Accomplishing guaranteed learning

Launch of a National Mission

Author: N.Skehar

Need for an Enabled Future

Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) is a global survey that aims to evaluate education systems worldwide by testing the knowledge and skills of 15-year-old students. All the assessment papers go up to 6 levels with increasing complexity. India last participated in the survey in 2009 where the results showed that not 1 in 7500 students could answer a level 4,5 and 6 question while global average was 18% of students should go above 5. The Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) in 2009 which is the largest household survey in Rural India focusing on child’s schooling and basic learning i.e. reading thetext and solving simple arithmetic found that 70% of students of class 4th were not able to read text or do simple two-digit multiplication. The shocking results exposed the deplorable state of Indian Education System and after much deliberation decision was made to focus on the building block i.e. our primary education.

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Start of an Experiment

“How many hours of teaching do you need to enable 100% of grade 4 children to read and understand a simple paragraph in a newspaper?”

The standard answer to this is 60 hrs. Now if a child is spending 4 hrs at school and from standard 1st to 4th, he/she goes to school for 200 days, that makes atotal number of tuition hours to be 3200 hrs. So, something is genuinely wrong as these figures don’t explain why the child after spending quality time in school is not able to grasp the fundamentals.

In the quest for an answer, a state experiment approved by SarvaShikshaAbhiyan to ensure learning was started.In 2009, aMoUwas signed between CII (Confederation of Indian Industry) and Government of Goa. Five government schools were adopted and itwas assured that using the school resources, the experiment will try to give better learning outcomes and evaluate the impact through independent testing. Unlike themajority of educational assessments based on storytelling and anecdotalevidence, this experiment used a benchmark against a control i.e. what has been the impact before and after. In this case, experimental group were the five rural government schools involving around a hundred students and control comprised of students from leading private schools of Goa. After four years, the experimental group outperformed the control group with 1% failure against 16% failure of students from thecontrol group and the class average of rural schools was 75% as against 60% for urban schools.

The key to success was found to be simple i.e. involving the teacher in accomplishing simple goals that have been mandated by State. The goals of teachers were made simple i.e. ensure that children by standard 4th are able to read and do simple arithmetic operations. Since it had come from the government, teachers focused on those leading to this remarkable success.

Learning Take-Aways:

This experiment provided us with very important learnings:

  • Clarity in goals of teachers: Goals of our teachers and many and vague. Her obligation is to complete the curriculum and not to ensure visible learning outcomes for the children. Making goals clear, measurable and associated with quality learning is the first step that needs to be taken.
  • Training of Teachers: Today most of the teachers recruited have D.Ed. or B.Ed. but again these degrees fail to reflect their capability of teaching basic concepts. The best way is to build competence in teachers on teaching skills he/she is not confident with. Every school has senior and experienced teachers along with new teachers. Encouraging weekly and monthly meetings where both sets help each other to make unit plans and daily lesson plans by giving inputs on teaching the fundamental concepts is an efficient and economical way of training the teachers without spending on external teacher trainers. This also improves relationships between the teachers and brings unity.
  • Hands-on Management: From the Director of Education to the Area Inspector and School Supervisor, everybody is looking at the service conditions i.e. whether the children are coming to schools or the lessons they have written down in the notebooks implies they know the particular matter etc. Thus, top to bottom nobody is interested in quality learning outcomes. It is necessary to launch guaranteed learning as a mission from the Centre so that the State and the officers have to mandatorily follow it.

Successive experiments have proved that success of any educational programme on a global scale is correlated with the willingness of teachers to get involved. So, every initiative needs to take place through the regular teacher. The new trend of interventions is heavily focused on substituting the teachers with a temporary volunteer to ensure quality teaching. These initiatives won’t work out in the long run as the moment teacher takes a backseat, his/her accountability to the job, students and school are lost. We now need to recognise that we are talking about thedeficiency of a life essential service for more than 70% of our region and it is high time we as a Nation do something that is reflected on a National And International scale and not just in our reports.

About the Author

Mr. Anil kher

Member, Board of Technical Education, Goa, Member, CII Primary Education Council

Mr. Anil Kher a Chemical Engineer (1977) from BHU-IT, is the Managing Director of Micro Interconnexion Private Ltd, a company manufacturing high tech ‘Gold  plated PCBs’ for leading global  players  in sectors such  as –Watches, Automotive, Defense etc. Mr Kher is a member of Board of Technical Education, Goa, ex-member of Board of Governors of NIT, Goa, and a member of CII Primary Education Council. As a Past Chairman, Confederation of Indian Industry Goa Council, he has also completed a 4 year project in rural Government Primary Schools in Goa.

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