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Samarthya: Transforming Governance of Government Schools

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About Us
The relationship between people and governments in democratic societies is defined by a core belief that governments work on behalf of the people they serve, and that those people are able to effectively engage with their government. This relationship is never perfect but, in healthy societies, structures and systems exist to strive for continual improvement.
Samarthya was started in February 2017 with the belief that the best way to preserve our democracy is to take part in it. From then on we are in a pursuit of strengthening/ creating spaces which promote public participation. 

The Problem
Problem: Government schools in India are poorly governed.

The  state of government schools in India is not hidden from anybody. At the root of the multifaceted problem from infrastructure to learning outcomes  lies poor governance and oversight within the school system. Poor governance inhibits the capacity of schools to deliver on its intended outcomes.

In our 3 year experience of working on the ground, we have found this happens because:

1.   Lack of Active Platforms:
There are no active platforms where different stakeholders come together to collectively dialogue and act. Platforms which bring stakeholders together such as School Management Committees, Parent Teacher Meetings, General Body Meetings lie defunct viz a viz frequency and quality of these forums remains woefully inadequate. I

2. Lack of Voice and Agency in Stakeholders:
Stakeholders don’t have the voice and agency to participate in decision making processes. Active platforms are only possible if stakeholders have the requisite dispositions to participate in such platforms. As per data collected from the schools we work with,  73% of the parent members felt that they didn’t have enough knowledge and skills to perform their roles and responsibilities as members of the governing body of their neighborhood government school.

Our Solution
Our solution approach leverages the fact that well governed institutions are more likely to deliver on its intended outcomes than poorly governed institutions. Furthermore, having inclusive and representative platforms which allow for collective dialogue and action is a basic facet of good governance as suggested by United Nations, Prerna Goswami (2013),  and International Association For Public Participation.


Our Presence
Key Achievements

Program Achievements/Impact: 
Key Partnerships:


Miscellaneous Achievements: 

  • We were nominated as one of the two non profits in the SMC cell constituted by the Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights.

  • Samarthya's co-founder was awarded BITSAA top 30 under 30 award in social entrepreneurship

  • We were invited by The Lego Foundation to conduct an interactive session on our approach to work at The Lego Idea Conference 2019 in Billund, Denmark. We were one of the eight organizations' that presented our work to a group of 350+ participants from across 40+ countries. 



 
Who are we?
Samarthya is led by Teach For India, BITS Pilani Goa, IIT Alumni. The team has a collective work experience of 20 years in the social sector.

Your Support:

We have previously raised approx. 10 Lakhs on this page over the last 2 years. This year we are planning to raise an additional 15 Lakhs we are trying to raise through this campaign are for the 12 month period in the coming FY April 2021-March 22.

__________________________________ 
             
Please donate if you connect to the cause or share our belief that local collective dialogue and action is going to change the education landscape for the better.  You can read more about Samarthya on our website: www.samarthya.co or in this article.

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25th December 2020
Dear Supporter,

In 1986, Christa McAuliffe  was supposed to become the first teacher to ever go to space aboard The Challenger Space Shuttle. During that time in space crafts often, O-Rings were used to keep pressurized gas from leaking out. Before 1986, O-Rings were tested and tested in every circumstance but one: cold. On 28th January 1986, it was unusually cold in Florida and the temperature dropped to 18*F, it turns out the O-rings stopped working at 40*F. As a result, 73 seconds after The Challenger lifts off, it converts itself into a bomb and detonates.

Over the last 3 years, Samarthya's model has been tested and tested in many different circumstances but one: a pandemic. How do you enable dialogue in a world where everything is remote? How does one enable collective action when we are forced to be physically apart? So when we started looking for answers in April, we spoke to the stakeholders and we paid attention, we worked hard and we paid attention, we discussed impossible probabilities and improbable possibilities and by the end of August we've managed to keep it together and not detonate. This update is about how we fostered platforms and avenues for stakeholder voices to be heard and acted upon, especially during these trying times.

Enabling Dialogue and Collective Action:

With Haryana allowing offices in schools to open, we've been facilitating SMC meetings in July. In the SMC meetings, one of the primary concerns which emerged for parents and teachers was dropouts. In a school in Liwaspur, the members of the SMC decided to divide localities and go door-to-door to talk to parents about the benefits of enrolling their children in public schools, as well as explaining the entire procedure of enrollment. You can read more about it here.
In this regard Samarthya, in association with other partners, has also launched an enrollment helpline, which is aimed to be a one stop shop solution for all enrollment related queries of parents and students in District of Sonipat.


Creating Avenues For Stakeholder Voices

During a pandemic, when the problems faced by our most vulnerable stakeholders have disproportionately increased, it becomes even more important to ensure that the barriers for those stakeholders to register their feedback/ concerns are decreased.

