Samarthya: Support us to Help Children Access their Right to Education | Milaap
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Samarthya: Support us to Help Children Access their Right to Education

What is Samarthya?
Samarthya means enabler. Samarthya is an initiative to help children have better and complete access to their Right To Education. The initiative, which is aimed at enforcing Section 21 of the Right To Education, is being run by IIT, BITS, Teach For India Alumni and fellows in Delhi. Samarthya is actively working to empower parent leaders to work towards improving the school and subsequently the future children.

We believe that active parental participation has the potential to improve the efficiency of a school as parents have the highest incentive to demand a better quality of education for their children.

RTE Section 21 mandates the constitution of a School Management Committee (SMC) consisting of parents, a social worker, a representative of the local authority, the principal and a teacher. 75% of this committee comprises of parents. Currently we educate and support the parents by: 
1. Conducting informational sessions with them about RTE, roles and responsibilities as an SMC member.
2. Equipping them with necessary skills like accessing grievance redressal mechanisms, filing complaints, working with principals and local bodies.
3. Working on their mindset to engage with the system with care and empathy, to work in tandem with school authorities and to take greater interest in the life of their children.

The Problem:

What is the problem we are trying to address in the next 15 years?
  • High incidence of illiteracy, lack of awareness of rights, roles and responsibilities and prevailing power structures often interfere with the proper functioning of SMCs
  • Approximately 40% of SMCs in India don't receive any kind of training 
  • 25.9% of the schools at the primary level and 13.4% of the schools at the secondary level violate the RTE norm on student teacher ratio
  • 38% schools don’t have a playground
  • 44% boys and 43% girls passed 8th grade with less than 60% marks in 2015-16.


Who are we?
Samarthya comprises of of 8 youngsters who simply want to do good for the society. With respect to our work, 4 members of this team are themselves working as social workers in SMCs of government schools of Delhi. All the members are or have been a teacher, teacher trainer or parent coach for a duration ranging from few months to a couple of years. Previous professional experience of the members include work with Samsung, Infosys and MMRC.

Who do we currently work with?
Samarthya currently works with 238 parents, from low income communities, who are SMC members in 14 government schools in West and North-East Delhi.

How was the project running in 2016?
Samarthya is a not for profit initiative. All the members were doing pro bono work and in fact contributing from their personal salaries. Most of the costs were on travel, food and resources for training sessions. But this approach is leading to fund constraint and affecting the quality of the program.

What will the funds be used for?

To sustain the quality and work and continue with these parents and school, we have realized two key things:
a) We need to stay with these parents and schools for the long run. Think a couple of years to a decade because deep, sustainable change takes time.
b) We need to take this up full time, so members working on this would need salaries and enough funds to focus all the attention on the problem, solution and impact model in 2017.

Please donate to the project if you connect to the cause or share our belief that informed and equipped parents are going to change the education landscape for the better. In the interest of transparency, the budget of Samarthya is attached below. The session plans, grievance redressal analysis and more details about the organization can be found here.
Program Budget (2018-19): Delhi
Program Budget (2018-19): Delhi
Informational Brochure
Informational Brochure
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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.
28th July 2018
There is a story about a guy walking down the street who falls in a hole. The walls are so steep he can't get out. "A doctor passes by and the guy shouts up, 'Hey you. Can you help me out?' The doctor writes a prescription, throws it down in the hole and moves on.

Then a priest comes along and the guy shouts up, 'Father, I'm down in this hole can you help me out?' The priest writes out a prayer, throws it down in the hole and moves on.

Then a friend walks by. The guy in the hole says 'Hey, Joe, it's me can you help me out?' And the friend jumps in the hole. Our guy says, 'Are you stupid? Now we're both down here. Joe says. 'Yeah but I've been down here before and I know the way out.'
_______________________________
Meet Nanhe Ram Ji. he is a resident of Gokalpur Village, He was an ex-SMC  (School Management Committee) member. We have worked with him for 2 years now.
The pictures below are from problem-solving sessions conducted with different SMCs, the one person that is common is Nanhe Ram Ji.


Nanhe Ram Ji now actively guides these SMCs in solving issues in school. He has often connected these SMCs with the right people in the right department who can solve the issue at hand. Whenever the SMCs in his area have found themselves in a metaphorical hole, he has jumped right in with them and said 'I have been here before, and I know the way out.'   
Local people having and sharing their agency to solve local problems is what is at the heart of Samarthya's mission. Enabling potential Joe's such as Nanhe Ram Ji is what Samarthya is in the pursuit of. You can know more about our work by watching the video below.

