Starting 2016 with New Opportunities, Goals and Reflections

March 31, 2016 by Ashish Dhawan, Central Square Foundation

Dear Friend,

Hope the first quarter of 2016 has been exciting for you, as it has been for us at Central Square Foundation (CSF). To begin with, we recently completed four years and I want to thank you for continued support as we took baby steps in making a mark in the Indian school education system.

As we take steps to enter our next phase of growth, we began the year by reflecting on the last four years and sharpening our focus in the areas of:

  • Grants to early stage social entrepreneurs with innovative ideas to improve quality of education for low income children
  • Ecosystem initiatives to create platforms for sharing knowledge and exploring opportunities for collaboration among practitioners, donors, researchers, policymakers and media
  • Research to develop insights on critical education issues
  • Advocacy to support governments at central, state and local levels to identify challenges in the education system, set a vision for quality improvement and undertake reform initiatives

One of our biggest accomplishments this quarter has been that we expanded our portfolio of thematic areas that we want to deepen our engagement in. We started exploring system reform as a critical lever to address the learning crisis in India. We collaborated with the Bharti Institute of Public Policy at the Indian School of Business to research on improving performance management systems within the education sector. As part of this research partnership, we are working on an outcome focused quality index to benchmark education systems. We are also developing an education management toolkit which could be used by the state governments to set education goals and prioritise reform initiatives to achieve these goals. In addition, we collaborated with Boston Consulting Group, Michael & Susan Dell Foundation and UNICEF to support Rajasthan’s Adarsh Yojana programme that aims to positively impact the quality of school education for atleast 4.6 million children by 2018, by improving quality of public education in the state.

Apart from system reform, we also started exploring the role that administrative officers such as Cluster Resource Coordinators (CRCs) and Block Resource Coordinators (BRCs) can play in holding schools, principals and teachers accountable to high quality of education delivery. Towards this, we made a grant to Kaivalya Education Foundation’s District Transformation Project which aims to train, coach and influence the middle management education officers in Surat district of Gujarat to effectively train school staff and execute administrative duties.

We continue to deepen our engagement in the area of technology for teacher development and made a grant to Eduposse and are helping them build a resource bank for teachers, which can be accessed through a technology platform on any internet-enabled device. This will provide byte-sized lesson planning resources to address gaps in conceptual knowledge of teachers, provide teaching methods for different topics and provide classroom aids such as worksheets.

As part of our ecosystem initiatives work, we organised a summit of Section 12(1)(c) of the Right to Education (RTE) Act where we launched the second edition of the State of the Nation: RTE Section 12(1)(c) report. This summit and report is a collaborative effort of RTE Resource Centre at IIM-Ahmedabad, Central Square Foundation, Accountability Initiative (Centre for Policy Research) and Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy. Through this summit that we plan to organise on an annual basis, moving forward, we hope to create a platform that can bring together stakeholders to provide a status-check of implementation, highlight key challenges and identify potential solutions as well as enable sharing of innovations, learning and experiences. At this summit, we also launched an online resource bank on Section 12(1)(c) called I would encourage you to visit this resource bank and if you have any feedback on the same, please feel free to share that with us.

In addition to Section 12(1)(c), we continued our efforts to build the ecosystem in the area of large scale assessments and we organised the third roundtable with stakeholders recently. At this roundtable, we discussed ideas around a status report on state learning achievement surveys, capacity building workshop for state assessment teams and a knowledge sharing platform to keep abreast of latest developments.

As part of our advocacy initiatives, we recently engaged with the Government of Andhra Pradesh and met Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu to share our recommendations on reform initiatives that the government should undertake to improve quality of education delivery in the state.

Finally, I want to share with you that we recently revamped our website and have launched an updated version that we hope will better reflect the nuances of our work. Please feel free to visit and share your feedback with us on the website.

On behalf of our team at CSF, thank you for the last four years and we hope to continue sharing more exciting updates from our work with you.


Ashish dhawan signature

Ashish Dhawan