In that context we have created avenues/ enabled platforms for stakeholders to express their suggestions/ concerns.

Virtual PTM:

Teachers across Government secondary schools in Punjab spoke to over 5 lakh students over a 3 day period. The teachers took inputs from parents and students around remote learning initiatives rolled out by the state government during the pandemic. The sheer act of teachers just calling parents/ children in such trying times is uplifting. Uplifting times 5 Lakh.

Sujhaav Somvaar:

Sujhaav Somvaar or ‘Mondays For Suggestions’, gives a platform to parents, teachers, department staff members, and other stakeholders to voice their feedback and suggestions on various projects that the government is working on. Sujhaav Somvaar allows for a faster yet diverse feedback loop, which in turn, allows the Department of Education to improvise on insights from multiple stakeholders and improve its initiatives quickly. You can read more about it here.

_______________


We believe if everyone has the ability to express their concerns and if enough active platforms exist where people come together to dialogue and act, every challenge we face today can be surmounted. This is the kind of  world Samarthya is in the pursuit of.

We are not aiming for the stars, we are aiming just an inch higher.

We are beginning our crowdfunding campaign for the next financial year. We'd appreciate your support this year as well. You can share this campaign in your circles as well to continue supporting our work.

Please do reach out to us for any queries. For regular updates, you can visit our Facebook page.




--
For and on behalf of Samarthya,Sahil Babbar +91-9326576999     

Dear Supporter,

In 1986, Christa McAuliffe  was supposed to become the first teacher to ever go to space aboard The Challenger Space Shuttle. During that time in space crafts often, O-Rings were used to keep pressurized gas from leaking out. Before 1986, O-Rings were tested and tested in every circumstance but one: cold. On 28th January 1986, it was unusually cold in Florida and the temperature dropped to 18*F, it turns out the O-rings stopped working at 40*F. As a result, 73 seconds after The Challenger lifts off, it converts itself into a bomb and detonates.

Over the last 3 years, Samarthya's model has been tested and tested in many different circumstances but one: a pandemic. How do you enable dialogue in a world where everything is remote? How does one enable collective action when we are forced to be physically apart? So when we started looking for answers in April, we spoke to the stakeholders and we paid attention, we worked hard and we paid attention, we discussed impossible probabilities and improbable possibilities and by the end of August we've managed to keep it together and not detonate. This update is about how we fostered platforms and avenues for stakeholder voices to be heard and acted upon, especially during these trying times.

Enabling Dialogue and Collective Action:

With Haryana allowing offices in schools to open, we've been facilitating SMC meetings in July. In the SMC meetings, one of the primary concerns which emerged for parents and teachers was dropouts. In a school in Liwaspur, the members of the SMC decided to divide localities and go door-to-door to talk to parents about the benefits of enrolling their children in public schools, as well as explaining the entire procedure of enrollment. You can read more about it here.
In this regard Samarthya, in association with other partners, has also launched an enrollment helpline, which is aimed to be a one stop shop solution for all enrollment related queries of parents and students in District of Sonipat.


Creating Avenues For Stakeholder Voices

During a pandemic, when the problems faced by our most vulnerable stakeholders have disproportionately increased, it becomes even more important to ensure that the barriers for those stakeholders to register their feedback/ concerns are decreased.

In that context we have created avenues/ enabled platforms for stakeholders to express their suggestions/ concerns.

Virtual PTM:

Teachers across Government secondary schools in Punjab spoke to over 5 lakh students over a 3 day period. The teachers took inputs from parents and students around remote learning initiatives rolled out by the state government during the pandemic. The sheer act of teachers just calling parents/ children in such trying times is uplifting. Uplifting times 5 Lakh.

Sujhaav Somvaar:

Sujhaav Somvaar or ‘Mondays For Suggestions’, gives a platform to parents, teachers, department staff members, and other stakeholders to voice their feedback and suggestions on various projects that the government is working on. Sujhaav Somvaar allows for a faster yet diverse feedback loop, which in turn, allows the Department of Education to improvise on insights from multiple stakeholders and improve its initiatives quickly. You can read more about it here.

_______________


We believe if everyone has the ability to express their concerns and if enough active platforms exist where people come together to dialogue and act, every challenge we face today can be surmounted. This is the kind of  world Samarthya is in the pursuit of.

We are not aiming for the stars, we are aiming just an inch higher.

We are beginning our crowdfunding campaign for the next financial year. We'd appreciate your support this year as well. You can share this campaign in your circles as well to continue supporting our work.

Please do reach out to us for any queries. For regular updates, you can visit our Facebook page.




