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Strategies to consider for CSR in school education


Posted on August 9, 2018 | by Vinod Kakumanu

If you are thinking to commit CSR funds for improvement of a school and want to go beyond upgrading the infrastructure and add value to the educational ecosystem it is very essential to understand in detail how those who have secured such educational systems in the world actually did it.

In India, to open a school is a challenging task and amidst the need of official permissions and bureaucratic mechanism involved, the average school promoter could hardly find time or will to look at the raised bars of education. When an enterprise is proactively investing CSR funds it must make sure to incorporate what has originally been omitted – sound data on prevalent practices in school education from best practitioner nations.

The information that follows is of great relevance to the entrepreneurs who have selected school education as their field of social contribution.  As industrialists, you must have compared economic attributes of different nations. By having a look at how the different economies of the world have framed their education structure, you will be able to discern the critical measures or derive certain thumb rules of CSR intervention in education.

The World Economic Forum (WEF) releases its annual Global Competitiveness Report on the state of the economies of the world. The report comes after the forum assesses the abilities of the countries in order to provide a higher level of ability to its citizens which generally depend on how a country manages its available resources among which the human resources are of critical import.

Ranking of the countries is based on twelve indicators which include primary education too. Prior to any CSR initiative made in the field of improvement of the quality of education the following data must be reviewed. It will really be of aid in understanding the values and structure of education, so you can intervene productively.

 

Japan: a knowledge economy, can easily be said to have an education system to reckon with. it leads in terms of literacy, science, and math education among the OECD group.

Students in Japan undergo six years of elementary school, three years of junior high school, and three years of high school before they decide whether or not they want to pursue the university education. Although high school is not compulsory in Japan yet the enrolment in high school is close to 98%.

 

Barbados: The government of this small island country stresses on education exceptionally. That has resulted in a literacy rate of 98% which is one of the highest in the world and an enviable education system.

 

New Zealand: Primary and secondary education in New Zealand ranges between the age 5 to age 19, and the school remains compulsory between ages 6 and 16. The 3 types of secondary schools in New Zealand include state schools –roughly equivalent to our government schools, state integrated schools; which can be understood as sort of PPP schools and the last category is that of private schools.

The contrast with the Indian education system is inescapable given the fact that state schools which educate approximately 85% of students and private schools only educate 3 %.

 

Estonia: This European union country spends 4% of its Gross Domestic Product on education Estonia’s  education act states that “the goals of education are to create an environment that encourages proper development of personality, family, and growth of the Estonian nation, to encourage the development of ethnic minorities, economic, political as well as the cultural life in Estonia and to teach the children of the country the value of their citizenship.” This gives an insight into the characteristics of the education system which emphasizes on equality of opportunity, something which we are struggling to bring even with RTE and SSA.

 

Ireland:  Ireland presents a unique picture among others we have discussed. Most of the secondary schools in Ireland are owned and managed privately but they remain funded by the state only; it is plausible to equate them with PPP schools. This in itself is a prospect that can be further researched and selectively applied in Indian scenario with the support of the corporates.

 

Qatar: Besides measures to diversify the economy which requires a skilled human resource, Qatar is paying a lot of attention to improve its educational standards as part of the Qatar Vision 2030 programme. The education is completely free for the Qatari citizens but children coming from the families of other nationalities have to send their kids to private schools. like in other Gulf countries Indian diaspora is interested in giving their children Indian education and are opening schools affiliated to CBSE and ICSE, which are indeed very popular. Funders can learn a lot by analyzing the factors that make the difference and come up with solutions to replicate it.

 

Netherlands:  The children of the Netherlands were judged to be the” happiest” in the world in a 2013 study conducted by UNICEF. This, according to some analysts, reflect that the education system is optimal and efficient. Schools are not allowed to give much homework until the students reach secondary level resulting in less stress and pressure among them.

 

Singapore: India has scored dismally low in the Programme for International Student Assessment test (PISA), Singapore scored tremendously high in PISA. An evaluation of education to ascertain the quality is in order and funds may be channeled to that end.

 

Belgium: Belgium’s education system is divided into 4 different kinds of secondary schools, which are general secondary schools, the technical secondary schools, vocational secondary education schools, and the art secondary education institutes. The private schools are available to all children between the ages of 4 and 18, at a very little or no cost at all.

