What is KLP?

The Karnataka Learning Partnership was formed as a framework for nonprofits, corporations, academic institutions, and citizens to get involved in improving government schools in Karnataka. Our work has touched thousands of children in the state.
Visit our website: www.klp.org.in

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Bhatta-Shalas - Schools for Children of Kiln Workers

The Doorstep School initiative in Pune is helping children of migrant labourers and construction workers get free education. Today's post is about the kiln schools of Haryana.

Against the backdrop of a smoke-billowing chimney of a brick kiln and under a tin-roofed shed stuffed with rows of freshly-molded bricks, a class is in session.

Nearly 50 children sit cross-legged attentively practising numerals on their slates. It is an unusual setting but nine-year-old Ashida isn’t complaining as this is the only school she knows of.

In fact, this daughter of an Assamese migrant beams with pride as she displays her neatly-written Hindi alphabets which she picked up in a month. Until last year, she would have spent the first half of the year working in brickkilns and the rest assisting her family in chores back home. “I learn something new in school everyday,” she says coyly.

She speaks for about five thousand students who attend 100-odd brick kiln schools across Jhajjar district, Haryana. Known as bhatta-shalas, these schools are a boon for the wards of kiln workers, who miss primary education due to their families’ constant inter-state migration.

In May 2007, 70 per cent students did well in the final evaluation and received certificates allowing them admission in regular schools. An ILO-funded tracking system for the bhatta-shala project saw the enrollment of 800 students in their native districts in seven states.
Read the entire article here.

Image Source: Artiii

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Learning in Ladakh

Sonam Wangchuk founded the Students’ Educational and Cultural Movement of Ladakh (secmol), at Phey (near Leh) in 1988. The school was set up after he noted the high failure rate of Ladakhi students which was leading to high rates of unemployment.

Via Tehelka
Eversince Ladakh was merged into Jammu and Kashmir in 1947, the official language of Ladakh, like the rest of the state, has been Urdu. Languages of instruction in primary schools are Hindi and Urdu, neither of which are spoken by children here in their daily lives. Children in Ladakh also begin to learn English very late, only five years before their school exams in English. Consequently, the students have difficulty expressing themselves in exams and the failure rate is high. Since independence, the graduation rate in Ladakh has varied from 0 to 5 percent.

Elementary school curricula were built on mainstream Indian motifs and contexts the children did not understand. Teachers were neither trained nor supervised, and this led to corruption of the system.

Responding to what he sees as a critical need to involve local communities in educating their children according to their own language and way of life, Sonam has organised citizens across the region to monitor and participate in school activities.

Building on that foundation, secmol then launched Village Education Committees. The villages that want teacher training are asked to pay for it. Each villager contributes a little towards the total amount. These contributions ensure the villagers’ enthusiasm in the process of change and secure their future roles as monitors of the schools. secmol works with the committees and with new teachers to introduce curricula with local motifs and contexts, including new methods in teaching science and math.

According to secmol’s strategy, the training of teachers is accompanied by an emphasis on the inherent flaw in the education system — the foreignness and poor quality of the curriculum. Through Sonam and his team’s advocacy efforts, the government introduced English at the primary level in 1992, a move especially important because there is still no universally accepted version of written Ladakhi.

A milestone in secmol’s work came with the building of a central government residential school at Durbuk village. Everyone in the community put in at least one day’s labour to build the school. Because the buildings were insulated for winter use, they were able to implement a path-breaking change in the educational cycles. While children in Durbuk used to spend their school break in idleness during winters, they now are able to study through this season.
Read the entire story here. You can visit their website here.

Image Source: PIXistenz

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Doorstep School Initiative

The Doorstep School initiative in Pune is helping children of migrant labourers and construction workers to avail free education. The initiative that initially began as a community library for Mumbai's slums came to Pune in 1993. From there it slowly started providing primary education to children in slums, pavement communities and construction sites.

Via OneWorld South Asia
Two months ago, six-year-old Sushma Walimbe, a cherubic girl who still carries a broken doll with her wherever she goes, spent her mornings on heaps of gravel and sand on the construction site of a huge residential complex.

Now, she has a fixed routine and from 9.30 am to 12.30 pm she does her best to learn numbers, Marathi alphabets and poems. What she loves best is to draw houses and paint them in vivid colours. "She has discovered her own gift," says her teacher, Madhuri Gote, with pride.

This is thanks to Door Step School, an organisation that was started in 1989 by Rajani Paranjpe and her college student, Bina Laskhari.

The experiment certainly invited a whole lot of challenges. "The biggest problem was to convince the migrant labourers to send their children to school.

Their attitude was: why waste time and effort when their stay at a particular construction site wasn't going to be more than for a year or two. But now, things have changed. So much so that these workers come to us for guidance about how their children can further avail of secondary education.