--
For and on behalf of Samarthya,Sahil Babbar +91-9326576999     

9th October 2019
Skylab was an unmanned satellite NASA sent up in the early ‘70s on an eight year data gathering mission.  The thing is, when they sent it up they didn’t know yet how they were gonna get it back but they felt like they were close enough that in the eight years it was going to be up there they’d figure it out. They didn’t. So after eight years it lost its orbit and came crashing down in a thousand-mile swathe across the Indian Ocean.
An Australian Man Posing With Wreckage From The Skylab

Like Skylab, in January 2019 we actively started involving students in School Management Committee Meetings in Sonipat without actually knowing how will it impact the SMC. We didn't know how far the idea will go, and how will other adult members in the Committee react to the regular addition of students. But after working with SMCs for 2 years we were sure that we were close enough to make it work.
We now have SMCs in which 60% of the total issues raised come from students. We have seen adults with year old conflicts find common ground to resolve issues that have come from students.
Unlike Skylab, our exploration into the unknown space didn't come crashing down. The character and the courage shown by these students has inspired us through the last few months.  
_________________
 
Please find below recent key updates.
 
Samarthya At The Lego Idea Conference, Denmark

We were invited by the The Lego Foundation to facilitate an experience around fostering voice and agency in parents. The opportunity allowed us to share our work with a diverse set of participants at the Lego Idea Conference.

Sonipat Impact Report

This was the first year that we worked in Sonipat and we have had some valuable learnings as well as meaningful impact towards the work that we set out to do. Some of the key outcomes captured in the report are:
1. 83% of the SMC members from all 15 schools are now aware of the needs of the school
2. 71% of the SMC members are aware of their key duties and responsibilities
3. 60% of the issues raised in SMC meetings got resolved
The full report can be found here.

Local Collective Dialogue and Action in Delhi

In Delhi, we saw School Management Committees of the morning shift and the evening shift conduct joint SMC meetings. It is due to this local collective dialogue and action that we are seeing an unprecedented average grievance redressal rate of over 70% across the 12 schools we work with in Delhi.
_________________
Barack Obama in this commencement address said, "When we don’t pay close attention to the decisions made by our leaders, when we fail to educate ourselves about the major issues of the day, when we choose not to make our voices and opinions heard, that’s when democracy breaks down."  

With only 13% schools complying with the basic norms and standards laid down in the Right To Free and Compulsory Education Act, we can't let democracy breakdown in our schools.  

To do this Samarthya has been in the pursuit of building a culture of shared ownership around government schools. We are attempting to do this by making their governance inclusive and representative of all stakeholders.
We are not aiming for the stars, we are aiming just an inch higher.

Please reach out to us for any queries/ suggestions. Follow our Facebook page for regular updates.
Skylab was an unmanned satellite NASA sent up in the early ‘70s on an eight year data gathering mission.  The thing is, when they sent it up they didn’t know yet how they were gonna get it back but they felt like they were close enough that in the eight years it was going to be up there they’d figure it out. They didn’t. So after eight years it lost its orbit and came crashing down in a thousand-mile swathe across the Indian Ocean.
An Australian Man Posing With Wreckage From The Skylab

Like Skylab, in January 2019 we actively started involving students in School Management Committee Meetings in Sonipat without actually knowing how will it impact the SMC. We didn't know how far the idea will go, and how will other adult members in the Committee react to the regular addition of students. But after working with SMCs for 2 years we were sure that we were close enough to make it work.
We now have SMCs in which 60% of the total issues raised come from students. We have seen adults with year old conflicts find common ground to resolve issues that have come from students.
Unlike Skylab, our exploration into the unknown space didn't come crashing down. The character and the courage shown by these students has inspired us through the last few months.  
_________________
 
Please find below recent key updates.
 
Samarthya At The Lego Idea Conference, Denmark

We were invited by the The Lego Foundation to facilitate an experience around fostering voice and agency in parents. The opportunity allowed us to share our work with a diverse set of participants at the Lego Idea Conference.

Sonipat Impact Report

This was the first year that we worked in Sonipat and we have had some valuable learnings as well as meaningful impact towards the work that we set out to do. Some of the key outcomes captured in the report are:
1. 83% of the SMC members from all 15 schools are now aware of the needs of the school
2. 71% of the SMC members are aware of their key duties and responsibilities
3. 60% of the issues raised in SMC meetings got resolved
The full report can be found here.

Local Collective Dialogue and Action in Delhi

In Delhi, we saw School Management Committees of the morning shift and the evening shift conduct joint SMC meetings. It is due to this local collective dialogue and action that we are seeing an unprecedented average grievance redressal rate of over 70% across the 12 schools we work with in Delhi.
_________________
Barack Obama in this commencement address said, "When we don’t pay close attention to the decisions made by our leaders, when we fail to educate ourselves about the major issues of the day, when we choose not to make our voices and opinions heard, that’s when democracy breaks down."  

