Education  India Project #18237

Help 28,000 Indian Children Get Quality Education

by Teach For India
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Help 28,000 Indian Children Get Quality Education
Help 28,000 Indian Children Get Quality Education
Help 28,000 Indian Children Get Quality Education
Help 28,000 Indian Children Get Quality Education
Help 28,000 Indian Children Get Quality Education
Help 28,000 Indian Children Get Quality Education
Help 28,000 Indian Children Get Quality Education
Help 28,000 Indian Children Get Quality Education
Help 28,000 Indian Children Get Quality Education
Help 28,000 Indian Children Get Quality Education
Help 28,000 Indian Children Get Quality Education
Help 28,000 Indian Children Get Quality Education
Help 28,000 Indian Children Get Quality Education
Help 28,000 Indian Children Get Quality Education
Help 28,000 Indian Children Get Quality Education
Help 28,000 Indian Children Get Quality Education
Help 28,000 Indian Children Get Quality Education
Delhi Fellow
Delhi Fellow

During the last quarter of 2020-21, we witnessed our Fellows and Students return to classrooms safely and courageously. At the beginning of March, it was heartening to see the students, who we were able to reach, receive 18 hours of instructional time per week – almost double, compared to December. In some of our schools in Hyderabad, between February and mid-March, we witnessed a spike in the attendance of our students in physical classes from 40% to 70%. In Delhi, the increase was even more pronounced - from 12% to 95% attendance.

Given current circumstances - rising cases and increased restrictions, we are back to virtual spaces to ensure that our students bridge the learning gap. We are focusing on the safety of our community, and resuming relief operations to support the families in need.

 

At an organization level , we are seeing progress in the wellbeing & engagement metrics we track:

• Wellbeing: 97% of our students (who are reachable) are healthy, feel safe or have ration at home

• Instruction hours: Our students are receiving an average of 18 hours of synchronous and asynchronous learning

• Attendance and Engagement:

72% of our students are able to access learning through blended experiences

68% of our students are attending at least 1 synchronous class per week

58% of our students are engaging with at least one asynchronous packet each week

 

With our experience of about a year of virtual and hybrid teaching, we have observed the following best practices:

• Enrolling parents as equal partners in the learning journey

As students spend more time at home, the role of parents in mediating learning has become increasingly important. In classrooms where student attendance to online spaces engagement with learning material was high, we noticed that Fellows had spent a significant portion of time investing parents. In these classrooms, Fellows co-created goals with parents, created structures to consistently update parents on their child's performance and created multiple spaces to interact with parents both virtually and in - person (wherever it was safe enough).

• Creating a conducive schedule for learning

There are multiple factors that influence student attendance, engagement and learning in a blended environment. Some of these are

1. Availability of the device during the day

2. The Student’s schedule at home

3. Level of independence of the Student

4. Consistency of support at home

Keeping these factors in mind, creating an optimum schedule for learning for the week was one of the most important practices with blended instruction. Classrooms with high levels of attendance, engagement and learning often had weekly schedules specifically created to address the above factors. Students were called in different shifts based on the availability of devices. Fellows took intentional calls about what material needed to be done synchronously and asynchronously based on the nature of the content and the Students' ability to learn independently. Some Fellows ensured that Students had opportunities to learn in smaller groups and some leveraged the support of volunteers to ensure that students had more touchpoints through the week.

Our Fellows have truly stepped up to overcome the challenges that the pandemic brought:

With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns, our Fellows pivoted to the virtual realm with astonishing agility and urgency, enabling many of our students to continue learning. While anything we say will fall short of their stupendous efforts, here are some stories as testaments to their unyielding spirit.

In March, Fellows in Chennai with the appropriate and recommended safety procedures conducted in-person meetings with their students’ parents to emphasize the need for attendance in virtual classrooms. The importance of online classes, the role parents play in bridging the educational gap, mental health, and what asynchronous and synchronous classes mean were some of the topics covered.

