CSF’s new commitment to quality school education: Prashikshak

June 30, 2016 by Ashish Dhawan, Central Square Foundation

Dear Friend,

Recently, the Government has taken many initiatives towards strengthening the education ecosystem. Together with collective impact and continued efforts, we can enable the present as well as future generations to have access to better quality education. The last quarter has been progressive for CSF as we explored new thematic areas and helped our partners achieve new milestones.

We are extremely proud to have collaborated with MHRD in launching ‘Prashikshak‘ – India’s first online data portal and monitoring system for District Institutes of Education and Training (DIETs) in the country. The portal was launched by former HRD Minister Smt. Smriti Irani. Prashikshak will strengthen DIETs to ensure excellent knowledge and skills for teachers. It will also help DIETs make better decisions using data, assist policy makers in tracking focus areas for intervention, increase accountability and transparency, and allow aspiring teachers to make informed choices as they can compare and select the institutes of their choice.

Highlighting the importance of school leadership for education transformation in India, two of our grantees, India School Leadership Institute (ISLI) and Creatnet Education continue to show strong growth and success. ISLI kicked off the 2016 City Fellowship with 223 school leaders across Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Pune. ISLI Leaders’ Network, was launched in Delhi, Pune and Mumbai which allows ISLI fellows to partner with high-impact schools. Its first cohort of 8 school leaders in Delhi will soon be completing the programme and joining the Alumni programme in August 2016.

As an implementation partner for Delhi Government’s Model Schools Programme,Creatnet Education successfully completed training their first batch of 54 schools leaders. School leaders in these schools are now also being supported by a new cadre of Learning Managers to focus on professional development of all teachers in their respective schools. The programme is now being expanded to work with all ~1,000 government schools in a cluster approach. It will bring together school leaders, block & cluster resource people and mentor teachers.

We are also working closely with the Maharashtra Government to support them in their efforts to transform SCERT (State Council of Educational Research and Training) into a more rigorous and structured institution for teacher education. As part of this reform agenda, they are also building a Teacher Education Portal which was inaugurated by Shri Vinod Tawde, Education Minister Maharashtra in June 2016. The portal will enable teacher training in a differentiated and effective way, aiming to reach all teachers in the state.

Deepening our engagement on large scale assessments at the national and the state level we continued to advise the MHRD and the NCERT on the roll-out of a census assessment for Classes 1 to 8. In addition to it, we have been an active member of the National Expert Group for Assessment in School Education (NEGASE), we assisted MHRD led committee to define learning outcomes. We have also partnered with Centre for Science of Student Learning (CSSL) to strengthen capacity at the state level to conduct rigorous assessments.

This quarter also marked the beginning of a new project in developing a quality improvement marketplace for private schools. We have taken our first step in this direction by launching a newsletter School Leaders’ Avenue to Excellence (SLATE) – for private schools. We are currently piloting this newsletter in Delhi, Bhopal, Jaipur and Bangalore through our partner organisations.

Exploring new thematic areas, we are excited about our very first initiative in the space of vocational education in secondary education. We have begun exploring the provision of job readiness and employability skills in the secondary school space. Through this project, CSF will collaborate with the Delhi Government to provide project management support to strengthen the implementation of vocational courses in secondary schools. These would include addition of general employability skills to the curriculum, innovations around teacher training, streamlining industry exposure— and can serve as a model for other states implementing this scheme.

In continuation with our tradition of bringing together different players in the education system, we organised a convening on blended teacher professional development. All our grantees working in this area shared their journeys, challenges and learning with each other over the course of a long and informative day. Monitoring and evaluation of teacher training emerged as a common area of concern and we look forward to working on that collectively.

In an attempt to empower teachers, CSF has incubated ‘The Teacher App’ under the leadership of Vinod Karate. He and his team have begun developing a mobile application which will host short interactive courses for teachers in different content areas. Adding to the portfolio of successful projects this quarter, our partner EduPosse launched ChalkLit, a mobile application which aims to provide teachers with curriculum-mapped bite-sized resources which enable them to plan high-quality lessons. They conducted a pilot with over 100 teachers in Delhi and are now using feedback collected from teachers to modify product design and strengthen the process of resource curation. 

As a part of our data initiatives, we have collaborated with the National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE) and MHRD to access current demand and projected demand of teachers across the country. The study will allow for greater understanding of the current status of teachers in position at different school stages, teacher vacancies, enrolment of students at different school stages and pupil-teacher ratio as per current norms of RTE act and RMSA guidelines. Besides our nation-wide study on teachers, we have partnered with the Delhi Government, to conduct a state-wide analysis to estimate the demand for new schools in Delhi for the next 10 years. The study estimates the demand for new schools across all school managements and school levels and enables the Delhi Government to be better prepared to accommodate the growing needs of Delhi’s education system.

To strengthen our engagement with experts and other stakeholders, we also launched EdKnowledge, a monthly compilation of resources in school education in India. Our first edition was a compendium of reports, news, articles and experts’ voice focused on Large-Scale Assessments. If you would like to get regular updates on various innovative resources and policy interventions in the area of school education, I would urge you to subscribe here.

We are looking to expand our portfolio by funding more organisations working in the space of Edtech, School Leadership, Assessments and more. If you know somebody who is really making a difference and has an appetite for scale, do write to info@centralsquarefoundation.org

I am also pleased to share with you that Amitav Virmani, CEO, The Education Alliance, has joined the CSF board and will provide us strategic direction to enhance the impact of our work.

Last but not the least, I express my heartfelt pride and gratitude to the entire team of CSF for tirelessly working and developing Prashikshak. On behalf of the entire team at CSF, I would like to thank you all for your constant support and appreciation. We hope to grow much stronger and keep sharing our stories of change with you.


Ashish dhawan signature

Ashish Dhawan