 

Switzerland: As opposed to India, a meager 5% of children attend private schools in Switzerland. Switzerland offers multiple languages according to different regions of Switzerland, with German, French or Italian being the most common medium of instruction. the point is to make the instruction comprehensible to children from across the social realms. Measures which can do the same can be facilitated by the corporates while helping schools to elevate the quality of education in India.

 

Finland: Finland’s education system and its results assure its top position in the rankings of global education systems. The school education is particularly known for having no categories among students which clearly means that all pupils, regardless of their ability, are taught in the same classes. The Indian education system also has the same classes for all students, bright or otherwise, but the pedagogy tends to tilt towards the need of the bright students. While in Finland, the gap between the weakest and the strongest student remains substantially less. In fact, India would rank high in academic performance variation in a class, if there is an evaluation measuring inequity.

Finland’s education system can generate several replicable versions of teacher’s attitudes and approaches. Corporates can evaluate the education system of Finland and incorporate elements in their sponsored education teacher training programmes to great consequence.

 

So before the enterprises design an initiative to intervene in the community by improving the standards of education, it is good idea to study the facts in detail about the various education systems that exist globally and then take the best cue from them and plan the operationalization of the initiative by emulating what’s worth and avoiding what the study cautions against.

Don’t just open a school, start a school that is ‘smart’


Posted on August 9, 2018 | by Vinod Kakumanu

Typical classrooms inspire a scene with rooms equipped with blackboards, pencils strewn around and stockpiled notebooks. With the advent of education technology, the picture is changing. Now, it is not a “far-fetched” or “futuristic” to picture a school where monitors, computers, laptops, tablets, and smartphones abound.

 

Recent advances in technology have also entered our schools turning them into smart schools constituted by smart classrooms, and the trends reflect that the improvements are met with performance and appreciation, thanks to numerous benefits and wide opportunities that school technology provides to both the students and their teachers. By successfully and seamlessly integrating technology with traditional classroom learning we are witnessing increased student performance in schools. Credit is due for a truly smart classroom. So if you are thinking to start a school it is an excellent choice to make a smart school which will herald change, success and advance development of its students.

Prior to deciding to establish a school, it is pertinent to learn about the ways how smart classrooms are helping students and teachers in raising the bar:

 

An Evolved Pedagogy:

Blended learning comprising of both traditional learning and the cutting edge technology keeps online learning and interpersonal communication tied up together to create a smart classroom. When one chooses to start a school with technologically aided curricular implementation, one benefits from the effectively blended transmissive pedagogy with pedagogy-technology interface by guaranteeing the student engagement and efficient learning.

Technological advancement in schools also makes administrative tasks easier and thus makes teaching-learning more convenient. Teachers, with the help of digital learning, can now upload lectures, videos, and assignments to specifically created mobile applications. Students have access to these apps anywhere and at any time. Class-specific online platforms help teachers to store grades and attendance records of every student in their class, making it easier for students and parents to check them.

 

Smart Wearables, Dynamic Adoption of Technology for Schools

Smart classrooms are not limited to computers and tablets, in fact, wearable technology like smartwatches and smart wristbands are making their space in schools even faster. Using smart wristwatches and wristbands, teachers would be able to take attendance almost instantly and in case of younger students who go on field trips, use of wearable technology would help teachers to make sure that no child wanders away. In boarding schools, wardens can also use wearable technology like watches and bands to ensure that children are getting enough sleep.

 

Widening the Dimensions of Communication

People all across the school campus are connected with smart networks. Monitors placed in individual classrooms helps to be in direct connection with the main school office. The monitors provide ease in streaming school messages regarding daily announcements, circular and updates and emergency notifications. Thus the students and teachers will remain in the know of all the developments and administrative decisions pertaining to them.

 

Deriving Personalised Learning through Data Analysis

Access to analytics is one of the best things about smart classrooms, so when you start a school,  the information which is gathered from other schools can be used to personalize learning and then plan accordingly to suit and actualize every student’s individual needs and abilities. To make such a scenario possible one has to establish a school where the school principal, teachers and parents are versed in analytics to create a better learning environment. It will help teachers to use live analytics to monitor each and every student’s progress and students can receive a timely feedback from the online tests they take. When one starts an analytics-enabled school it will help teachers to also pass important data to parents which will help them support their child whenever needed.