Megha, a 2020 Delhi Fellow, has been taking classes in two distinct parks since January to ensure that all children in her classroom can access in-person classes. She regularly travelled about 2.5 hours to reach these locations.

In early March, Ahmedabad conducted the first in-person space for Fellows. They did community visits where they spoke to parents, community leaders, Headmasters, and children.

Ahmedabad Fellow
Ahmedabad Fellow
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Learning in small groups - Pune
Learning in small groups - Pune

In light of schools being shut for most of this year, we shifted to blended learning almost six months ago. Since then, we have made progress in procuring hardware for students who lack access and engaging them in online and offline spaces of learning. We have continued to face significant hurdles on the way but we are witnessing accelerating change for students.

 

Keeping our kids learning

We are measuring our progress in classrooms across wellbeing, attendance, and engagement. As an organization, we are now focusing on getting accurate and complete data from Fellows to help us understand what is working and what is not in blended learning.

At an organization level:

-   We have 28,880 kids with us as of January 2021, out of which 24,409 are reachable (85%)

-   94% of our students (who are reachable) are healthy, feel safe and have ration at home

-   Our students are receiving 13 hours/week of synchronous and asynchronous learning time*

-   69% of reachable students have access to learning through blended experience

-   63% of reachable students are attending at least one sync space per week

-   52% of reachable students are engaging with at least one async packet per week

 

Implementation of Blended Learning in classrooms

-   Synchronous instructional time has gone up from an average of 5 hours to 8 hours a week

-   Professional development to onboard all Fellows on blended learning : We hosted 8 Weeks of training modules which had a mix of synchronous learning materials (SYNC - everyone learning together online) and asynchronous learning materials (ASYNC - self-paced managed materials and assignments). The Elementary Fellows learnt and taught 4 content areas: Reading Fluency, Reading Comprehension, Writing & Math while the secondary Fellows had Reading, Writing, Math & Science or SST.

-   The 8Cs of the new Leadership Development Journey (LDJ) were embedded into the training module of the 2020 cohort.

-   2020 Fellows had continued support after Institute through ‘Institute Lite’.

-   Different blended learning as well as content support workshops/ trainings were held at the city level for all Fellows.

-   We advocated with key schools and governments to make systemic changes based on our learnings.

Example in Bangalore, Teach For India worked with a symposium of NGOs to share its work on blended learning and resources in a combined offering to the Karnataka state education department. We also contributed to a paper on online learning published by partner organizations Whitefield Ready and Inventure Academy. This paper was also shared with the department. In August, the Karnataka government initiated the Vidyagama programme which incorporated many aspects of blended learning, including meeting children in small numbers to distribute asynchronous learning material supplemented by online teaching. Currently, we have the second version of the programme running that has additionally allowed children from Grades 6-10 to attend school in small numbers for a few hours and directed teachers to share asynchronous material to complement this learning.

 

We continue to face the following challenges in Blended Learning Implementation

1. Reality of the students we serve: 

33% lack stable internet connection

15% have migrated/not reachable

35% have required food/financial relief during lockdown

2. Current reality of access and well-being: 

40% of students have restricted access to a device for at least 3-4 hours of learning each day

11% of students do not have access to any device 

3-4% of our students require support for their physical, emotional or mental well being

3. For more than a century, schools have been the hub for learning. With schools now being shut, investment in education has dropped. We now have to battle the limitations of home infrastructure and other competing priorities to ensure that children do not drop out of school.

4. The economic impacts of the pandemic on low-income families and also the ensuing migration has forced kids to move away from their school cities and support the family by working jobs.

5. Small home spaces, limited infrastructure, multiple family members, etc. has resulted in a highly unpredictable schedule for kids.

6. The pandemic also created security concerns for parents to allow students to say, gather in small study groups or to share devices.

