School Improvement for Ensuring RTE

Copy of 100_9748Lokmitra initiated its effort with the understanding that the foundation for better governance of elementary education lies in School Based Management, where teachers and parents jointly deliberate the aspects of school education for better future of their children, keeping in mind the requirements of constitutional values and local needs. Along with autonomy of teachers, role of parents is important in ensuring accountability and for linking school education to local concerns. This will lead to the possibility of an effective school that will not wait for government orders to take any initiative.

Accordingly efforts were being made in which SMC were constituted in from 2003, in pre RTE era. Experience of SMC was used in advocacy for suitable provisioning of SMC in Act & Rules of RTE. School Management Committee meeting every month to discuss progress of schools and other upcoming problems in school education. Parents were further empowered through federation of SMC as Parent Association.  Meeting of Parent Association also provided regular mutual learning opportunity.  Lokmitra considers provision of SMC not just for promoting accountability of school, but also for assisting in problem solving at school level and being part of collective effort to promote system’s accountability and systemic change.

Lokmitra endeavoured to provide children better opportunity of learning by promoting their engagement in the process of Knowledge Construction. For this promotes 1) Learning Enriched Environment, 2) Fearless and Equitable learning Opportunities & 3) Activity based Teaching Learning. Pedagogy support extended to schools was through demonstration of innovative & inclusive practices like Morning Assembly, Math’s Day, BAL Mela, School Development Plan, etc. These were getting good acceptance from teacher, thus bringing perceptible change in learning of children. Practice of regular meeting of teachers & other functionaries of schools to resolve the managerial and academic issues of schools was introduced.  Head teachers were encouraged to take leadership to move schools as per School Development Plan.

Oxfam India PACS (DFID) SRTT(up to June 2013) Total
Project District Raebareli  & Amethi Lucknow, Amethi & Pratapgargh Raebareli & Amethi Four Disticts
Project Block Raebareli Town, Rahi & Salon Lucknow City, Chhatoh & Lalganj Harchandpur, Sataon & Dih Rural Block – 7Urban Area – 2
Project Staff 12 17
School Total 210 150 150
School Intensive Support 30 50 30

Before 2011, direct support extends to about 50 schools. During 2011 Lokmitra developed new understanding.  Lokmitra team adopts a judicious mix of direct interface with school teachers and indirect engagement through SMC members and promotes an Activity System within school. Dialogue with teachers empathises with their situation in which they get de-motivated and they find teaching not so effective and not giving them joy. It is suggested that with new set of activity system, teachers can initiate change in school and slowly teaching will become interesting for them and children. Idea & value of collective responsibility for ensuring each child’s right to learn and need for collaborative learning for teachers, parents and children is explained. Teachers are encouraged to observe each other’s teaching and prepare case study of children for collective reflection in weekly meeting. Children of a class get divided in small learning groups for adoption of collaborative & activity based learning. Group representatives of all grades come together to form Children’s Forum (BAL Manch), thus giving children get engaged for school improvement. SMCs are oriented to support teachers as well as dialogue with them on the basis of their observation and what they listen from children. Direct dialogue with teachers tries to promote teachers appreciation of role of SMC in local problem solving, thus addressing the negative attitude of teachers, towards SMC, children and parents. PTM for each Grade enables both parents and teachers to jointly better understand the child and discuss suitable approach for promoting child’s learning. SMC is supported in becoming positive contributors despite its limitation. In many instances initial push for change needs to come from parent members of SMC through monthly meetings of SMC.

Activity System in a School has been depicted in this Diagram. Description is provided in Publication and Knowledge Product Section.

School Improvement Activity System Concept Map 2012
School Improvement Activity System Concept Map

With the adoption of this practice Lokmitra is facilitating school improvement in better manner. This is evident in good progress in some schools. Some major achievements have been as follows.  

Considerable progress has been made in making children’s voice heard by PRI, Teachers, SMC & Parents through Bal Manch. Now Lokmitra has suitable learning materials and lesson plan for teachers on Hindi Language teaching and same is getting effectively used schools. There has been visible progress in promoting reflective learning among teachers. SMC is now able to suggest possible solutions for school level problems.

Progress in Primary School Sointha, Manpur Sahawa, Chaturbhujpur & Pure Kallu goes to the suitable support provided to SMC and Teacher Group of the school. This testifies that new activity system and approach of Hindi language teaching, along with requitise on hand support may go long way in improving the effectiveness of school in ensuring learning of all children.

Badri is chairperson of Kauha School SMC. Every week he comes to school and interacts with children, takes some play activities, tell stories and also observes children, teachers (in their group meeting). He even did the flag hoisting on 15th August and 26th January. Another women member Alia Bano assists him in the effort. Two assistant teachers were transferred in Aug 2012. Four SMC members met BEO, demanding teachers. Then school got one teacher. In teachers group meetings he takes up issue of how to provide learning opportunity to enrolled 220 children with 1 regular & 2 Para Teachers. Due to his initiative, children’s groups have been formed and encouraged for cooperative learning. He mobilises other SMC members to bring TLM material. School has been able to maintain 80% attendance.  SMC took up the issue of locked Toilet with Gram Pradhan and got it unlocked. But then toilet got dirty. Then Safai Karmchari was persuaded to clean school & Toilet.