 

The Best Learning Environment

It’s undeniable that a blend of interactive and transmissive classroom learning will continue to play a pivotal role in school education, yet fast growing technologies deserve attention simply because they facilitate higher-level learning with greater retention to boot. Bringing monitors, laptops, tablets, and wearables into schools and the very popular BYOD i.e. ‘bring your own device’ trend will provide teachers and administrators an opportunity to enhance and better the teaching and learning experience and the experience with educational technology recorded as collected data will aid in progressive pedagogical aims like personalized learning.

Although one should be mindful when one establishes a school with smart classrooms that technology do not compensate for the competence and qualification of the teachers, neither does it singlehandedly boost repute of the school brand overnight, what they can do is bring proximity between knowledge and intellect and increase the rate of learning.

Accreditation of schools testifies quality of school education


Posted on August 8, 2018 | by Vinod Kakumanu

There have been scores of surveys, national and international, that have reported our relative standing in terms of quality of school education and, to put it mildly, it is not to be proud of at any stretch of the imagination. We have dealt with the question of quality of education in several posts and have underscored the drastic difference in the quality of school education provided by private schools. In the present article, we will talk about the standardization of the quality of education and the policy level measure for it namely, accreditation.

Accreditation is not to be confused with affiliation. The latter precedes the former. In fact the board of affiliation viz. CBSE has devised a mechanism for accreditation of schools affiliated to it. There have been suggestions calling for far-reaching measures like accreditation renewal every three years and making accreditation mandatory under Quality Council of India. Presently, the quality of school education which accreditation attests has proven to be a useful parameter for the community and a benchmark for the school management. The accreditation of schools is an assessment of the quality of education the school has potential to provide and it has objectively set parameters against which the assessment is done.  These include Education Quality Management, Resource Management, Governance, and Management.

The accreditation of schools is sometimes outsourced by the national boards including CBSE. These private institutions have, to the board’s satisfaction, the capability to assess a school in terms of quality of education it imparts.

The agencies that accredit the schools are Quality Council of India (QCI) and National Accreditation Board of Education & Training (NABET).

National Accreditation Board for Education and Training (NABET) provides accreditation to schools, It can be understood as a counterpart of higher education accreditation body NAAC.

The process of accreditation would desirably aim at analyzing the substantive aspects rather than just infrastructure and student-teacher ratio etc. as the CBSE bye-laws are getting to change substantially accreditation mechanism will also be influenced by the changes. As the definition of quality of education and concentration on the elements composing it change, the rules of accreditation change.

CBSE has sought the guidance of the Quality Council of India to structure and operationalize a quality assessment mechanism applicable to all schools affiliated to the CBSE board.

CBSE has tried to develop an independent assessment mechanism to assess schools for accreditation with the help of QCI, but till date, it continues to recruit help from multiple external agencies to form accreditation empaneled committees for assessing the institutions comprehensively.

 

The significance of accreditation for a school

Accreditation of a school shall signify that the school abides with the standards set by the board and has the resources to maintain the standard of the parameters that signify the quality of education

There have been directives in the past which were rescinded yet their reinforcement cannot be ruled out. One of the episodic directive issued by the CBSE directed every affiliated school to get accredited within three years.

We have specifically discussed hitherto accreditation process and history of accreditation in the context of CBSE and have not dealt with other boards. The reason for it is that the accreditation empaneled committees are formed by ICSE boards too and the agencies which are given the mandate to assess the quality of education are liable to change from year to year. It can be said without a shred of doubt that assessment of the quality of education and accreditation is critical for all the stakeholders including the students. The accreditation score provides the students, teachers, parents, community and educationists etc. the information about the assets and wants of the school in terms of infrastructure, human resource, and performance.

 

How is the accreditation carried out?

The school applies for accreditation online. The application is accompanied by what is called the School Quality Assessment and Accreditation Scheme (SQAAS) details. The SQAAS details incorporate information regarding students, teachers, qualification of the teachers and the head of the school, state of infrastructure, labs, and library, and sports and games arrangements. In addition to that, documents and a list of attested documentary evidence have to be made available.  There exists a Peer Assessment Team (PAT) to evaluate the data provided by the school.  The PAT that would decide the substance in the candidature for accreditation. It would visit only those schools which cross the 50 percent threshold in the SQAAS process.

