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PROGRAM REPORTS
PROGRAM STATISTICS
   
 

Implementation

The programme was implemented in 117 Government schools and 9 corporation schools across Bangalore City. Content has been developed in two languages: Kannada & Urdu. Though initial assessments were carried out in November 2004, due to several reasons, the programme was completed in March 2005.

Akshara's role

  • Design teaching learning material (TLM)
  • Capacity Building for teachers, CRP's, BRP's
  • Share 50% of programme cost with the SSA
  • Distribute TLM or a regular basis
  • Ensure smooth implementation - play trouble-shooter
  • Akshara's primary role has been capacity building & coordinating the distribution of teaching material. To begin with, Akshara conducted baseline training for government schoolteachers in South2 & North 2 Education Blocks on the principle of the accelerated reading technique, the different reading levels, criteria for categorization, & the relevant documentation to be maintained.

     

    ARP Trainer Ravi Kumar makes a child read at the demonstration class-Government School Teacher Training.

     

    An Interesting Discrepancy!


    However, despite the wide range of reactions from the teaching fraternity, as the discussion on the methodology progressed, an interesting discrepancy was observed. On realizing the potential of the ARP, some teachers openly expressed errors in reporting the baseline data. For the fear of being admonished or just plain complacency, teachers admitted to have underestimated the number of children needy of the programme (in 0, L, W reading levels). They threw up an astronomic number- they claimed nearly 60% of children in nearly every school were in the programme category.
    This created a huge logistic pandemonium for one simple reason_ the programme detailed 20 children to be tutored by one teacher. In many schools, if all the needy children were to be considered, the child: teacher ratio was exceeding 40:1. There were few teachers but a large number of children.

    Hence a logistic decision was taken: a maximum of 50% of the total number of teachers in each school were to be considered for implementing the programme. The programme was divided in two phases such that all needy children would be enrolled. Once the baseline data was established, the Akshara training team conducted a day’s training on the methodology of the accelerated reading technique- 3 batches of Kannada teachers and 2 batches of Urdu teachers were trained in the accelerated reading technique.

    The training was done in an informal setting. Experiences & learning from the pilot programmes was shared with the teachers. Teachers from pilot schools shared their personal experiences and observations with their peers. A detailed discussion on the methodology followed.

    The response was a mixed bag- while some teachers were excited about the methodology; others expressed their unwillingness to be involved with the programme. They cited historic reasons: they were over-burdened, loaded with extra duties (like census, survey’s, other training, etc.). They disagreed with the basic analogy that the system required some correction, claimed their teaching was supreme, refuted anomalies, - they were essentially a hostile lot.

    Simultaneously, a training session for the CRP’s & BRP’s was held to orient them towards the goal of the programme, monitoring issues, their role & possible problem areas.
    A blueprint for implementation approved by the Block Education Office was established.
    Story cards were to be distributed each time by Akshara volunteers to maintain continuous contact with the teachers/schools. Assessments were to be carried out by the teachers every 15 days, & Akshara volunteers were responsible to collate data from all the schools.

    Government Role

  • Detail primary school teachers to implement the programme
  • Share 50% of the programme cost with Akshara
  • Monitor implementation through CRP's & BRP's
  • Engage as a partner to initiate change in the existing government school system
  • Having partnered with a private Foundation, the government has demonstrated a strong commitment to initiate change within in its system. Acknowledging the need for such a programme spoke volumes about the proactive stance of the Government of Karnataka. BEO's have been helpful. In S2, fortnightly meetings in the BEO's presence (with CRP's, BRP's & Akshara volunteers) were held to monitor the progress of ARP. This enabled timely problem solving.

    Checks & Balances


    Selection of Schools: A database of schools in the block, with teacher & student strength was established. Based on the number of children who qualified for the programme, considering that each center would have 20 children (with mixed reading abilities); schools were asked to nominate >50% of their teacher strength to attend ARP training assuming that each teacher would handle 20 children (1 center). This ensured that only interested teachers enrolled for the training. This also counter-checked the schools’ commitment to partake in the programme. 99% of teachers trained in the accelerated reading technique by Akshara have successfully implemented the programme in their respective schools.

    Story Card Distribution: A maximum of 4 cards were distributed at one time. Since Akshara volunteers were in no position to monitor the programme directly; periodic visits to the schools in the garb of story-card distribution helped cross-check whether the programme was being implemented effectively.

    Assessments: Once the baseline was established, children were assessed after the 15th, 30th, 38th, and 45th story card; assessments were designed to monitor progress of the child. The scope enabled documentation from 0 to para level; 0 level child could (may/may not) progress to P level within the 45-story card span. It was widely observed that children learnt faster after the completion of 30th story card. Hence the 38th story-card assessment was introduced.

    In addition, dipstick surveys by Akshara volunteers were conducted. Schools were randomly selected & Akshara volunteers assessed children. This validated the credibility of compiled data (furnished by teachers).

     

    Secretary, Primary and Secondary Education, Govt. of Karnataka, visiting the ARP Class.