_______________________________
Please find below the 3 key updates from our last quarter:



1. A Grievance Redressal Rate of 50%
Efficient Mid Day Meal Delivery, Improving Teacher Regularity, and Punctuality in the school and classroom are some examples of issues parents have taken up and resolved on their own.
It has taken us 2 years to get here, but what we are witnessing now is that parents are able to resolve half the issues they raise all on their own.
This is unprecedented in the communities we work with. In a complex world, with rapidly changing contexts, co-designing interventions and leveraging local knowledge is the way to go forward.

2. Student Voices Reaching SMCs

Children feel confident when they witness SMC members regularly visiting the school. They know their concerns will be taken seriously and acted upon. Such articulation, such courage gives us hope.

3. Our Firsts In Haryana
Our journey in Haryana has been one of the impossible probabilities and improbable possibilities. We have many firsts in Sonipat with SMCs. SMC meetings happening for the first time, parents and principal inspecting the school together for the first time, our sessions happening for the first time.  

(Anti-clockwise: First SMC Meeting, First round, First round, First Session)

It takes time for people to reimagine the role and potential of parents as changemakers. We have taken long strides in Sonipat to enhance this sense of possibility with all stakeholders involved.  
_______________________________
Exaudio, Comperio, Conloquor. That's a Latin phrase which roughly translates into; To Listen, To Learn, To Speak. We have made an attempt to inculcate this phrase ourselves and in the communities, we work with.

We believe democratic governance demands that people listen to and speak to each other while being open to learning. Finding such people and enabling them to shine is what Samarthya is in the pursuit of.

We are not aiming for the stars, we are aiming just an inch higher.
Please do reach out to us for any queries. For regular updates, you can visit our facebook page.
 
There is a story about a guy walking down the street who falls in a hole. The walls are so steep he can't get out. "A doctor passes by and the guy shouts up, 'Hey you. Can you help me out?' The doctor writes a prescription, throws it down in the hole and moves on.

Then a priest comes along and the guy shouts up, 'Father, I'm down in this hole can you help me out?' The priest writes out a prayer, throws it down in the hole and moves on.

Then a friend walks by. The guy in the hole says 'Hey, Joe, it's me can you help me out?' And the friend jumps in the hole. Our guy says, 'Are you stupid? Now we're both down here. Joe says. 'Yeah but I've been down here before and I know the way out.'
_______________________________
Meet Nanhe Ram Ji. he is a resident of Gokalpur Village, He was an ex-SMC  (School Management Committee) member. We have worked with him for 2 years now.
The pictures below are from problem-solving sessions conducted with different SMCs, the one person that is common is Nanhe Ram Ji.


Nanhe Ram Ji now actively guides these SMCs in solving issues in school. He has often connected these SMCs with the right people in the right department who can solve the issue at hand. Whenever the SMCs in his area have found themselves in a metaphorical hole, he has jumped right in with them and said 'I have been here before, and I know the way out.'   
Local people having and sharing their agency to solve local problems is what is at the heart of Samarthya's mission. Enabling potential Joe's such as Nanhe Ram Ji is what Samarthya is in the pursuit of. You can know more about our work by watching the video below.

_______________________________
Please find below the 3 key updates from our last quarter:



1. A Grievance Redressal Rate of 50%
Efficient Mid Day Meal Delivery, Improving Teacher Regularity, and Punctuality in the school and classroom are some examples of issues parents have taken up and resolved on their own.
It has taken us 2 years to get here, but what we are witnessing now is that parents are able to resolve half the issues they raise all on their own.
This is unprecedented in the communities we work with. In a complex world, with rapidly changing contexts, co-designing interventions and leveraging local knowledge is the way to go forward.

2. Student Voices Reaching SMCs

Children feel confident when they witness SMC members regularly visiting the school. They know their concerns will be taken seriously and acted upon. Such articulation, such courage gives us hope.

3. Our Firsts In Haryana
Our journey in Haryana has been one of the impossible probabilities and improbable possibilities. We have many firsts in Sonipat with SMCs. SMC meetings happening for the first time, parents and principal inspecting the school together for the first time, our sessions happening for the first time.  

(Anti-clockwise: First SMC Meeting, First round, First round, First Session)

It takes time for people to reimagine the role and potential of parents as changemakers. We have taken long strides in Sonipat to enhance this sense of possibility with all stakeholders involved.  
_______________________________
Exaudio, Comperio, Conloquor. That's a Latin phrase which roughly translates into; To Listen, To Learn, To Speak. We have made an attempt to inculcate this phrase ourselves and in the communities, we work with.

We believe democratic governance demands that people listen to and speak to each other while being open to learning. Finding such people and enabling them to shine is what Samarthya is in the pursuit of.

We are not aiming for the stars, we are aiming just an inch higher.
Please do reach out to us for any queries. For regular updates, you can visit our facebook page.
 
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Goal: Rs.10,000

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