7. The pandemic has made it unsafe for Fellows to visit communities and effectively engage with students and parents.


Firki InspirED
In the month of October, Firki and Teach For India hosted inspirED 2020, a five-day virtual conference where students, teachers, sector leaders, parents, and others came together to reimagine education.
The 100+ inspirED sessions including keynote addresses, masterclasses, and panel discussions addressed many such questions and initiated discourse around the education landscape of India for the coming decade.


COVID-19 Safety Precautions before in-person class
COVID-19 Safety Precautions before in-person class

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The Education Sector in India has been hit by two waves in the last few months -
- The COVID-19 pandemic that disrupted schools, and
- New Education Policy 2020 that lays the guidelines for a reimagined education after 30 years.  

We believe, teachers and educators should be at the forefront of these conversations and hence we wanted to provide a platform to bring together educators and other stakeholders to understand the implications of The New Education Policy 2020, celebrate teachers, build communities of practice towards blended learning, connect with world-class teaching practices and experts, and advocate for collective action towards the National Education Policy 2020.

With all of us pivoting to a virtual world, we’ve been inundated by online education conferences and ways to learn virtually. A lot of us have also spent time asking important questions. How will our children learn this year? How do we balance well-being with learning outcomes? How do we upskill our teams with new skills? We've also been thinking about the New Education Policy 2020 and its many promises and hopes. With all this in mind, in the first week of October, we launched a national conference - inspirED 2020 - a space to dive into these discussions and together reimagine education.

Over the 5 days of the conference, we engaged with diverse stakeholders to dive into the priorities of the National Education Policy 2020, attended live masterclasses with some of our Fellow classrooms who are experimenting successfully with blended learning to zooming out and hearing from world-renowned experts like Bill Drayton, Jacqueline Novogratz, Shashi Tharoor and many more. We were amongst students, educators, policymakers, parents, and funders. We listened to each other. We held diverse perspectives. We tried to find a synergy to act collectively towards an excellent education for all our 260 million school children. The inspirED2020 conference hosted more than 100 speakers from various backgrounds.

The session revolved around the following themes over the 5 days - 

Listen and Learn - Listen to and learn from educators and diverse stakeholders on issues of great relevance in the education sector today. 

Dream Together - We will hold spaces to unleash our creativity and imagination on what education can look like in the future and dream together to create a new vision of education for India. 

Act together - We will together build a collective commitment through a series of white papers on our learning and recommendations to implement our vision.

These sessions ranged from a student teaching a magnificent masterclass on visual story-telling using hand-drawn anime to leaders sharing deep insights on what and how they've learned. With a focus on taking the NEP to action, 13 partners released 12 white papers, documents that intend to provide tangible guidance on how to take concrete topics like teacher development program, parent investment and school leadership, and propel them into action. Teach For India also published three papers- 

Blended Learning: A Digital Equalizer

Child protection and safety in schools 

Building 21st Century Skills and Leadership in Students

A specially designed website for the conference, lists the schedule for these 5 days, the speakers that we hosted, our partner organizations and gives access to the white papers published.

We also released the first version of India & I, our open-source curriculum, which was attended and co-led by students, demonstrating that as the stakeholder with the greatest stake, they must be at the table of reimagining education. 

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We are living amidst a once-in-a-generation crisis that threatens the moral and social fabric of India and the world. The Covid-19 pandemic has directly infected more than 8 million people across the globe. In India, it has already impacted over 300 thousand citizens. We, at Teach For India, are committed to ensuring a better tomorrow. We serve, through the direct care of Teach For India, 32,000 children. Indirectly, our Alumni are serving more than 21 million others through classrooms, schools, community centers, non-profits, and advocacy arms. By design, we are collectively serving the country’s most impoverished and most vulnerable families.