     

    Hurdles/ Problem Areas

  • Primary Teachers Association opposed the programme: they argued that teachers were already hassled with extraneous duties and this programme would be an additional additional burden. Their opposition was difficult to overcome in the initial phase. Teachers chose to distance themselves from the programme; getting them enrolled was a huge challenge.
  • Monitoring suffered: Though conceptually the programme was to be monitored by CRP’s & BRP’s, ensuring that classes were being conducted in the stipulated time (between 2 – 3:30pm) proved difficult. Akshara volunteers were in no position to monitor classes directly as teachers were averse to any outsiders’ presence (other than education department officials) during class hours.
  • Children not part of the programme had to be attended to during ARP classes – those not enrolled in the ARP were found loitering around without guidance and had to be
    engaged in constructive activities.
  • Space constraint: Accommodating non-programme children in separate classrooms was difficult; schools were small and number of classrooms not adequate.
  •  

    Commissioner for Public Instructions, Govt. of Karnataka makes a child read at the ARP Class.

     

  • Untrained teachers implement ARP: In some schools, the ARP trained teachers were not implementing the programme. Instead an unconnected/untrained teacher was asked to conduct ARP classes; their understanding about ARP was poor. Hence the programme suffered.
  • One-off Training: there was no scope for Akshara trainers to periodically interact with the trained teachers to solve their queries and doubts.
  • School Administration apprehensive: they were disinterested in a new programme initiated by an external agency. They were unwilling to accept an external agency conceptualizing a programme for their government school children.
  • Teachers uneasy: they were not comfortable with the school zone coordinator’s (Akshara volunteer) presence inside the ARP class.
  • Enrolling CRP’s & BRP’s difficult: Getting them to emphasize on the ARP during their school visits, to create a systemic pressure on the teachers, was not possible.
  • Akshara Staff – lack of focus: As Akshara volunteers were involved in other programmes of the organization; they were unable to spend focused time on the ARP. There were noticeable shortcomings on their part – data was not compiled on time, visits to schools were irregular.
  • Story cards – children unwilling to return: Children did not want to return the cards. They considered the story cards as their personal treasure and did not want to part with them.
  • Assessment formats not returned on time: a slight delay from the teachers’ end to conduct assessments and hand in the formats was noticed. Common reasons cited include – lack of time to conduct assessments. This made data compilation difficult.
  • Learning

    Implementation plan vital: Inputs from the Education Department about the number of children, teachers and schools to be involved is essential to plan successful implementation.

    Formulate dipstick assessment schedule: Besides the worked-out assessment schedule and the one-time dipstick survey conducted in this phase, there is a need to formulate a separate schedule for routine dipstick assessments by Akshara volunteers. This would help furnish accurate data and validate established documentation.

    Create separate teams for ARP: Both within Akshara and the existing government structure, it would be prudent to have separate teams overlooking implementation of the ARP. These costs should be built into programme budgets in order to assist successful implementation. At present CRP's, BRP's, Akshara volunteers alike were multi-tasking.

    Strengthen monitoring: Monitoring had to be done by officials of the Education Department (CRP, BRP) only - teachers were hostile to any outsider presence. In this phase, it was clear that monitoring was a problem area. To address this, a proactive mechanism has to be worked out such that Akshara volunteers & Education Department personnel exchange feedback/observations at periodic intervals to address problems that arise and take corrective action.

    Community involvement: Engaging the community as an active stakeholder in the learning process would help build in adequate pressure on school authorities to ensure successful implementations.

    Design new TLM1 : Story cards have been widely appreciated: the design, colour, quality and content have contributed equally to attract teachers and children. However, it has been noticed that TLM has not been completely successful in bringing the 0 level children to the P level. This issue has to be addressed. TLM for 0 level children has to be increased; each child could be given a laminated Ottakshara chart.

    Story-card cost proving high: In the current form, story-cards were costing nearly Rs.150/child. This has to be reduced to increase outreach. However, the issue is complex: the colorful cards have been the key to attract children. Recycling the cards could be an option although children are upset at the thought of returning the cards.

    Methodology well defined: It has been found that the methodology is clear & well defined; in some cases even untrained teachers have been able to implement ARP and produce desired results.

    Child's ability to grasp: There has been some debate on whether to introduce a new story card every day or once in two days. However, phase 1 has proved that children have reacted very positively to a new card each day. This must not be changed. Their ability to comprehend is far beyond our imagination.

    Rework training schedule: There is a need to engage in periodic training. Teachers must have forums to interact with Akshara resource people and clarify doubts. This will produce better results. As the programme gets up-scaled, the ARP trained teachers could be used as resource personnel to propagate their learning/experiences from the ARP. Exposure visits to ARP classes could be included as part of training.

    Involve DIET2 & DSERT3 : Slot in their involvement as part of monitoring and evaluation. Their involvement will also gratify the initiation of the systemic change.

    Urdu Schools - Kannada cards: Convinced about the effectiveness of the methodology, Urdu schools have expressed a need to introduce Kannada cards to improve reading ability of their children in Kannada.

     

    Deputy Director for Public Instructions - South, Dept. of Education, Govt. of Karnataka visiting the ARP Class.

     

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