In Matka School, regular meeting of SMC was a challenge. Members were mobilised to come to cluster level meetings of and learn from each others experience. Now SMC members of Matka are able to organise regular meeting of SMC on a fixed date. Now teachers realiz that SMC is not just for their monitoring. SMC ha helped in improving the school attendance.

—In Schools of Kallander, children of class one & six didn’t get Scholarship Money. Girdharilal, Chairperson of JHS SMC, pursued it with school teachers, Gram Pradhan. Got information from district officials and pursued Gram Pradhan to distribute Scholarship.

In school Manpur Sahawa, SMC members like Shanti, Rambahadur attended trainings organised by Lokmitra and understood the issue of quality education. In SMC meeting they asked teachers about what has been said in RTE act on quality of education. Teachers told them and explained how with the support of Lokmitra they are taking language teaching, group activity etc. Teachers encouraged them to go to class room and see the teaching process.

—In one SMC meetings, Teachers shared the school maintenance budget and jointly decided its use. It was decided that height of ‘Hari Patti’ should be increased. On holiday, when painter was not doing it properly, he was stopped by SMC chairperson. Later teacher came to know and guided the painter. Now Children have got good space to draw and write. School has functional toilet.

Primary School Chaturbhuj Pur is now in better position with improved language teaching and children’s attendance of 75%. SMC member got training in March and started appreciating the importance of activity based teaching. New SMC got further empowered in May when Lokmitra mobilised SMC to organise a meeting of all parents (Shiksha Sabha) and discuss issue of school development. Before this meeting adolescent children did the survey of children. A few OoSC were asked to present their view of good school. Giving school a better start with Bal Mela etc was discussed. In June SMC met (even if school was closed) and did detail planning for better start of school session. They met ward members for getting school cleaned, preparation of MDM, etc. SMC members took up issue of activity based teaching, objected to occasional beating children. In parallel Lokmitra supported teachers in improving language teaching that meets the multi level needs of children. Lokmitra had prepared a document on language teaching and lesson plan on selected chapters.

To improve the accountability of SMC and involve larger parent body in school improvement and promoting children’s right to education, Lokmitra is promoting the idea of six monthly All Parent Meeting (called Shiksha per Gram Sabha) at school level where SMC is encouraged to presents is effort and plan, seek the opinion of parents and OoSC and other irregular children. 

  • Cluster Level SMC meet initiated to ensure that SMC gets reconstituted in proper manner in 400 schools of project area. About 650 SMC members participated in 13 Cluster. Meeting was conducted by 10 Parent Association members.

In select school demonstrating possibilities of government schools delivering high quality, inclusive education. There has been excellent progress in providing teachers suitable lesson plan for language teaching. This has been highly appreciated by teachers. About 18 schools (out of 30) have adopted it. More importantly practice of Teachers Reflective Learning Meeting at school level has got well initiated and found useful. Teachers discuss children’s case study and observation of each other’s teaching. In most schools, attendance is above 75%. In some reaching up to 90%. School Children has been involved in identifying OoSC and getting them enrolled.

  • Hindi & Maths Text Book of Grade I to V was reviewed and recommendation made to SCERT & SSA. There is indication that some of important suggestions are being considered.
  • Team has better appreciation of CCE and some support has been extended to some schools.

Challenges and way to address them in promotion of Learning system & other practices – Introducing a reflective learning system among teachers groups in schools has been an important approach for improving the functioning of school and quality of education. While there have been some successes in a few schools, there is apprehension that it may falter as there is difficulty in preparing children’s case study by staff & they are not able to support teachers in preparing case study. Due to lack of team cohesiveness, teachers’ are hesitant in observing each other’s teaching. So during current year, effort will be made to enhance the capacity of staff in dialoguing with children for preparing case study and in organising team building workshop with teachers. Meanwhile staff will encourage teachers to share their teaching process, progress, difficulty, observation etc.

  • During long vacation in summer & winter months, providing learning facility to children of grade 4 & 5 will enable them to retain and enhance their learning. This will further motivate teacher to change their perception on children’s learning ability and also encourage children to gain confidence to their ability and thus enhancing willingness to not to dropout after grade 5. So arranging local volunteers and providing support to volunteers will for this will be useful.
  • Having a village based children’s collective will assist in bring children of different schools together for collective issues like child labour, facility to play, identification of OoSC, promoting regular attendance, other child rights & development issues etc.
  • Getting teachers ready for Social Audit is difficult, especially when teachers are already facing pressure from SMC on some issues. Otherwise it enables better assessment and finding of finer issues.
  • —   Government & Officials passes all the blame on teachers. There is little effort to improve the functioning and accountability of government system.
  • —   Anticipated reaction of some key officials, especially at district & block level, makes us less pro active in further strengthening the voice of parents.
  • —   Issues of wrong practices being imposed on teachers by higher officials, irrational distribution of teachers.
  • —   Shortage of teachers and delay in recruitment due to poor management, load of non academic work on teachers.
  • —   More synergy and concerted effort required in CSO led advocacy effort.  

Turning Mirrors into Windows (A video on work of Lokmitra on Oxfam India web site)