It is almost a year that we reached out to you for supporting LOKMITRA to ensure Quality School Education of deprived children attending state government schools in Uttar Pradesh. Given the immensity and complexity of the problem, and the scale of our work being quite small, be rest assure that work of Lokmitra has the potential to stimulate larger change, as it aims to bring change from within, and it can self replicate itself through key stakeholders of teachers and parents with minimal outside support. We are thankful that with your growing support we will be able to stay focussed and strategic.
Teachers being at the center of ensuring quality education, we share the story of Himanshi, a teacher in Bathuakhaas school, who was worried that the majority of children are not taking any interest whatsoever in learning the Hindi letters, so she discussed this problem during the Peer Learning Group Meeting. The other teachers and Lokmitra Staff shared their experience of starting the new chapter by telling the story orally with proper intonations. Followed by reading it from the book paragraph by paragraph and finally using flashcards to learn new words. The same process was also demonstrated in her classroom a few times and when she noticed that there was an increase in participation level of Snehlata and Aryan (who usually remain silent in the class) she also decided that this method deserves a try. She started off by assessing the learning levels of the children and dividing them accordingly. The lesson plans were made in collaboration with other teachers and implemented in the classroom.
Now her hard work has started bearing fruits and other silent students like Pushpa have also started reading simple sentences. Such signs of progress have motivated her and she has it a point to start each chapter of any subject with an oral discussion to bring the previous knowledge of the children in the classroom. Lokmitra’s efforts for Teachers Capacity building give the teachers like Himanshi and 25 other teachers of 6 schools (High Intensity and Focus Schools), new experiences so they become responsible for their learning and can improve the Learning levels of their schools.
You may wonder what stands in the way of teachers being able to deliver quality education. The major issue is with the very poor quality of pre-service teachers' training and selection process. Ill-prepared selected teachers do not receive proper guidance or in-service training. This results in the present learning crisis, especially in the State Government Elementary Schools. In the short run, the only way out of it is to make the teachers responsible for their development which they can do among themselves. The presence of an expert will be an added advantage. Lokmitra is that expert support. Under GlobalGiving School Learning Improvement Program, Lokmitra promotes the formation of school-level ‘Peer Learning Groups’ among them and also supports them by providing inputs in their meetings, suitable TLM and experiences thorough live demo for them to learn. As there are two more stakeholders directly involved in learning improvement of the school, namely children and parents, they are also engaged in several ways so that they can work together for the development of the school.
Presently we are supporting 10 Primary Schools of 5 blocks of Raebareli District, impacting the learning of 1527 children. The selected schools are divided into three categories. Bathuakhaas and Devanandpur schools were chosen as High-Intensity schools (a minimum of 4 visits per month). Ikauna Gokulpur Manchitpur and Balapur are chosen as Focus Schools (a minimum of 2 visits per month) and the rest are Low-intensity schools (1 visit per month).
Our overall activities are also divided into three parts.
Activities for Teacher’s Capacity building – The teachers were engaged on the topic of ‘How to teach Reading’ through different means like Peer Learning Groups of Teachers, one on one academic discussion with teachers, Capacity building Workshop, a live demonstration in the classroom and use of suitable TLM.
Activities for Children – Formation of Bal-Manch or Children Forum, use of Library and morning assembly to catalyze the learning process & Learning assessment of children in classes 3rd to 5th.
Engagement of Parents. – Formation of SMC and Capacity Building of SMC members.
Major outcomes of the effort of this period has been an increase in overall average attendance by 10% (from 60% in the last session to 70% until September 2019).
Other Outcomes -
Importance of Bal-Manch - The children’s Forum
Arun, Shivam, and Tinku who are good friends and always stay together. They are enrolled in grade 3 of the Primary School of Devanandpur but had stopped going to school for the last 1 year. Their case was discussed in the Bal-Manch meeting of July 2019 and it was decided unanimously that the forum should do something to bring them back to school.
The next day 4 members of the children’s forum (Ravi, Anshika, Prince, and Shivi) visited Arun and Shivam’s house and found all three of them playing under a tree nearby.
Anshika – “Why are you people playing here during the school hours?”
Arun – “Why should we? Nobody teaches us there”
Prince – “Now all our teachers teaching us regularly. There is even a games period.”
Shivam – “No we are not coming back!”
The next stop was their house, where the same conversation was repeated with Arun’s Mother and after much deliberation over the next week, finally, she agreed to bring Arun to the school along with her so that there is no chance of him to run away. Shivam and Tinku followed suit and now all three are happy to be back and now are learning new things while enjoying themselves through the new and creative lesson plans prepared in collaboration with Lokmitra staff and the Teachers of the school.
The Children Forum or the Bal-Manch as it is locally called is a democratically selected group of children ( 2 to 4 students from grades 3rd to 5th) who supports the teachers in the overall management of the school like attendance, enrollment, MDM etc as well as in promoting peer learning among children in the classroom.
Library – All the 6 focus schools have an active Library now from where children are also issuing books to read them at their homes. There is also a dedicated period for Library once a week when the responsible teachers take all the children to the library and do some activities based on books like Picture composition and other games.
A total of 157 students of grades 3rd – 5th of four schools were assessed on Hindi and 112 students were assessed on Math in August and September 2019. The main findings of this baseline are as follows: -
Hindi – One-fourth of the children can write a small story (5-6 sentences long) and 41% can read stories.
Math – One-third of students identifies the numbers till 100. Half of them can solve two-digit Addition and Subtraction.
The Midline assessment will take place in December so that we can track the increase in learning levels.
Outcomes of Parents’ Engagement –
The SMC meetings of high-intensity schools are happening each month with the collaboration of SMC head and School Head Teacher. The average attendance in the last three months is 8 parents per meeting. An additional 4-5 non-SMC parents also participate in these meetings at the behest of Teachers.
Mr. Ajay, the SMC head of Devanandpur School provides continuous support to the school as there is a lack of teachers in the school.