Data-informed by responses to the questionnaires given out to students, teachers and the non-teaching staff besides the parents is also analyzed by PAT.

There have been emphatic suggestions that accreditation of a school must imminently follow affiliation to CBSE. If the school is given the privilege of calling itself a CBSE school it must get accredited too. CBSE were to use School Quality Assessment and Accreditation (SQAA) as its assessment device for assessing the functions of the schools.

 

What accreditation indicates?

It is believed that the school accreditation decidedly upgrades the quality of the functions of the school thereby bettering the educational outcomes. The obvious benefits notwithstanding, it is not yet mandatory for the schools to be accredited.

The agencies that are empaneled for the accreditation inspection approve a school to be accredited or otherwise by evaluating a set of parameters

  • Education Quality Management
  • Resource Management
  • Governance and Management

Once the school is accredited, it needs to adhere to the accreditation standard and indulge in continual improvement.

An accredited school can be vouched for its quality of education and the school management can consider it as a successful self-evaluation that verifies the propriety of the aspects of management as well as financial sustainability and most importantly, the human resources.

Emphasize Infrastructure when opening a school


Posted on August 4, 2018 | by Vinod Kakumanu

While deliberating on the construction of the building in the course of opening a new school, one comes across a typical observation, worded differently but essentially meaning the same thing which is — that for anyone who loves to read and learn, any place can be good enough. Acquisition of knowledge transcends the physical instrumentalities which stop mattering beyond a point.

We beg to differ.

It is disingenuous to deny that you do need a well-planned, quiet and ordered place to bolster concentration of the students and help them assimilate everything they read and learn. And in terms of ongoing progressive education trends, having classrooms for learning in best possible conditions for students is as vital as any other facility for securing desirable learning outcomes. Hence it has to be granted that the physical environs wherein students study for hours at a stretch is correlated with their performance.

A good school infrastructure with ample learning spaces makes it easy for children with different learning styles and pace easier to study. While building a school, not only the physical design but the evolution of education system on so many levels must be heeded. Nowadays, learning is much easier, advanced and interesting than it used to be mostly because of the evolution of  technology. School Architects world over opine that the  school building must reflect a progressive inclination and receptive spatial design.

 

 

IMAGE AND LOOK

During the design phase of what would end up becoming the aesthetic attributes of the building, many things must be kept in mind. Certain things to take under consideration would be, what equivalent image do you want beholder to conjure after taking a look at your building? What purpose does the school serve and what are its educational goals? These considerations will give a perspective and orientation to the design of a school building that’s distinctive.

 

SHARED SPACE AND INFRASTRUCTURE

While advancing with the school building project, a relatively new trend that has emerged must also be taken in consideration – ‘shared space’. Many schools are building shared rooms for teachers or staffs to keep their belongings, stationeries, copies to evaluate etc. in one room. This will also preclude misplacement of stationeries or copies. This will also free useful space in the classrooms which can be then used for other productive classroom activities.

 

POINTS TO KEEP IN MIND WHILE DEVELOPING QUALITY SCHOOL INFRASTRUCTURE

  1. Comfort for students and staff – Appropriate spaces for students, teachers, administrators along with adequate intangible and tangible aspects including temperature, ventilation, lighting, water and other facilities like sanitary and drainage.
  2. Place for skill development, rehearsals and practice – Libraries, information and computer technology labs (ICT), Science labs and newly trending Math and English labs.
  3. Spaces for developing and nurturing talent – auditorium, ante-rooms, entertainment rooms, culture centred theatre, impromptu dramatics corner.

 

APPARENT IMPACTS OF PROGRESSIVE INFRASTRUCTURE ON QUALITY OF EDUCATION

Increased and consistent Attendance: Good infrastructure naturally appeals to the young minds. The dropout rate in the schools is discouragingly high in the rural schools. deficient and sub-par infrastructure has been implicated as one of the major reasons for absenteeism and low attendance count in an academic year.

Teacher Motivation:  survey shows, that the absence of teachers, on an average, in schools with poor infrastructure is ten per cent more than those in better urban-designed schools.

Members of the intelligentsia are becoming votaries of the improved infrastructure of schools and education technology and there are new dimensions which are getting revealed.

