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

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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.

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15th February 2021
Dear Supporters,

Thank you for your support

15th February 2021 marks the fourth birthday of Samarthya. On the onset and on this momentous occasion, I want to unconditionally and unequivocally thank you for your support. We are grateful for your support and we look forward to more of it in the year to come. Today we are launching this video that summarizes the work of Samarthya, the organization you have helped build.


Today  I want to share with you 2 stories from the ground that I think epitomizes the spirit and the impact of the work we are trying to do at Samarthya. If after reading these testaments, you think this is the kind of world you want to contribute in building, consider donating to Samarthya. If you want to help in any non-financial capacity please do let us know.

Testament 1:

On 21st December 2020 something unfathomable happened, two women from a vulnerable community in North East Delhi got the Delhi Government to amend their decision around how School Management Committees would be reconstituted in the Government Schools of Delhi.

In the middle of a pandemic, when the schools were shut, a circular issued by the Delhi Government in July 2020 had laid out a 7 day window for parents of government school children to nominate themselves to become members of the School Management Committee. The circular laid out that an online draw of lots would be conducted to constitute SMCs in Delhi. This had never been done before by any state government.

During the pandemic states such as Punjab had extended the tenure of their older SMCs, states such as Haryana had postponed the elections of their Panchayats because conducting elections remained infeasible due to COVID.

These women, these former SMC members feared that the constitution of SMCs, by an opaque, exclusionary method such as draw of lots, if went unchallenged could become the norm and could take away the opportunity for parents to participate in choosing who will represent them in SMCs. They couldn't so casually give away their voice, their power, their opportunity to participate in building the future of their children.

These ordinary women found extraordinary courage to take the leap. They went to the Delhi High Court, challenged this circular and got the Delhi Government to acknowledge this as a stop gap emergency measure. On 21st December 2020, the Delhi Government submitted in court that elections will be held within two months of school reopening.   Samarthya's co-founder, Advocate Garima Sharma, led this fight for these women in the Delhi High Court.
Ordinary citizens overcoming their fears, standing up and speaking out is what keeps democracy going. These women, whom we have worked with so closely, have taught us that democracy is not a free ride, they have taught us that wanting change only during the election days doesn't cut it, you have got to want in all the days in between as well. They have reminded that in a democracy change does not come to the people, the change comes from the people.

Testament 2:

Pooja Ji is an SMC member in one of the schools we have worked with in Sonipat. At the onset of the pandemic, when the lockdown came in March, at the end of the academic year, a lot of children, especially those studying in government schools didn't have any textbooks of the new grade they were entering at the time.

Witnessing this as a challenge, Pooja Ji started going door to door working to enable a trickle down handover of books: Identifying children from different grades and asking them to give their books to students in the preceding grade. This way she ensured that at least 200-300 students in her community have access to textbooks from their grade during a stringent lockdown.
You can hear Pooja ji share her feat right here.
Ordinary people negotiating with the police, overcoming the resistance from their family and risking their well being to ensure the welfare of not one but all children of their neighbourhood government schools is the result of effective participatory governance.

Enabling this voice, this extraordinary action, this extraordinary ownership by ordinary citizens is what we are in the pursuit of. We are not aiming for the stars, we are aiming an inch higher. Please do reach out to us for any queries/ suggestions. For regular updates, you can visit our Facebook page.







Dear Supporters,

Thank you for your support

15th February 2021 marks the fourth birthday of Samarthya. On the onset and on this momentous occasion, I want to unconditionally and unequivocally thank you for your support. We are grateful for your support and we look forward to more of it in the year to come. Today we are launching this video that summarizes the work of Samarthya, the organization you have helped build.


Today  I want to share with you 2 stories from the ground that I think epitomizes the spirit and the impact of the work we are trying to do at Samarthya. If after reading these testaments, you think this is the kind of world you want to contribute in building, consider donating to Samarthya. If you want to help in any non-financial capacity please do let us know.

Testament 1:

On 21st December 2020 something unfathomable happened, two women from a vulnerable community in North East Delhi got the Delhi Government to amend their decision around how School Management Committees would be reconstituted in the Government Schools of Delhi.

In the middle of a pandemic, when the schools were shut, a circular issued by the Delhi Government in July 2020 had laid out a 7 day window for parents of government school children to nominate themselves to become members of the School Management Committee. The circular laid out that an online draw of lots would be conducted to constitute SMCs in Delhi. This had never been done before by any state government.

During the pandemic states such as Punjab had extended the tenure of their older SMCs, states such as Haryana had postponed the elections of their Panchayats because conducting elections remained infeasible due to COVID.

These women, these former SMC members feared that the constitution of SMCs, by an opaque, exclusionary method such as draw of lots, if went unchallenged could become the norm and could take away the opportunity for parents to participate in choosing who will represent them in SMCs. They couldn't so casually give away their voice, their power, their opportunity to participate in building the future of their children.

These ordinary women found extraordinary courage to take the leap. They went to the Delhi High Court, challenged this circular and got the Delhi Government to acknowledge this as a stop gap emergency measure. On 21st December 2020, the Delhi Government submitted in court that elections will be held within two months of school reopening.   Samarthya's co-founder, Advocate Garima Sharma, led this fight for these women in the Delhi High Court.
Ordinary citizens overcoming their fears, standing up and speaking out is what keeps democracy going. These women, whom we have worked with so closely, have taught us that democracy is not a free ride, they have taught us that wanting change only during the election days doesn't cut it, you have got to want in all the days in between as well. They have reminded that in a democracy change does not come to the people, the change comes from the people.

Testament 2:

Pooja Ji is an SMC member in one of the schools we have worked with in Sonipat. At the onset of the pandemic, when the lockdown came in March, at the end of the academic year, a lot of children, especially those studying in government schools didn't have any textbooks of the new grade they were entering at the time.

Witnessing this as a challenge, Pooja Ji started going door to door working to enable a trickle down handover of books: Identifying children from different grades and asking them to give their books to students in the preceding grade. This way she ensured that at least 200-300 students in her community have access to textbooks from their grade during a stringent lockdown.
You can hear Pooja ji share her feat right here.
Ordinary people negotiating with the police, overcoming the resistance from their family and risking their well being to ensure the welfare of not one but all children of their neighbourhood government schools is the result of effective participatory governance.

Enabling this voice, this extraordinary action, this extraordinary ownership by ordinary citizens is what we are in the pursuit of. We are not aiming for the stars, we are aiming an inch higher. Please do reach out to us for any queries/ suggestions. For regular updates, you can visit our Facebook page.







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.
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Goal: Rs.300,000

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