Improving quality of teachers in India through DIKSHA

September 14, 2017 by Ashish Dhawan, Central Square Foundation

Dear Friend,

At CSF, we are working on education system reform through funding innovative organisations, working on critical government projects and advocating for new policies. The central government and several states have accelerated education reform in the recent past.

Governmental Initiatives


Our Teachers, Our Heroes​. Teachers are undoubtedly the most important factor in helping students achieve learning outcomes. CSF and EkStep have worked closely with the MHRD and NCTE to ​introduce​ ​DIKSHA,​ ​a​ ​customisable national​ ​digital​ ​infrastructure​ ​for​ ​teachers that states, teacher education institutions (TEIs) and private entities can use for their respective teacher centric initiatives. ​ There is a great momentum on the platform with the centre, content partners, implementation partners and the wider ecosystem to continuously evolve the platform and make it more usable for teachers. DIKSHA was launched by Honorable​ ​Vice​ ​President​ ​of​ ​India,​ ​Shri.​ ​​Venkaiah​ ​Naidu​, on Teachers Day.


CSF is actively working with NCTE to strengthen pre-service teacher education space. In collaboration with Quality Council of India (QCI), it has recently designed TeachR: a ranking and accreditation framework for Teacher Education Institutes (TEIs). The TeachR framework will help distinguish high and low performing TEIs in terms of their physical/academic assets and teaching quality, and thus help prospective students seeking admission in TEIs make informed choices. NCTE has also embarked on an internal restructuring exercise to identify 3 key areas of intervention – IT systems, processes and manpower capacity building – where CSF is providing support. All these initiatives are eventually aimed at promoting academic excellence in TEIs.


As a part of our initiatives focused on assessing learning outcomes of students and offering key insights to the decision makers, CSF is supporting MHRD and NCERT in the roll-out of the current cycle of the district-level National Achievement Survey (NAS). In consultation with MHRD, a Programme Management Unit (PMU) has been set up at NCERT to strengthen the overall management and coordination of the process. In addition to providing management support, we are also building the web-application for NAS which would capture the survey data from States/UTs and generate automatic report cards with key insights for the stakeholders. This is the largest sample assessment in the world and will be conducted with 3.2 million students across every district in the country on 13th November, 2017.

Vocational and Employability Skills

CSF has been working closely with the government of Delhi for almost a year to strengthen the NSQF vocational programme running in about 250 schools. CSF partnered with QUEST Alliance to design and deliver a General Employability Module to complement the vocational programme, and equip the students with skills such as communication, confidence, and digital literacy which could potentially alter their life outcomes. CSF also partnered with Centum Learning to develop activity-based facilitator manuals to support the trainers to better deliver the existing content. Along with other members of the RMSA PMU, CSF facilitated a training programme for all vocational trainers under the NSQF scheme through a cascade model and rolled out the new modules in schools.

Partnership Initiatives

Over the course of the last quarter, our partners continued to invest their efforts in the education space.
Increasingly, there is a strong evidence base demonstrating that cognitive skills and life skills are complementary in influencing socio-economic outcomes, and that building such life skills can be life-changing for children from low-income backgrounds. CSF began a partnership with Learning Curve Life Skills Foundation, an organisation that works on developing life skills in children studying in low income private schools in Hyderabad. Learning Curve uses a multi-pronged approach, equipping teachers with the right mindsets, and providing lesson plans and tool kits for teachers to run sessions in the classroom. Currently, they work with around 3000 children and 140 teachers across 100 classrooms

Several other partners are doing innovative EdTech work. iTeach Schools continues to refine their blended learning pedagogy while The Nalanda Project has expanded to 230 classrooms and is now impacting 10,000 children in Pune, Mumbai, Delhi and Rajasthan. The Teacher App is planning to leverage on individual pedagogical experts and organisations with exemplar content to create 40 digital courses for teachers by the end of the year. This quarter, CSF in partnership with Khan Academy India reached out to a number of State governments to localise their platform to build local language platform. They are in the final stages of signing an MoU with the Government of Karnataka to contextualise their math and science content into Kannada.

In collaboration with CENTA, we launched a book on teaching practices – ‘Chalk and Challenges‘ – on Teachers Day. Written by 30 winning teachers from the Teaching Professionals Olympiads of 2015 and 2016, it provides perspectives on classroom culture, pedagogical tools, managing diversity, use of technology, and many more teaching practices.

To test hypothesis and refine implementation on parent engagement models, our Entrepreneur in Residence Programme EduStart is incubating Saarthi – an organisation working to enable parents, especially mothers, to contribute to their child’s academic, health and socio-cognitive development. Saarthi provides mothers ‘do-it-yourself’ activities and supports to deliver the same through phone calls and home visits. The first pilot with 109 parents began in May 2017 in Delhi.

I am extremely pleased with the progress in the last quarter. I express my heartfelt pride and gratitude to the entire CSF team for relentlessly working to provide effective solutions for millions of Indian children to access quality education. We hope to grow stronger and keep sharing our stories of change with you.


Ashish dhawan signature

Ashish Dhawan