The Anandshala program strives to help students stay, engage and learn in school. Through capacity building and advocacy, it works to drive leadership for change at various levels of the education system: school coaches, headmasters, teachers and student parliaments. This project under Anandshala is designed to strengthen the system to tailor its own solutions to the problems of student retention and engagement. It will cater to 90,000 students through student parliaments in 300 middle schools.
Anandshala collaborates with the state and district education department in Samastipur, Bihar, to address the issue of student absenteeism. In the last 6 years, the program has helped reduced dropout rates from 33% to 8%, but absenteeism still remains, with the average attendance rate at 60%. A lack of quality resources, infrastructure, combined with discriminatory social norms, hinders student engagement at school. This stunts 21st century skills in students, which often extends to adulthood.
It will create and nurture ownership opportunities for students via the Bal Sansad (student parliament). Democratically elected, they will identify problems in their schools and undertake change-projects to resolve them with the help of school administrators and / or community. This campaign will support schools with stationery, training, a toolkit and a small fund to help Bal Sansads drive the change they want in their schools, and will aid a more participatory, student-centered engagement.
Bal Sansads link students and school administrators, ensuring that students voices aren't ignored or dismissed. Students learn to express ideas and work collaboratively on projects, encouraging diversity and social awareness. By creating more avenues for participation, students will attend school more regularly, increase engagement with school activities and show improvements in learning levels. We believe students taking ownership of their school is students taking ownership of their learning.