Many NGOs have engaged local communities innovatively in school functioning through information dissemination and capacity building efforts in rural and urban contexts across India.
Before the implementation of the RTE Act in 2010, CfBT Education Trust worked with Academic Monitoring Committees (AMCs)—the existing management committees at the time—to empower rural women in Self Help Groups (SHGs) in 333 villages of Andhra Pradesh to play a key role in monitoring local government schools and holding them accountable for education quality.
CfBT undertook several initiatives to raise awareness and involve community members in school improvement. A key innovation was the design of a simple scorecard to assess school performance and guide community expectations on various dimensions of school quality such as student attendance and performance, utilisation of grants, teacher attendance, infrastructure and parent involvement in SMC meetings. Given a 70% illiteracy rate among the local SHG women, the scorecard was designed with illustrations of school processes and used traffic light indicators as a ratings system.
The findings from the intervention noted increased SMC meetings and improved responsiveness of school authorities to issues raised as well as in teacher and student attendance, student academic performance and the quality of the midday meals.
In Delhi, Saajha works with government schools to form, activate and build capacity of SMCs. Saajha provides capacity building through bi-annual workshops and on-the-ground support for principals, teachers and parents. The workshops focus on building motivation and greater collaboration among members as well as on management skills, motivation and peer learning. As part of on-ground support, the facilitator visits the school and community, six times and four times each month, respectively. Saajha also organises SMC-led events (Saajha Vishleshan Sabhas) where teachers and community volunteers come together to assess the reading levels of the children using ASER tools.
In 2015, Saajha was appointed by the Government of Delhi to train master trainers for formation and activation of SMCs in all its schools. They have also been a thought partner to the government on framing guidelines for SMC elections in the state.