back arrowGo Back


In conversation with Srivathsan Ramaswamy: Teaching Learning Material for FLN Classrooms

By CSF Editorial Team

Jan 17, 2023

In an interview with CSF, Srivathsan Ramaswamy, Co-founder, Madhi, deliberates on the need for change in the Teaching Learning Material (TLM), challenges in designing quality TLM, and practices to facilitate the adoption of TLM in FLN classrooms.

High-quality teaching and learning materials are essential to provide robust support to teachers and students for effective instruction and improved learning outcomes. In an interview with CSF, Srivathsan Ramaswamy, Co-founder, Madhi, deliberates on the need for change in the Teaching Learning Material (TLM), challenges in designing quality TLM, and practices to facilitate the adoption of TLM in FLN classrooms. 

Srivathsan Ramaswamy, Co-founder, Madhi

Q.1 What are some of the key challenges with existing TLM in India? What changes need to be made to overcome these challenges? 

More than 80% of primary classrooms are multi-grade. This means that a teacher is expected to teach Grades 1, 2, and 3 together at the same time. The primary challenge with textbooks in these cases is that each textbook follows a period and time-on-task allocation that requires the teachers to teach 3 grades simultaneously. Even before the lesson starts, the teacher has to cover the 3x syllabus. 

Hence, the primary teaching learning material needs to speak to this context and reality and allow teachers to teach multi-grade classrooms effectively. An elegant solution to this problem is to provide teaching-learning materials that are based on the learning levels of the children and hence aid effective differentiation during instruction.

Q.2 What are, in your opinion, the top 3 to 5, out of the many available Teaching and Learning Materials, that are indispensable for supporting teachers to ensure learner-centered teaching? 

  • Teacher Handbook – The vision of the content creator/author is very difficult to trickle down to all the teachers in the public education system. Hence, a teacher handbook becomes indispensable in aiding and bridging the communication gap between the author and the user.
  • Manipulatives and Learning tools – No numeracy or literacy lesson is complete without the use of teaching aids that help learners feel, imagine, do and experience the concepts and constructs that are taught to them.
  • Levelled/Differentiated practice materials – Every learner is unique, and so is their learning trajectory. We need practice materials that will cater to these varied needs to maximize time on a task inside the classroom.

Q.3  What were some of the challenges faced by Madhi in designing TLM? How did Madhi overcome these challenges?

  • Different TLM have different challenges based on the pressure points that exist in the system.
    • Teacher Handbook – The most difficult aspect of building buy-in for the Handbook was to ensure that it was scripted and embedded the qualities of structured pedagogy. At the same time, we needed to ensure that the handbook was welcomed and adopted by the teachers. We achieved the first by running a series of pilots since 2016 that helped the State appreciate and understand the need for the same.  We achieved the latter by ensuring that the content for delivery was provided only in the teacher handbook. This ensured that teachers had to use the handbook for delivery. 
    • EE Kit – For the longest time, all manipulatives and kits were provisioned only in the ratio of 1 per school. This resulted in effective usage as it was common property and more often than not – the kits remained locked in the school leader’s room. To overcome this, we knew that the kit had to be provisioned in the ratio of 1 per teacher because provisioning one per classroom was inefficient as 80%of the classrooms were multi-grade. Hence, we developed a level-based EE Kit that had differentiated tools that can be used to teach children at 3 different learning levels, and this kit was provisioned to every teacher in the state. For this provisioning, budgets were allocated across two fiscal years and delivered to the schools in phases.
    • Student Workbook – The primary challenge in the level-based learning model is that it is not possible to provide the same workbook to children belonging to Grades 1 and Grade 3 as it may result in an outcry amongst the teacher and parent communities. Hence, the workbook was layered and provisioned such that the child can use them as they build skills from Level 1 to Level 3. This helped build buy-in with both the parents and the teachers.

Q.4 What are the key practices that facilitated the adoption of Madhi’s TLM in classrooms? 

  • Dialogue – It is critical to engage in rigorous dialogue with the stakeholders you work with and build a deeper understanding along with demand for your ideas.
  • Research – It is critical to back up your recommendations with national and international research and success stories to add credibility to ideas – especially if they challenge the status quo.
  • Listen – While we may have cutting-edge ideas, we may still not have any traction for the same. Imagine if Flipkart started in the 1980s – would it have become a unicorn? Sometimes it is critical to listen to our stakeholders and negotiate a middle ground – a lot of the time these solutions are even more elegant than what you would have initially proposed.



Authored by

CSF Editorial Team

Share this on

Subscribe to our Newsletters
Voices from the ground: Featuring stories of #ClassroomHeroes