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RIVER - Institute for Educational Resources

Rishi Valley Institute for Educational Resources (RIVER) is the teacher training and resource development wing of Rishi Valley Rural Education Centre. It is located on 14 acres of land on the Rishi Valley campus.


After two decades of intense work, RIVER has developed a unique structure for elementary education that consists of a network of Satellite Schools where a community-based curriculum is taught by village youth trained in especially designed multi-level methodologies; where the academic curriculum is graded for individual levels of learning, grounded in up-to-date information, and framed in the local idiom and, finally, where the curriculum is integrated with activities. 

The education kit, a series of carefully graded cards, replaces textbooks in the area of language, mathematics and environmental science. Each card in the graded series is marked with a logo (rabbit, elephant, dog) and mapped on to a subject-specific “Learning Ladder”, a progress guide which traces out the learning trajectory for students.

Spaces on the Ladder are sub-divided into a set of milestones. These milestones consist ofcards that explain a concept;  the applications of the concept;  evaluation of students' understanding and, finally, provide means of testing, remediation orenrichment.

A student identifies her own place on the ladder, and creates, within the broad confines of the milestones,  her own path from grade one to grade five. 

Blank spaces on the ladder allow teachers to introduce independent content into the learning process. Indeed the Ladder can be designed in flexible ways to allow for multiple trajectories between which teachers and students are able to choose so long as the sequencing required by the academic disciplines is maintained.

Students in classrooms work in smaller groups, which are formed along the following lines: there is a teacher-assisted group to which students embarking on a new unit are assigned; peer assisted groups in which more advanced students assist younger ones, and self-learners who work on their own. This Multi-grade, Multi-level (MGML) programme gives students the freedom to learn at their own speed, and teachers time to attend to students; it also encourages cooperation.

The series of cards with its Ladder of Learning also known as 'School in a Box' is supplemented inclassrooms with puppetry, books and study of village life and the natural environment.   Given the rich folk tradition in which our villages are steeped, folk art, folk songs and local stories and legends are also represented in the cards.

RIVER sees education not as a process of trying to bring every student to one homogenized level ordained by textbooks with uniform content.  RIVER believes this practice irons out cultural differences and alienates a student from her own roots. RIVER sees education as a tool for deepening the student's sense of herself, of her traditions and roots, while also exposing her to a wider knowledge base. This community-based model of education incorporates in addition ideals such as tolerance for other cultures, protection of the environment, preservation of folklore and local medicinal traditions.

At the same time, our methods encourage silent self-study and individualized learning, though teacher instruction and group work are also a necessary part of the learning process. The methodology provides ample opportunities for fast learner to progress while allowing slower learners to workat their own pace. Students absent from school do not lose out, as they are able to start from the space in the Learning Ladder where they left off.

The model of rural education provides a viable and attractive alternative to traditional education in villages, where children of the same age belong to widely different levels of learning but are forced to be on the same page by the single teacher.


River's Teacher Education Facilities

RIVER's unique multi-grade, multi-level (MGML) learning methodology for classes 1 to 5 has been extended through the transcreationofmulti-level materials and through teacher educationprogrammes for resource personsto formal and non-formal schools in several of India's linguistically diverse states, such as the states of Tamil Nadu, Chattisgarh, UP, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and in several districts of Andhra Pradesh, where the MGML programmes are referred to as Activity-Based-Learning (ABL) methodologies.

RIVER training facilities on campus include

  • Seven class rooms and a large seminar space that can accommodate up to 50 persons during teaching sessions

  • A well-equipped Library consisting of 5000 books on education, curriculum development and teaching methodologies. The library is available to teachers, children and the village community

  • Two elementary schools, where student teachers can observe and practice the MGML methodology

  • A set of computers, reference books, journals, multi-media equipment and related accessories that can be used for training programmes and workshops

  • Boarding and lodging facilities for trainees. These consist of six independent units with 10 rooms, which can accommodate up to 50 participants; a kitchen with on call staff and a dining space that can accommodate up to 50 people.

We offer a variety of programmes for agencies that wish to learn about the multi-grade, multi-level schools.

  • Three to five dayexposure visits acquaint visitors with an overall sense of the programme.

  • Three-day workshops for administrators provide insights into organizational structure and working of the programme.

  • Fifteen-day workshops for trained teachers give them hands on training in the multi-grade, multi-level methodology (MGML) and orient them in classroom management.

  • Long-term Designers' Workshops for creating multi-grade, multi-level learning materials in languages other than Telugu.

Under the auspices of UNICEF RIVER worked towards a 'Quality Improvement Programme' in six states of India. The methodology is being tested in Mumbai’s municipal corporations schools. The programme has had a significant impact on government schools in Tamil Nadu and Chhatisgarh. 
RIVER supported a group of resource persons from southern Ethiopia to trans-create the 'School in a Box' in their Afar Oromo language.
The systematized process of "trans-creation" requires a team of resource persons -- educators, storytellers, writers, and illustrators -- to work in tandem with the RIVER team. These resource persons ideally are people who are steeped in the culture of their language and who can build upon this rich background to create songs and stories for children.

A World Bank study of the programme is available at 

Tamil Nadu SSA website:

RIVER was declared one of the Top 100 Best NGOs in the world by The Global Journal (published from Geneva and New York) in its January/February 2012 issue. It was ranked 74

For details about cost of participation in workshops please contact

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