When we started, we realized that we are facing a unique problem of scarcity of resources in terms of qualified teachers, financial conditions of poor parents and apathy of the system to solve the most fundamental problem – educating the next generation India to make them valuable assets in the process of Nation Building. So, we thought of certain “dots” we needed to troubleshoot with point solutions that would connect in the end to provide a holistic response to the challenge of educating rural India in a very robust, reliable way.
Early on, we decided that we must groom the teachers from the local eco-system for several reasons:
- • Urban teachers will not move to rural areas
- • There is as such scarcity of teachers in India
- • There has to be raw talent at grass root level. it’s a question of finding that talent and shaping it to become a qualified teacher.
- • Local talent tapping will create an emotional buy-in the local eco-system and provide social support in the long term.
- • Teacher is a role model for children. If we can “train” the teacher, then impact on children would be long lasting, and very positive. Not only that, creating a buy-in from parents for their children to continue education would be easier with local support.
- We worked with principal and the teaching stuff of the rural school to make them aware that we were just providing complimentary services and assistance. Our teachers are really their “assistants”. We positioned ourselves as helpers to their duty and responsibility. This was very essential to create the right environment of collaboration and teamwork; and not end up in petty, local competitive politics. This positioning has been instrumental in our acceptance and success.
- It was very clear from the very beginning, that a large number of children were way behind in their ability to read/write and to learn math. There was a very clear need to design ‘bridge courses’ to plug the gap that existed between average student and below average student. With help of MAA Foundation, we implemented these bridge courses to pull weaker students at the same level as the class average before getting them to the next grade. This was essential to ensure that a large swathe of children were not left behind practically as they advance in their grades.
- Shri Pratul Shroff firmly believes that “whatever you measure, it improves”. From the beginning, we decided that continuous assessment of what was learned, a closed loop feedback system and continuous improvement through that is going to be a key cornerstone of our foundation. Unless you measure the improvement, you don’t know if you are making any difference or not. And this is an area where most work is required in the field of education.
We set out to design a web based software package that would collect and store the results of each assessment, each test of each child in each subject of every grade, every year! This was a very effective way of monitoring performance of every class, every child, every school at any level with data analytics. This package called S2T2 (Serving Society Through Technology) has been invaluable in providing instantaneous feedback in real time about performance of every child, every teacher, every subject and every school! This method of collecting test scores, data and trending the data gave us invaluable
- • Under performance monitoring,we establish a proper reporting system to capture the performance of every child, school, subject, teacher, team leader, cluster head and zonal head
- • Two tests are conducted every month. The first test by EC and the second by TL / CH to ensure the strong performance monitoring of students
- • Cluster heads are monitored by zonal heads, audit team and project head in structured manner, via weekly and monthly meetings as well as surprise checks by an audit team
- • Each activity is captured by VIKAS portal, and respective reports are generated for all stake holders, to initiate the corrective actions.
- • Tests are conducted at the end of each module / chapter
- • Test papers are setup in such a way that students level can be identified very effectively
- • Teachers feed test marks to subject coordinator through SMS
- • School performance reports are generated by subject coordinator
- • CH / TL visit schools as per their schedule and interact with our teachers / school subject teachers and students
- • CH / TL send their observation reports for each school to ZH
- • Review with ZH, SC and subject coordinators
- • Next level visits are planned based upon these reviews
- • special focus on bright students
Therefore, our strategy from day-1 was to hire ‘future teachers’ from the local system, interview them and filter them for their passion for education, changing status quo in their village, their ability to learn quickly, and stability. Over years, we added training programs for character building for the teachers to make them realize their roles & responsibilities and importance & relevance of ethics, integrity and honesty.
Thus, creating a model ‘teacher’ was our first “dot” that we worked upon and laid down various processes including interview process, training process, evaluation of teaching and their effectiveness in the classroom. We made sure that the model was scalable and replicable; so that we can expand our reach over time.
Our performance monitoring structure
Finally, we were very clear that we will have to involve all stakeholders in this endeavours for it to succeed on a long term basis. Thus, we took steps to visit the parents, interact with them, educate them and developed their consensus. We also worked with Principal and the existing teaching staff to create a very positive environment for changes to take roots. When you connect all these dots, We also developed platforms of various events, quizzes and contests for bringing together all the stakeholders and develop a common objective.
So, when you connect all these dots together, a vision emerges that contains response to the rural education dilemma that is scalable, replicable, highly qualitative, very robust & holistic in its approach to solve the problem of quality education in rural India