An initiative by, of and for the system
In the neighborhood government school, one can see an eleven-year-old girl scribbling over her worksheet and mulling over comprehension questions as the other students huddle around to help her. These students in Delhi are spending this year’s summer vacation learning something new in the summer camp that has been organised by the Delhi Government across 550 schools. The project is worthy of applause not just because it covers 1,500 teachers and 45,000 students, but because it is a first of its kind initiative by a government school system.
The Education Ministry of the Delhi Government is working closely with the Delhi Directorate of Education (DoE) and the state institution SCERT (State Council of Educational Research and Training) to transform how teaching and learning is being done in government schools. With the aim of revitalising the quality of education being provided, the Delhi government has increased their budget allocation for Education to 23% of the total budget ~ Rs 10,690 crore, the highest for any year. Apart from catering to the infrastructural needs, the major focus for the year is said to include training for teachers and principals for which they will also be sent to reputed international universities. Part of the funds will also concentrate on developing skills of students and strengthening sports activities in schools.
The Delhi Government’s “Model Schools” programme is one of their flagship initiatives to transform existing 54 schools in to ‘model schools’ in terms of quality of teaching and learning, with the strategic intent of expanding the programme to all of the one thousand Delhi Government schools. From strengthening learning outcomes to fostering creative thinking amongst children, from providing leadership training to principals and administrators to creating systems for continuous training and development of teachers, and from empowered school management committees to institutional mechanisms of academic support- the Delhi Government is working with various organisations to improve the quality of education in the capital.
Creatnet Education (CE), one of CSF’s partner organisations, is working with the DoE and SCERT on leadership development and capacity building of school leaders. Creatnet is also supporting training of Block Resource People (BRPs) to provide academic support to these school leaders. To extend support within the school, CE has worked with DoE to appoint Learning Managers (LMs) in each school to work with the school leader to support professional development of all teachers. Each LM has been appointed from within the existing teachers in that school. Alongside, the government has appointed retired ex-service men as Estate Managers in each school, to focus on all infrastructure related matters, and hence provide the much needed leverage to the school leaders.
While Creatnet is working toward building capacities for strengthening leadership in schools, Pratham and Jodo Gyan are working to enrich both subject matter knowledge and pedagogical approach of the teachers in the foundational skills of literacy and numeracy. To support this work, a separate cadre of ~two hundred Mentor Teachers (MTs) has been appointed to work directly with a cluster of ~five schools each. All District Institutes of Education Technology (DIETs) in the state are simultaneously supporting the transformation by focusing on learning and remediation programmers for grades 9 to 12.
What is interesting is that the work in Delhi has been extended to beyond just the school itself. Saajha, another CSF partner organisation, is working with the DoE to mobilise communities through School Management Committees, helping build accountability for schools. Organizations like Pratham and Saajha are leveraging technology to keep parents informed about what their children are learning in school on a real-time basis through messaging services.
DoE is also working to support the development of its middle management to provide the critical link of academic orientation and support between the administrators and practitioners. Kaivalya Education Foundation, another CSF partner organisation, with their extensive experience of working with government school leaders and administrators, has been brought on board to train the DoE zonal heads to support the overall transformation. The Government has also partnered with Absolute Return for Kids (ARK) to run whole school assessments. Under this programme, inspection teams visit schools regularly to assess for priority areas for development and help create a school improvement plan.
At CSF, we are excited to see the intent, commitment and holistic approach being adopted in Delhi. Each of the model schools is being led by a School Leader, who within the school has leverage from an Estate Manager and a Learning Manager; is getting pedagogical and teacher development support from Mentor Teacher at a cluster level; technical support on curriculum from state institutional network of SCERT and DIETs; academic support from BRPs and zonal heads; and an aware and engaged parent community.
This is a system-wide initiative focused on both teaching and learning, along with all other operational school processes. It aims to engage every stakeholder in the school by using existing institutional resources, and support their role toward achieving improvement in student learning. This integrated approach to providing quality education has created a new norm for how Government schools could be administered, managed and supported, providing an exemplary model for all other school systems in the country to learn from.