It all started with a single trip to India…
In 2005, Clary Castrission and Karyn Avery, two uni students from Sydney, took a holiday to India that would change their lives forever. Upon witnessing firsthand the devastating impact of extreme poverty affecting so many children, Clary and Karyn’s life took a complete departure from the career trajectories they were on.
Clary and Karyn believed that education would transform the lives of these children, opening up opportunities to change and shape their own futures. They naively figured that they only needed $40K to build a school for a community outside Bangalore, and so they formed a small Australian charity called the 40K Foundation to fundraise for the project. Five years and $400,000 later, the Banyan School opened its doors to its first children. Had it not been for Clary and Karyn’s tireless work, the 350 children who are currently enrolled at the school might still be spending their days in a nearby quarry with their parents.
In October 2010, the 40K Foundation together with their project partner, The Lovedale Foundation, officially opened the Banyan school providing education to severely underprivileged kids from the local villages and nearby granite quarry of Bangalore. Since the school opened, Lovedale has done a phenomenal job in building the school from the inside out.
The Banyan School was a clear demonstration of our organisation’s ability to commit to and deliver a project successfully in the Indian environment. But, the Banyan School was just the beginning for us…
Our Journey, So Far...
We opened the Banyan School on the outskirts of Bangalore
A wonderful yet costly exercise with limited reach. In moving forward, we knew that if we wanted to extend our reach to thousands more kids, then building schools was not going to be the answer.
We established our first “pod” in a small village in India
These community-based after-school learning centres filled an identifiable need in underserved villages. However, there were not enough adequately trained or skilled teachers to deliver lessons.
We introduced Plus English to support English language learning
The technology innovation compensated for the English teaching skills deficit and improved children’s learning outcomes. But, the setup costs were high and the program was hard to scale through the pod system.
We piloted an in-school delivery model in India & Cambodia
Delivering the program in schools proved easier to scale and also helped to address deficiencies within the local school systems. We quickly realised that this was the way forward.
We signed an MoU with the Cambodian government
This allowed us to expand the program to 250 schools (approximately 50,000 students) across the Cambodian countryside. We were on track to reach the target number of schools, but then COVID-19 hit…
We began supplementing in-school delivery with remote learning
We developed an English literacy learning podcast series and assisted the Cambodian government to set up a podcast channel for which we provided content. This helped to keep children engaged in learning during COVID-related school closures.
We changed our name & expanded our geographic reach
As our program once again took off in Cambodia as schools reopened, we expanded our geographic reach to east Indonesia. And, on the back of feedback from our key stakeholder groups, we rebranded as Plus Education, reflecting how far we’ve come.
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About Plus Education
Plus Education is the group operating name of registered Australian charity, The 40K Foundation Australia Ltd, and its subsidiary organisations, 40K Plus Education in India and Cambodia.
We are committed to child safety and creating a safe learning environment for children.
This month, Plus Education officially turns 10! To commemorate the milestone and the start of our registered organisational status ten years ago in India, our CEO Swetha Prakash has penned a few words reflecting on our journey and achievements over the years.