai directly and it was Navjivan Trust that interacted with the teachers on a regular basis.  Co-ordinator of Asha Chennai had also informed Mr Nalan of Navjeevan Trust of this decision after the meeting in July and August of 2017. Hence it was decided to turn down the request of Joyson as lacking merit. In addition to informing Mr Joyson, copy should be endorsed to Navjeevan Trust. This was decided unanimously.

4.  It was felt  that it would be a good idea if during monthly meetings some eminent speakers, more particularly on Education could be invited to share their views with us for an hour or so during the meetings , say between 11AM and 12 noon. Mr Shankar Sadasivam who is in the BOD of AofE USA for several years, is in India now. It was decided to invite him for the first such talk during the meeting in March 2019. Therefore the date for the  monthly meeting may have to be decided to suit the convenience of Mr Shankar Sadasivam.Such meetings if announced though engagements columns of dailies could help in attracting more volunteers.

5. Ms Sandhya a teacher in Tulsi project has approached Asha Chennai for a loan of Rs 8000 to buy a cycle and has been recommended by Paripoornam the steward of Project Tulsi. The loan was approved unanimously. The monthly conveyance allowance of Rs 350 will be continued to be paid to her.

7. Teacher Participation in English Assignment and Spoken English sessions was discussed. It was observed that all teachers do not participate. There are difficulties like signals, breakdown of laptops. A few of them have already more than passable proficiency. Considering that there appears to be perceptible improvement among those who participate both in comprehension and ability to construct simple error free sentences and shedding of inhibition in attempting to speak English it was decided to continue with the scheme. The stewards should encourage participation among their teachers.

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