The syllabus, keeping in mind that children come from diverse cultural backgrounds and speak different languages, has been drawn up as kits on basic grammar and mathematics meant for easy and interactive teaching. Non-formal education to children includes lessons in hobby reading, drawing, basic grammar and mathematics. It also has facilitators conducting reading sessions that are called Book Fairies. "Book Fairies make sure that every child goes through at least 90 minutes of reading per week," Paranjpe informs.

Paranjpe is also in the process of compiling a pictorial dictionary in Marathi with about 800 words to help those who don't understand the language. "Most of the labourers are from Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh and our experience is that the children don't take much time to learn in Marathi.

Read the entire article here.

Image Source: Manish Bansal

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Incentives that work in Education

Incentives that work


The 2006 Public Report on Basic Education (PROBE) reveals that though incentives like free textbooks and mid-day meal schemes are often disparaged in public debates as ‘populist’, they help at a fundamental level: they do bring children to school. A look at how they are changing primary education…

The main message from survey is that many school incentives are reaching rural children and have contributed to improving enrolment rates.

Vital Role: Children enjoying a mid-day meal at a primary school.

School incentives play diverse roles. One aspect is to reduce the cost of education: the provision of uniforms and textbooks lighten the financial burden of sending children to school. Cooked mid-day meals and to a large extent, textbooks and uniform s, go directly to enrolled children. Two, some incentives encourage regular attendance, apart from boosting enrolment. Third, for children, textbooks, uniforms and meals make the school appealing and something to look forward to. Finally, school incentives are important for an equitable schooling experience. Wearing uniforms, sharing meals, using the same books foster a sense of equality which is of much value in itself.

The Public Report on Basic Education (PROBE) was based on a survey of primary schooling in rural Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh in 1996. The PROBE report found abysmally low coverage of incentive schemes. When the same villages were resurveyed in 2006, the numbers had increased dramatically: e.g., the proportion of schools that reported operational incentives had risen from 10 per cent to 49 per cent in the case of uniforms, and 47 per cent to 98 per cent for textbooks. Mid-days meals were reported to be served in 84 per cent of the sample schools and scholarships were being given in 81 per cent of the schools. This period has also been marked by substantial progress towards universal enrolment. In 2006, 95 per cent of children in the 6-12 year age group were enrolled in school.

The mid-day meal scheme

The introduction, universalisation and routinisation of the Mid-Day Meal Scheme (MDMS) have been the biggest change since 1996. At the time of the PROBE survey, most States were implementing the MDMS as a “dry ration” scheme (conditional on 80 per cent attendance, children were given 3 kg of grain to take home). Ten years down the line, 84 per cent of households reported that their child got a cooked meal. The problem of non-coverage was largely confined to Bihar and Jharkhand where just over half of the households reported that their child had been receiving the mid-day meal. At the time of the survey in 2006, Bihar had only just started rolling out the programme.

Important role

The mid-day meal goes beyond run-of-the-mill school incentives in several ways. The MDMS can play an important role in boosting enrolment and attendance: the food attracts children to school on a daily basis. It can be viewed as a nutritional supplement — children in government schools, in rural and urban areas alike, tend to be from poor families and one nutritious meal at school can enhance their health. In large parts, children now enjoy a varied menu through the week, including eggs. During an informal field visit, a child in Jashpur (Chhattisgarh) when asked what he got at school, rattled off a long menu which ended with “sab kuch milta hai!” (We get everything).

Another important role of the MDM is the socialisation role whereby children learn to eat together, share a meal, etc. This in turn contributes to weakening longstanding caste barriers. Further, the MDMS can be an important part of the child’s education: it provides an opportunity to teach the child crucial habits related to health and hygiene, nutrition and so on.

The results from the 2006 survey are encouraging. Most teachers (91 per cent) said that all children consumed the meal at school. There were some hints of caste discrimination: in nearly one-fifth of those schools where plates are supplied, teachers said that children bring their own plates. The practice of storing plates “separately” was reported in three per cent of such schools. On other counts, however, it seems that good practices were generally being followed: in 64 per cent of the schools, investigators observed that children washed their hands before eating, in 65 per cent of schools the space was cleaned before eating and in more schools (79 per cent) after eating.

If adequate arrangements for cooking and serving the meal are not made, then the MDM can be counterproductive by causing disruption (e.g., making it difficult for children to concentrate on studies). Adequate arrangements include proper cooking facilities and the appointment of cooks and helpers. Nearly half (48 per cent) of the teachers said that the MDM disrupts teaching activities which suggests that there is ample scope for improving cooking arrangements.

A majority (71 per cent) of the teachers wanted the MDM to continue. The proportion of teachers who wanted the MDM to continue was much higher (89 per cent) among those who felt that it does not disrupt teaching activities (among teachers who felt the scheme disrupts teaching activity, only half wanted it to continue). This suggests that with adequate arrangements, the remaining resistance to the scheme is likely to drop. One criticism of the MDM has been that children come to school only to eat and then they go away. Our survey found that this claim is not true. According to the investigators, 95 per cent of the schools remained open after the MDM.