For the children we serve, the four walls of the Teach For India classroom are their only pathway to a better life. It’s also their safe haven and space where many can find reprieve from the chaos and abuse of life at home. The current crisis deeply threatens that safe haven. It’s cutting off access to nutrition and basic supplies: our internal data suggested that in the initial weeks of the lockdown, 45% of our families were unable to reliably access finance and food. And with the closure of schools across the country, it’s taking one of society’s greatest equalizers - the promise of an excellent education - and threatening to render it moot. Our students are losing valuable learning time which, for India’s most impoverished children, is needed to succeed. Given their lack of network connectivity and literate family members, the school is their only access to effective instruction.

Our 900 Fellows have been coordinating relief efforts - drives to provide basic supplies such as food and ration - for the 32,000 families we serve. They’re setting up ration camps in schools across Malwani, Mumbai; mobilizing funds for survival kits in Hyderabad; volunteering via distribution camps in Pune. And in the background, they’re converting their classrooms to virtual spaces to ensure that learning doesn’t stop.Our 3400 Alumni – now working in institutions, non-profits, and schools across the country – are providing relief for millions more. Our children too are stepping up to serve their communities by providing access to necessities, keeping peers connected, and ensuring that learning continues.


To complement the efforts of our frontline leaders and provide food and relief to our students and their families, we launched an online relief campaign. So far we have raised a little over 75% of our goal and utilized half of the contribution to serve more than 10500 families across Amdavad, Bangalore, Delhi, Hyderabad, Mumbai, and Pune. Assistance has included food rations, gas supplies, medicinal support, and direct-cash assistance. With the lockdown likely to get extended at least in part, and the economic toll likely to continue, we are anticipating that families will continue to need assistance. We are committing to continue providing assistance for families in need – via food, rations, medicine, and direct cash – to families in need over the next 60 days.That period will allow targeted families to transition back into society effectively. We are also gradually moving towards enabling enhanced access to our students for online learning by ensuring that they have the necessary resources to do so - a device and a strong internet connection.

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Our Students
Our Students

The Kids Education Revolution program came into being because of an urgent need to shift the purpose of education by leveraging student agency, potential, and voice across a diverse group of organizations and schools. We hosted KER week in January 2020. The week was a significant step forward in having kids showcasing the diversity of our collective, and in bringing the powerful idea of a reimagined education to life.

After KER Night and Summit, our student revolutionaries have walked away with belief in themselves and in the power of communities. Educators and school leaders have shared glowing reviews of their experiences of student-educator led facilitation and the sessions that exhibited the wonderful work that different organizations/schools are doing to create a better world for our children. Individuals at different levels in the system have shared commitments to create more platforms for their own kids to contribute towards change, and to create opportunities through which students and teachers can co-create education by listening to and learning from each other.

 Here is what one of the attendees had to say:- “The sessions were wonderful with a lot of fun activities and let's hope that as educators we would be able to provide our dear students a world full of sunshine!”

 KER week began with a three-day residential Revolutionary Retreatwhich hosted 125 student revolutionaries from 15 countries. Over the 3 days, our revolutionaries explored the stories that make us who we are, deepened relationships with one another, and created the stories of what might be.

 KER Night saw our students showcasing their stories of Grey Sunshine through various theatre and spoken word performances. We also witnessed a panel where we were joined by Barkha Dutt, Amitabh Kant and Ashish Dhawan along with student leaders like climate change activist, Ridhima Pandey who spoke about their vision for the future of education. 

During the KER Summit, our participants got to experience various instances of student voice, leadership and the Grey Sunshine in the education sector. Through the Museum of Grey Sunshine, participants saw the realities of our broken education system and witnessed the atrocities through the eyes of the students. 


We also had the pleasure of being joined by Mr. Shailendra Sharma, Principal Advisor at the Directorate of Education. He led the opening of the Summit and shared stories about what inspired him to join the education sector. 

The panel discussion
The panel discussion
The Museum of Grey Sunshine
The Museum of Grey Sunshine
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Teach For India

Location: Mumbai, Maharashtra - India
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Twitter: @teachforindia
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Merlyn Fernandes
Mumbai, Maharashtra India
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