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Nip the phobia in the bud

Analysis paralysis Overcome that scare.   | Photo Credit: Photo: Freepik

If your child is petrified of numbers and math, and you are worried about his or her future, relax, for help is on the way, from an army of women math demon slayers in cities such as Chennai, Bengaluru, Mumbai and Delhi. Preparing this army is Avneet Makkar, an ex-Infosys employee who turned an edupreneur after getting “inspired” by her daughter’s mortal fear of math.

Avneet’s quest for answers led her to have conversations with IT professionals, academics, educators and artificial intelligence scientists. They put their heads together to find a way to teach math in an interesting manner, and to exorcise children of the fear of the subject.

Learning math has to be made a fun activity that sparks creative thinking, sharpens logic, reasoning and problem-solving skills, the group realised, and designed a math education product — beGalileo. Avneet quit her plush job to get into full-time entrepreneurship to float a company, CarveNiche Technologies. “Many experiments, tests and trials were conducted, and we made a soft launch of the product two years ago,” Avneet says.


An after-school math learning programme, beGalileo uses artificial intelligence to track a child’s individual learning curve, to detect the difficulty the child was facing and to find out the exact solution that will help him/her overcome the fear of math. At a beGalileo centre, a diagnostic assessment is made to detect learning gaps, using AI, and take it up from there. The programme is for students from class I to X.

“The more gamified the programme, the more attention of children can be retained,” Avneet explains, adding which is why there is constant updating of the programme to include new activities, games, software, animations and the like. Creating product is one battle, but training teachers to teach the programme is an entirely different ball game, she says, adding that she tapped into her vast network of colleagues from the IT sector, to start with, and then other professionals.

“Many women who quit their jobs to look after their children, are highly qualified and able. So, I wanted to tap into this human resource base. Within no time, we have had an army of excellent teachers who are running their own beGalileo teaching centres in Chennai, Bengaluru, Mumbai and Delhi. At the last count there were 600 centres,” she adds.

Madhupreetha Tekur, 33, is one such entrepreneur, running a beGalileo centre from her Mylapore residence in Chennai. She learnt about the programme through her IT network, and once she explored it for her son, she was hooked.

When learning is fun

“My son used to be confused, but is now confident of math and enjoys the games through which he is taught the subject,” Madhupreetha affirms. She has, at present, six students coming to her every evening, after school.“I am happy that my son does not need assistance in math. He can do it independently, as he now understands the concepts and their application.”

Delhi trails are going on, as is training of teachers who were selected after a basic math test and aptitude test. Those selected will have to go through a month’s training in Bengaluru, after which they are certified to run the beGalileo centres.

The programme comes in a software that can be downloaded onto your computer or laptop. Each person buying the beGalileo programme gets a user name and password. Subscriptions are to be made for updates and new programmes. “Basically, we work with workbooks, but they need to have laptops to practise,” Madhupreetha elucidates. The course content comprises games that develop critical thinking, reasoning, and games based on strategy so that every child becomes a problem-solver.

All the centres in India are on a franchise model, where each teacher enters into a franchise agreement. Now, she has gone international with her math programme. “We have two beGalileo centres in the U.S., in Dallas,” adds Avneet, admitting that there was a strong pull for the programme from Indians there. Though Russian, Chinese and Singapore methods of math teaching is popular, she admitted that Indians wanted their wards to learn math the Indian way. “We want to build over and above procedural maths, and want to become the best math teaching company in the world,” she says.

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Printable version | Jan 15, 2022 9:34:13 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/education/nip-the-phobia-in-the-bud/article27695862.ece

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