Samarthya (officially registered as Association For Equitable Educational Spaces) is a Section 8 organization that was started in February 2017 by Teach For India Alumni to enable participation of parents in improving the quality of education in public schools. We have been working with public schools in Delhi, Sonipat (Haryana) and Punjab, to strengthen the structures which encourage parent participation in schools i.e. Parent-Teacher Meetings (PTMs) & School Management Committees (SMCs).
Ladakh is a Union Territory located in the northernmost part of India. There are more than 900 government schools in Ladakh enrolling around 25000 children being taught by 5500+ teachers. This means having one teacher for less than 5 students. Private schools in Ladakh are much less in number (113) but enroll more students than government schools (29000+ children). This clearly shows parents’ lack of trust in the public school system.
Close to 70% teachers are of the opinion that there is low parental involvement both in child’s learning as well in school activities (National Achievement Survey,2017 - for J&K state) Retention rate of schools in Ladakh is 71.25% at elementary level & 86.54% at secondary level.
These are pre-Covid numbers and the current status is believed to be much worse because due to the pandemic. Various reports project that the number of out-of-school children is going to double in the next one year across the country as schools start to reopen. Those who continue in school also need a lot more support in learning and well-being. Community and the school staff need to come together to ensure that no child is denied the right to attend school and learn. Parents of children have the potential to ensure this happens. Active parental participation can lead to:
- Improved support to school staff in identifying & driving improvements such as reducing dropouts, improving enrollment, attendance, and infrastructure
- Building back the trust & ownership in parents
- Enabling learning environment for children at school & at home
Focus Area 1: Improving engagement between parents and teachers
- Increased frequency, attendance of parents in PTMs
- Improved quality of discussions between parents and teachers
- Improved participation of parents in SMC elections
- Improved awareness of parents about SMC & its role in school development
- Increased number of schools where SMC elections are conducted effectively
- Improved awareness of SMC members about their role
- Improved belief of school staff in activation of SMCs
- Increased frequency and attendance in SMC meetings
- Improved quality of discussions in SMC meetings
- Improved awareness/Setting up of grievance redressal mechanism
- Improved process of raising and addressing the grievances of SMCs
Our team will work with the education department of Ladakh in ensuring that the ‘Parents As Partners’ program gets implemented across all government schools effectively, by doing the following activities:
- Support administration in drafting guidelines for SMCs - composition, elections, roles & responsibilities
- Research and design the contextual resources: Designing training and meeting resources, SMC meeting handbook, content for respective circulars/orders, and resources for online engagement with different stakeholders.
- Design, conduct and observe relevant training /meetings with the resource persons of the education department: Conducting/observing training and meetings of resources persons/School Heads towards sharing relevant knowledge, skills, and learnings.
- Data collection and feedback mechanism: Designing and improving the quality of data collection mechanism by introducing - meeting reflection forms, feedback forms, and observation forms to help us monitor the implementation and provide the required support wherever required.
- Improve awareness and efficiency of the grievance redressal mechanism: This will help us receive and address the issues which parents face in a timely manner and build their trust in government schools.
- Capture and communicate success stories and learnings: Conduct stakeholder interviews, surveys through phone calls or field visits. This will also include regularly designing and sharing program status reports with relevant stakeholders.