Partnership to improve quality in Government Schools
Taking note of GyanShala’s success in ensuring high lerning levels in its own managed classes, the government invited GS to start a pilot quality improvement program in a representative sample of Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) Schools over 2007-11. A set of 23 schools were randomly chosen for implementing the pilot and another set of randomly selected schools were identified as the control-comparison group to study the program impact.
The AMC school teachers adopted GS curriculum material and pedagogy, and children were provided similar teaching-learning material used in GS classes. GS trained AMC school teachers in its pedagogy and use of its learning material, and deployed a small team of experienced staff to support teachers in the program implementing.
In the first year, the program covered around 2000 children studying in grade 1. In subsequent years, the existing batches moved one grade up, and a new grade 1 class was brought under the program coverage. The program covered around 7800 children and around 190 teachers of grades 1-4 in the year 2009-10.
The analysis of students’ test score over 2008-09 and 2009-10 by Educational Initiative, an independent agency, showed that the program helped raise children’s score in math and language competencies, compared to children’s score in other AMC schools, by 25-65%, across subjects and grades. The program cost came to Rs. 500-650/- per child per year. AMC normally spends almost Rs. 18,000/- per child per year on running its school. A learning gain of 25-65% for an additional spending of Rs. 600/- per child made this program a good investment of resources.
In the year 2010-11, the program ran into opposition from a group of teachers and elected members of the AMC school board. This is not uncommon in working with the government system. Consequently, the program was suspended for 2010-11. Some people referred the issue to the top political leadership of the state, pointing out that a program benefitting around 8000 children had been discontinued. The State leadership decided that the program curriculum would be referred to the Gujarat State Council of Education Research (GCERT), and could be resumed on being cleared by it. GCERT cleared the GS curriculum with some suggestions for improvement, all of which were acceptable to GS., but due toi political resistance at the local level, the program could not restart, in spite of top level support from politico-administrative set up.
Building on this experience, though, Gyan Shala could secure agreement of the Government of Bihar to initiate a 4 year pilot in 7300 schools, mostly rural, in four districts of Bihar, to introduce the curriculum and class practices developed by Gyan Shala. It was decided that under the pilot, each child will receive daily worksheet, for each subject, as happens in GyanShala.