Thursday, November 20, 2008

Infosys exhorts employees to go on 1-yr sabbatical, work for NGOs

India’s second-largest information technlogy services provider, Infosys Technologies, has issued letters to its employees stating they could opt for a one-year sabbatical to engage themselves in philanthropic activities. They would continue to draw 50 per cent of their salary during the period. Infosys crossed the 100,000-employee mark in India in the quarter ended September 30, 2008.

The company said that while the move may have coincided with the global financial turmoil and slowing growth rates of IT firms, it should be perceived as a pure voluntary act by employees who are prompted by altruistic motives and inspired by the example of its chairman and chief mentor, NR Narayana Murthy.

The employees, an internal memo said, need to be on the company rolls for at least two consecutive years before they are eligible for the offer and a panel comprising senior members of the Infosys leadership team will decide each case. “This policy will promote volunteerism among employees and we believe that the value and benefits arising from it will have an impact on community, the employees and ultimately, the company,” it said.

Sources said that the policy came into force only a few days back and the company is working out the finer points like whether the employees will be given any salary or emolument during the sabbatical. However, it is understood that the company is planning to pay some amount of the salary, while the rest the employees can earn from the NGO they are working for.

An Infosys spokesperson confirmed the development: “We introduced this policy almost two months back, which allows the employees to go on up to one year of sabbatical to engage in philanthropic activities. All the employees have been communicated the policy internally.” When asked how much the employees will be paid during that time, the spokesperson said they will be given 50 per cent of the salary, while the other half will be given by the respective NGOs they work with.

“It’s a part of Narayana Murthy’s desire to give back to the society, which is driven by the fact that many employees quit their jobs to pursue philanthropic activities. This would give such employees an option to pursue their hobby while still continuing with the jobs, even if they will be paid a small amount by the company. The employees can go out with a cut in their salaries, even though the final details are being worked out by the company,” a source close to the development told Business Standard.

POSTED from the Business Standard

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Speak Out - Make A Difference is a Global Competition Finalist!

The numbers were so baffling that I had to read them over and over again to convince myself that in fact, they were true, and no it was not time yet to change my specs again….

521 entries from 61 countries… And the MAKE A DIFFERENCE project has been picked as one of the 15 finalists…

After convincing myself, (and reading again), I realized that this was no fluke…

We were finally being accepted for the work that we do…

The Staples Youth Social Entrepreneur Competition’s purpose is to discover and recognise creative, inspiring ways in which young people are changing the world….

And as a BHUMIan, the fact that we got picked from among several hundred deserving nominations from around the world, is a matter of immense pride… If you’re a Bhumi volunteer, I’m pretty sure you’re feeling euphoric too…

Anyhow, the competition isn’t done yet.. Go to to vote for the most deserving candidate….

Check out MAKE A DIFFERENCE, COCHIN's Voting Made Easy section for more detailed info on how to vote…

Three Cheers for everyone at MAD Cochin & MAD Pune as well :)

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Speak Out: Flash Card Games

1.Crisscross Bingo:

Materials Required:

1.Bingo board - a grid with:
Rows - Verbs from the verb set assigned;
Columns - Subject (I/He/She/It/We/They)
2. Pair of dice –
Verbs and Subject on each

How to Play:

Step 1: A child rolls the dice

Step 2: He/She makes a sentence with the combination

Dice 1: He; Dice 2: Walk
Sentence: He walks to school

Step 3: On the bingo board, the child needs to write his/her name in the grid that corresponds to He and Stand. The first child to make a straight line (like cross and naught) is the winner.

The dices and board are available on:

2.Memory game: Cards placed face down.A child tries to match a picture with its corresponding flash card.Kids were so excited that they decided to complicate it further by shuffling the order after each chance!! So it took some time to finish the game.

After making a right pair, the child has to say the substitution chart with actions for that verb.

3."Stop!! Thats mine!": This game is played one at a time. A child is given a picture card. The remaining cards (9) are put down one after another by the moderator. The child needs to hit and say STOP when his/her picture's flash card is put down.

4. "Make your pair": Picture cards (P) should be separated from flash cards (F) and shuffled. Every child is given 1P and 1F.A child starts the game by putting down a F card.The next child, picks it up, chooses to retain, drops another/same F card.The game goes on till one manages to find his/her pair.

NOTE: The picture card should be retained throughout the game!

During all games, children were asked to make sentences with a subject(he/she/you) + verb.

Cross posted from the BHUMI, Chennai Blog

Training for Speak Out Volunteers

Make a Difference (MAD), Cochin has played an invaluable role in shaping Speak Out. While BHUMI identified orphanages to start this project at, MAD brought The Teacher Foundation (TTF, Bangalore). The aim was to equip Bhumians with methodologies, ideas, and tips to make these English classes interactive and energetic. Little experience in teaching made this training mandatory for all our Speak Out volunteers. BHUMI will always be grateful to MAD for bringing one of the best and experienced trainers in the country.

Due to a large strength, the trainers decided to split the group into two batches (of 30 each). The two-day training programme was nothing like long, monotonous lectures. Volunteers were on their feet throughout the session, playing every activity that we would be taking back to our classrooms. In the 8-hour classes, volunteers dirtied their hands with fabric paint, composed jazz tunes, mimed short plays, and actively participated in group discussions. This way they were able to relate to the possible outcomes of implementing these activities with their batch of children.

Feedback from a few volunteers:

“I honestly thought it would be some kind of theory session where someone would teach us how to teach! I had loads of fun and felt really childish after a really long time!! Plus learnt and lot and got a better perspective to the classes.”

What the training could have offered in addition: “A syllabus, in the sense, in school we were taught nouns first and then verbs and so on. So, a certain order alone can be given. Otherwise, it was great! :)”
- Uma Sekar, Volunteering at Dr.P.V.Rao School

“I expected to get a lot more ideas on teaching and handling overactive kids! It would be great if we got a syllabus from TTF or we could have a discussion with them about how much our children know and we can accordingly get a syllabus for each standard.”
- Deepthi Ravichandran, Volunteering at Avvai Home

“I hoped the training will be fun, because I was apprehensive that it was two full days, also being weekends. But, the class was actually lot of fun as well as learning! It was a good experience; It gave me an opportunity to learn the teaching methods.”
- Karthik Venugopal, Teach India Volunteer, Avvai Home

Unfortunately, we had a few practical difficulties in implementing this system. Most of our children, both from lower and higher classes, lacked basic knowledge in the subject. A small percentage of children (age no exception!) had problems identifying alphabets. Such a scenario compelled a change in the direction we had planned to adopt.

In addition, a syllabus was necessary to take structured classes. Two teachers with decades’ experience – Ms. Malathy and Ms. Prema, were introduced to BHUMI. The first workshop conducted by them provided volunteers with not just more tools but also a syllabus that revolves around ‘Drilling and Repetition’. The academic year has now been split into terms (3 months each). Starting from simple present and past, the course would gradually roll out into a more advanced one. Care has been taken to ensure that volunteers retain the original ‘learn-through-activities’ system.

Every term ends with a feedback session to discuss problems faced by volunteers during the term and syllabus for the next. The terms to come will start focussing on content from school textbooks, so that children start experiencing the benefits as soon as possible.

Cross posted from the BHUMI, Chennai Blog