The Global Education report 2014 ranked India in 168th position in a list of 234 countries clearly indicating the shoddy state of education India. In spite of being one of the fastest growing economies in the world, it still houses almost 37% of the world’s net illiterate rate. Although the path to access to education has improved over the decade with a number of Government legislatures, still, the number of people going to school is comparatively poorer.
The Education Alliance (TEA), an organization based in New Delhi is aiming to bring a change in the education imparted by the Government schools. With a number of professionally successful people in its team with Amitav Virmani as its CEO, they are partnering with the Government schools to help the government provide top-notch education to every single child. Their main target is to attain an effective partnership between “state and non-state actors”.
“Out of 9 million Government schools in the country, about 3 million schools don’t have quality teachers. So a number of children are leaving Government schools for private schools. Even the private schools are lacking good quality teachers. So my main aim is to try and fix the Government schools. The idea was to help the Government in the area where it is unsuccessful” said Amitav.
TEA takes over underperforming and under-enrolled government schools and works with them to improve the outcomes with the help of different non-profit organisations. In 2015, Education Alliance undertook a study of 500 schools under South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC). About 50 schools were hugely under-enrolled. The main problem was there weren’t good and qualified teachers and as a result, no one to motivate the kids of the surrounding areas to come to the school.
Amitav felt that the government intervention can help. He approached the Chairman of South Delhi Municipal Corporation(SDMC) to convince him to lend a helping hand to partner the government and the Non-profit organisations to deliver good quality education. TEA wanted to rebuild government School education system and make the parents believe in the government schools again.
Amitav said, “Parents want their children to come to school and learn. While giving them books, uniform and meals are important, if kids are not going to become literate, parents will eventually pull them out of the school.” They had to keep in mind this area. Resorting to investing money for upgrading the infrastructure wasn’t the only solution. TEA worked extensively on training the teachers, empowering the parents to put forward their demands on school and building accountability structures.
They launched their initiative with a Government school in SDMC Lajpat Nagar-III. In May 2015, the SDMC collaborated with Ark, a nonprofit organization to improve the quality of education and enrollment of the students in the Lajpat Nagar-III primary school. They first focused on the nursery and grade 1 classes. Through showcasing qualitative academic practice and community development program, Ark encouraged the parents to send their kids to the government school. The efforts bore fruit as the number of students enrolled in these classes shoot up to 120 students from a meagre 9 students. Thanks to the parents, the attendance level sprang up to 83%.
With the success of the Lajpat Nagar School, TEA came up with the School Quality Enhancement Program in 2016 to ensure better quality education and support to the students and parents alike. They moved on to partner with 12 more schools and today they are operating 30 schools under Municipal Corporation under this program in the 2016-2017 academic year.
— The Education Alliance (@Ed_Alliance) November 2, 2016
TEA is in charge of not only fulfilling academic responsibilities but also shoulders administrative duties like increasing enrollment of the children, keeping track of their attendance and collaborates with government school principals and teachers. They also conduct a parents-teacher meeting to encourage the parents to be involved in their children’s learning process.
The process was not very smooth though. “It took us two years to convince the Government”, says Amitav. Although he admitted that lack of credibility on his part and constant change of government slowed down the process. “Once we made it happen, a belief was born.” When The Logical Indian asked how he built his executive team, he said he approaches people from different professions who are currently running their own schools so that they can join hands and run the government schools. “I will call myself the Uber of education trying to aggregate the non-profit community to lend their helping hand to raise the quality of education.”
Amitav said, “We have seen a huge number of changes.” With their School Quality Enhancement Program, the enrollment and attendance number has gone up, enrollment has increased to 85%. The parents are very much involved with the education process and are aware of their children’s level and the kind of support they should provide for the overall development of their wards. Children have become more disciplined; they know the nuances of hygiene and sanitation, they come to school dressed prim and proper. They are equally concerned about women education. “If we see two siblings, a boy and a girl, we convince the parents to send both of them to school. 60% children enrolled in our school are girls”, Amitav stated, which is a positive change.
Regarding their future prospects, Amitav said, “With our team, we are aiming to reach to 50 schools under the Municipal Corporations next year. I am also aiming to take this concept and program to other states.” Through the detailed and structured partnership program, TEA aims to bring out the best of their nonprofit partners with the help of the resources provided by the government to create a sustainable, meaningful and far-reaching change. He says, “I want the government to come up with a policy so that this can become more sustainable over time and we don’t have to rely on charitable organizations.” The schools are currently funded 80% by the Government and 20% by philanthropic organizations. Their target is to achieve full funding by the Government as that will boost up the school quality. He wants that “Every parent will have ‘real choice’ again. Choice of good quality schools, including those run by Government.” The Logical Indian community wholeheartedly supports the steps undertaken by The Education Alliance and wishes them all the very best for their endeavour.
For more details visit: The Education Alliance
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