Schooling and Learning improvement

©Sandrine Assouline

Context

In India, the national education policy highlights the ‘severe learning crisis’ observed among large numbers of primary school students. Nearly 50 million children are falling behind or have fallen behind and that it is difficult for them to catch up. According to UNICEF, about 6 million children are out of school in the country. Poor infrastructure and an insufficient number of teachers, especially female teachers, are the main reasons why girls drop out of school. The working age population (20-59 years), which accounted for 50.5% of the total population in 2011, will increase to about 60% by 2041. Consequently, India will remain in the “demographic dividend” zone for the next two decades. Despite the 75% increase in GDP, the labour market has failed to grow. As a result, youth unemployment and underemployment remain high.

The Balaghat and Mandla districts are among the most disadvantaged in India. Although significant efforts have been made to promote access and school enrolment through the national Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan (universalisation of primary education) programme, access remains a concern in the forested parts of these districts. Due to the recruitment of a large number of under-qualified and untrained para-teachers, the quality of education is also problematic. Moreover, because of how difficult it is to reach these schools/villages, teacher absenteeism is endemic.

Project objective

Improve school functioning and ensure quality education through effective participation of local governance and community; Ensure basic learning of children in primary school (linguistic and arithmetic); Promote dedicated holistic Early Childhood development and care, as well as quality pre-school education in Integrated Child Development Services centres. Remedial education centres called “Anand Ghar” (‘house of joy”) have been established in the 77 target schools to promote activity-based learning. These centres have improved the academic skills of the children; nursery school teachers have been trained in many basic learning activities that have improved nutrition, health, hygiene and self-reliance. Children were prepared for their transition to primary schools; In order to develop interest in reading, children had access to the school library and reading clubs.

The mobile library, promoted by the project, reached the most remote villages. Several books, translated into local dialects, were widely distributed in schools and communities; Workstations equipped with libraries, laboratories, teaching aids and other useful resources for learners and teachers were created in many schools. This has also enabled collaboration between schools for experience-sharing and cross-learning. The active engagement and participation of several stakeholders, especially Mothers’ Committee members, has led to the inclusion of all children in schools and improved retention and skills. These initiatives have helped to influence various government actors and programmes, resulting in the children’s and people’s access to their entitlements and rights, better infrastructure and an enabling environment in schools and homes.

Parterns

Initially funded by TATA TRUST and Wildlife Conservation Trust, this project has been partly funded since December 2019 by Excel Control Linkage Pvt Ltd/Earth Focus Foundation.

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Project location / India - Goemka, Begana, Thinleygang, Renekha and Menchuna territories, Punakha district
Region / India, South Asia
Area / Access and quality of education, Early childhood education
Duration / 2014 - 2024
The project covers / In 2019, 2,255 school children benefited directly from this project; 6,114 people (including 800 young people), 46 teachers and 46 members of 13 Teachers’ Resource Groups (TRGs) indirectly benefited from this project.
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