With only 13% schools complying with the basic norms and standards laid down in the Right To Free and Compulsory Education Act, we can't let democracy breakdown in our schools.  

To do this Samarthya has been in the pursuit of building a culture of shared ownership around government schools. We are attempting to do this by making their governance inclusive and representative of all stakeholders.
We are not aiming for the stars, we are aiming just an inch higher.

Please reach out to us for any queries/ suggestions. Follow our Facebook page for regular updates.
28th October 2018
22% to 78% | The Rise & Rise of Attendance In PTMs

Arnstein in her 1969 book A Ladder Of Citizen Participation noted that consultation and partnership are central for any fruitful participation to take place. We see her 49 year old lessons come alive in our work at Samarthya everyday.

A few months back, the Parent Teacher Meeting (PTM) held at a Government School in Kundli , Sonipat saw only 22% parents turn up. While the PTM held in August saw the the attendance jump to 78%.


Why Did Attendance Rise?
The attendance rose because parent representatives in the School Management Committee pointed out that how the 09:30 AM timing of the PTM did not suit them as most of them were daily wage workers and half of their pay gets cut even if they are 5 minutes late for their jobs which usually starts by 09:00 AM.

The teachers took ownership and decided that the PTM can be rescheduled to 07:30 AM, which was half an hour before their regular reporting time.

Physical invitations were sent out to the parents. Reminders were given to the children during the 3 assemblies prior to the PTM.


PTM Invite (1/2)


PTM Invite (2/2)

The Significance of the Rise in Attendance
The rise in attendance holds significance because it happened in a school and at a time in which teachers’ perceive parents’ attitude to be passive, with little to no interest in their child’s learning.



The rise in attendance holds significance because this PTM got teachers together to list down common things they wanted to share with all parents.

The rise in attendance holds significance because it got parents of more than 600 children inside the school premises after a long long time.




A SMC Meeting In Progress

The Power of Dialogue
The teachers, the parents, the principal recognized they all agreed on the need of regular Parent Teacher Meetings. They were able to narrow down on issues that led to low attendance in PTMs and they were able to address them. They were able to do all these and be all these things because of the platform the School Management Committee meetings gives them. It brings all stakeholders together and gives them a platform to dialogue together and to act together.

It’s easy, it’s almost tempting to despair, to be paralyzed by circumstances and say this is how it has always been, this is how it will always be. But it takes courage to believe again and that courage was rewarded for all stakeholders in the school in Kundli.
22% to 78% | The Rise & Rise of Attendance In PTMs

Arnstein in her 1969 book A Ladder Of Citizen Participation noted that consultation and partnership are central for any fruitful participation to take place. We see her 49 year old lessons come alive in our work at Samarthya everyday.

A few months back, the Parent Teacher Meeting (PTM) held at a Government School in Kundli , Sonipat saw only 22% parents turn up. While the PTM held in August saw the the attendance jump to 78%.


Why Did Attendance Rise?
The attendance rose because parent representatives in the School Management Committee pointed out that how the 09:30 AM timing of the PTM did not suit them as most of them were daily wage workers and half of their pay gets cut even if they are 5 minutes late for their jobs which usually starts by 09:00 AM.

The teachers took ownership and decided that the PTM can be rescheduled to 07:30 AM, which was half an hour before their regular reporting time.

Physical invitations were sent out to the parents. Reminders were given to the children during the 3 assemblies prior to the PTM.


PTM Invite (1/2)


PTM Invite (2/2)

The Significance of the Rise in Attendance
The rise in attendance holds significance because it happened in a school and at a time in which teachers’ perceive parents’ attitude to be passive, with little to no interest in their child’s learning.



The rise in attendance holds significance because this PTM got teachers together to list down common things they wanted to share with all parents.

The rise in attendance holds significance because it got parents of more than 600 children inside the school premises after a long long time.




A SMC Meeting In Progress

The Power of Dialogue
The teachers, the parents, the principal recognized they all agreed on the need of regular Parent Teacher Meetings. They were able to narrow down on issues that led to low attendance in PTMs and they were able to address them. They were able to do all these and be all these things because of the platform the School Management Committee meetings gives them. It brings all stakeholders together and gives them a platform to dialogue together and to act together.

It’s easy, it’s almost tempting to despair, to be paralyzed by circumstances and say this is how it has always been, this is how it will always be. But it takes courage to believe again and that courage was rewarded for all stakeholders in the school in Kundli.
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Goal: Rs.2,500,000

Beneficiary: Association For... info_outline
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