Lokmitra, from 2012 became exclusively education focused organisation. It has been a long journey with conscious choice to focus in one sector so that with deep understanding, organization is able to play strategic role in the sector. From mid of last decade Lokmitra withdrew from Local Self Governance, SHG and ECCD. Only engagement with Brick Kiln worker families continued till 2011. As a result of such strong strategic choice, Lokmitra has been very efficient and effective in education sector, despite limitation of financial and human resources. Lokmitra has diversified team, with vast experience in most aspect of education. With the accumulation of organisational knowledge, now Lokmitra is in a position, where it can diversify in related sector, without compromising the the quality of its work in education sector.
Education program of Lokmitra has evolved with the support of SRTT and Oxfam Novib. Over the years LOKMITRA has been able to evolve its strategy and fine-tune its practices so as to effectively engage with Elementary Education System of Uttar Pradesh in multi-pronged and multi-level manner for engendering change, from within with new ideas and practices that could be further adopted by the system & its key stakeholders, for wider change. Effort at micro-macro level has been to promote through multi stakeholder dialogue and group learning. Parent members of SMCs & Teachers are being mobilised as change agent. Lokmitra has over the years developed activity system for promoting improvement in school from within. Lokmitra engages with parents/community, teachers & children so that they work together as learning group to face school level challenges and work for school improvement.
Lokmitra understands that for better governance of elementary education, changes are required in policy, planning, administration and management of education so decentralization and participation is promoted. Government should initiate the process of change by preparing a draft plan of extensive change. Then extensive discussions on this draft are conducted in groups of teachers, educationists, officers, peoples’ representatives and with parents as well. This way the draft of change will become better and the ground will be ready for implementation of those changes. Education system has strong linkage with social and political system. But there is generally lack of political will for education of deprived children with comparable quality. Secondly value system of well to do section of society doesn’t work in favour of deprived children’s education.
Education Program is guided by following Understanding of Education
- Conception of School has been historically an important event that subsumes the importance of a place where knowledge and wisdom of humanity is passed on from one generation to the younger generation in a way that prepares them to re evaluate, recreate that knowledge in present context for newer challenges faced by humanity. School can gives equal opportunity to all for learning and growth that is not possible if children stay with respective families.
- Elementary education of all children is essential for social transformation imbued with democratic values, equity & justice, as has been aimed in Indian Constitution.
- Society is not homogenous. It has hierarchies created by attitudes & behaviours of people resulting in differentiated groups of people categorized on race, caste, class, gender. School shouldn’t end up becoming the carrier of knowledge of only those that are up in the hierarchy ladder and ignoring the life experiences and challenges for those at the bottom rung. To rule this out school education should make special effort to involve marginalized communities. It is a challenging task for a diverse and pluralistic society of ours.
- Lokmitra follows the Learning Principle suggested in National Curriculum Framework 2005. According to it each Child will construct its own Knowledge, based on its experiences. Role of Teacher is to provide children stimulating learning environment and facilitate children’s learning. Children have natural curiosity to know the world.
- Use of Mental Mapping, Concept Mapping assists adults in better learning. It can also be used in planning learning session. Being able to dialogue, helps in effective learning.
Growing appreciation of Dialogue, Effective group process has immensely helped the organization to abreast the challenge in improving quality concern in state government schools. More importantly, Lokmitra team got exposed to ideas and practices that revolve around promoting learning community, especially that of Prof Manabu Sato, of University of Tokyo. He has been engaged in the challenge to reform schools from the inside. Evolving work of Lokmitra had is very much moving in that direction and with the knowledge of his work, Lokmitra finds itself in much deeper clarity. So a summary of idea and practice as has evolved to bring change from within is given in the annexure and same is getting following currently and Lokmitra intends to pursue it further in proposed project.
To promote systemic change, Lokmitra continues to believe and pursue in evolving collective of deprived parents’ and concerned teachers. Deprived Parents have real stake in improving the government elementary education system. They can be mobilized for such objectives whose benefit comes in long term. A critical mass of Teachers could become change agents as they want to be proud teachers with sense of responsibility. Education is a complex subject (both conceptually and managerially), but most people have some experience of it, some opinion about it. As we move along, we need to build consensus, with deeper understanding among diverse set of people. Family spaces themselves are many times not so democratic and conducive for mental and emotional development of the child. Space for Childhood in the families also sets the aspiration of parents from schools and additional challenges for the schools. Children bring some discriminatory notions to schools.
Enactment of Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act 2009 from 1st April 2010 ushered Lokmitra in a new legal reality that had its own challenges. Lokmitra has taken a dynamic view of current situation and it is still hopeful to invest on processes that will pave the way for next round of legislative changes and redefining of development priorities. For the first time a large numbers of parents will get mobilized through SMCs. SMCs can be facilitated to federate at Cluster and Block level to carve space for their mutual learning (rather being dependent on government machinery) and learn how to make government machinery and legislatures accountable.