Incentives and corruption

What is the scale of leakages in school incentive schemes? Investigators noted the number of students eligible for a particular scheme and the number who actually received these benefits from the schools records. In the case of textbooks, on average, 161 students were eligible for free textbooks, but only 144 got them. Thus, according to the school registers, 89 per cent of eligible beneficiaries got textbooks. On the other hand, the proportion of parents who said that their child had received free textbooks is 84 per cent. This suggests a “leakage” of just five per cent.

Leakages appear to be higher for incentives with a high “resale” value (scholarships for SC/ST students and uniforms). This is cause for serious concern, suggesting the urgent need to take steps to plug the leakages. In the mid-day meal scheme, there is anecdotal evidence that there may be deficiencies in the quality and quantity (e.g., the dal served is watery, the menu is not followed). However, the fact remains that most children in primary schools do get cooked food most of the time. Large-scale leakages from the MDMS seem to have been plugged.

Increased transparency

How has this happened? One possible explanation is that the resale value of food stolen from the MDM is small compared with other incentives such as scholarships. More importantly, simple transparency measures have contributed to the success of the MDM. To illustrate, the weekly menu is painted on school walls. This helps parents keep track of whether their child is getting what she/he is entitled to. The fact that meals are cooked locally, under the eyes of the parents, also makes it easier for them to monitor its implementation. The scheme has also been watched keenly by the media. This has helped raise awareness, which in turn has meant that stealing from the MDM is more difficult. People’s vigilance and media interest have been backed by a sustained people’s campaign for implementing the MDMS. The judiciary has played a positive role too. It was the November 28, 2002 interim order of the Supreme Court in the “right to food case” that triggered a sustained people’s campaign for the scheme. Recently, in Haryana, a headmaster and four teachers were sentenced to seven years of imprisonment for siphoning off money by inflating enrolment figures. Firm action of this sort can serve as an effective deterrent.

Free textbooks are another example of reasonable success as far as school incentives are concerned. Textbooks are the key to the learning process at school. The distribution of free textbooks lightens the financial burden of schooling. As noted above, in 2006, 98 per cent of schools reported the distribution of free textbooks (up from 47 per cent in 1996). Further, in the 2006-7 academic year, 72 per cent of schools distributed textbooks in good time (i.e. in June or July). Timeliness is important because their distribution towards the end of the academic year is useless. Other forms of aberration reported in 1996 (e.g., a class III child with a class V textbook) have also virtually disappeared. Finally, investigators also noted improvements in the content and presentation of textbooks.

The main message from the 2006 survey is that many school incentives are reaching rural children and have contributed to improving enrolment rates. An interesting aside is that the universal schemes (e.g., mid-day meals and textbooks) perform better than targeted schemes (e.g. scholarships for girls). Though leakages persist, the mid-day meal scheme shows that they have largely been, and can further be, plugged. Similar transparency and awareness-raising measures need to be put in place for other school incentives.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Bollywood Songs Helping Indians to Read

Bollywood - a nine letter word that almost every Indian is familiar with. For those of you who are not familiar with Bollywood, you can take a look at the scene in 'Slumdog Millionaire' to see how the slum kid gets an autograph by India's biggest superstar to understand the Bollywood craze. Bollywood is a world where the common man goes to escape. But can Bollywood songs teach people how to read?

Via Telegraph.co.uk
But now an initiative that has been dubbed "karaoke for the poor" is transforming the lives of those who struggle to read or write.

The idea is the brainchild of Brij Kothari, a 44-year-old fellow of the Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad, who realised that with the simple addition of subtitles to Bollywood's prolific output, notionally literate Indians would instinctively read the lyrics of the songs they watched on television.

By regularly watching programmes with subtitles in the language they spoke, millions of people with "weak" reading skills would effectively get reading practice.

Over time, their ability would improve, enabling them to read newspapers, fill out government forms, and try for better jobs.

Mr Kothari chose programmes for subtitling that are watched by 200 million people on the government-run channel, Doordarshan, which serves those who cannot afford cable television. If the songs are in Hindi, the subtitles are in Hindi. If the song is in Bengali, the subtitles are in Bengali. Each written word is highlighted as it is sung.

Mr Kothari's scheme, which is run by his voluntary group PlanetRead, recently won funding by the World Bank after showing promising early results.

"I used to struggle to read words on signposts and hoardings but now it's much easier," she said. "I read a newsaper once a week now."

"The good thing about songs is that phrases are repeated. That reinforces words for people," said Hemaben Jadhwani, a PlanetRead field worker.
Read the entire story here.

Image Source: Meanest Indian