A decade old effort of Lokmitra has contributed to improvement in education system. Effort initiatedwith grassroots mobilization, has grown to become multi level and multipronged, mobilizing parents, teachers and CSOs for collective effort. Deprived Parents have real stake in improving the government elementary education system. Parents are being mobilized as collectives for engaging with education system, from school to District & State level. Federating School Management Committee at Block level by bringing together selected Parent Members of SMC at Block level for collective learning and voice. Teachers also can become change agents as they want to be proud teachers with sense of responsibility. A critical mass of Teachers are being mobilized at School & Blocks level, so that they grow as Learning Community, collectively reflecting to improve their teaching practice, trying to ensure that each child’s learning gets ensured. Effort and voice of these teachers will influence the system from within. To bring about change at school level, collective effort by Parents and Teachers is promoted through effective functioning of School Management Committee. Children’s are also involved through BalManch (Children’s Parliament) activity. Innovative practices at school level, leading to school improvement, will influence the system for change. School with get support for improving it self as there would be collective demand for improved academic & resource support.
Education system has strong linkage with social and political system. Teachers transfer posting, or quality of school infrastructure are strongly influenced by political system that operates. 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. Family spaces themselves are many times not so democratic and conducive for mental and emotional development of the child.
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.
Engageing with education system, Lokmitra has developed following insights.
- Parents want to educate their children. If children are not regular in school then somewhere school is not able to fulfill the needs of children. There is lack of suitable learning environment that promotes meaningful learning. Special opportunities are required for the first generation learner children.
- Contrary to perception of many teachers, children coming to schools, have the capacity and motivation to learn. Children need an encouraging environment without fear or punishment.
- The morale of teachers becomes weak in a system controlled and managed from above. Teachers’ accountability should be towards parents in place of reporting towards above. Parents assume that school belongs to distant government.
- All the solutions for betterment of school are not at school level. So intervention should systemic, covering all components and related systems, at all levels.
- Any educational intervention should promote collective dialogue for within and in between key stakeholders, so as to promote better understanding and suitable action. Any intervention implanted from outside, or carried out as add on, will have little chance to get integrated or meet the purpose.
Ways to move ahead
- For better governance of elementary education changes are required in policy, planning, administration and management of education so that decentralization and participation is promoted.
- To initiate the process of change, it is required that in the course of reviewing education system from the point of view of policy and implementation, a draft for extensive change be prepared. Extensive discussions on this draft 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.