With CSR spending flowing into upgradation of school infrastructure, one hopes, the architectural techniques that bolster motivation and performance will enter the realm of pedagogy. We have dwelt on the relationship between architecture and pedagogy in our earlier article click here to read. The internationality of the work culture of the industries can herald a redefining trend if applied to school buildings too. Besides The involvement of students, teachers, tangible factors like building a lesson of a subject or fashioning a demonstration for comprehension of a concept can also be positively influenced by customized and researched architectural techniques which can be an asset for those who are opening a school with the purpose of making a difference in the education scenario of their region.

The outdoors or externalities of the infrastructure are not comparably heeded when it comes to optimizing the architecture of educational institutions. Researches have shown that the external infrastructure, even the façade, can have an undeniable effect on the environment of the school. For K-12 schools which run multiple streams and value interaction between the students and teachers must carefully select the master plan and get the interiors designed with attention to details.

The infrastructure of the modern schools, taken in its entirety, would constitute teaching aids, digital installations, education technology etc.  These are not subtleties any longer but have emerged as the necessities to be taken into account while opening a school with productive teaching environment.

The educational architecture is attentive about promoting individualized learning, creating settings for innovative teaching, incorporating new technology, being environmentally sustainable and supporting community involvement.

Designs of the new schools have a key element which owes their importance to the rise of technology usage in teaching practices in schools. Information and communications technologies (ICTs) which are highly valued for its role in the professional development of teachers in our country where teacher education is a critical issue. The designs which are coming forth recognize the distinct needs of pedagogical settings some of the deliberated ones include the degree of insularity i.e. acoustic and visual screening of the learning environments.

If one is opening a school where international programmes will be initiated, there are things that would make infrastructure compatible with the requirement of international curriculums which include directive, collaborative, applied, communicative modes of pedagogy.

Doing away with the constraints of the classroom which embodies an egg-crate model. Technology friendly architecture has changed the scenario for the better. The collaboration it promotes between the faculty and the students in colleges can be selectively adopted in the K-12 schools.

Teacher Training and Learning Outcomes


Posted on July 31, 2018 | by Vinod Kakumanu

There has been a lot of deliberation over the level of qualification and skills of teachers teaching across schools in India. Teacher training policies have been reviewed and commissions appointed to study and report on the scenario.

The school teachers in India, before they enter the rolls of their respective schools, get through a course at District Institute of Education and Training (DIET), in certain cases teachers come to DIET after joining the schools. DIET also trains in-service teachers if the need for supplementary training is assessed. These supplementary training modules are centred on capacity building themes like the introduction to ICT etc. All the trainee teachers and educators invariably have a teaching degree i.e.  B.Ed / M.Ed.

Comparison with other nations and their models of teacher training has brought to light opportunities as well as constraints present in our own schooling system. The portrayal of the Indian education scenario is not conceivable without pointing out the difference that exists in the quality of education between government and private schools. The difference oftentimes reaches to the point of contradiction.  Reports of dismal performance of government schools and dysfunctional primary schools abound and as if in a parallel dimension, private school teachers with equivalent qualifications are able to give their students education that becomes instrumental in turning them into leaders of the knowledge economy.

Adding to the bipolarity in the Indian education experience, we have seen the rise and functioning of International schools and international programmes in 21st century. These programmes have been informed by global standards of education and implemented by indigenous educators. The teachers trained for conducting the international curricula are themselves, alumni of the same or similar teacher training institutes as their counterparts teaching in government schools, nevertheless, there is such an obvious difference in performance, starkly apparent in learning outcomes that it becomes natural to suspect that something is amiss.

With all these facts in sight, it is not possible to deny that there is a systemic issue that plagues the competence-building of teachers.

There are quite a few valid points of view such as the one which points at the demotivation of teachers resulting from witnessing the environment of the schools, attitudes of their senior teachers, bureaucratic interference, parental negligence etc. While that is exactly why the NCERT has recommended field extensive training for teachers in their graduate courses.

DIET’s around the country have been running courses which are reinforcing the lessons in child psychology and handling of community attitude. The states have also exempted teachers from extra official duties, yet it did not seem to suffice in raising their performance. 40% of the students in India study in private schools, it must be noted that the ones who are studying in government schools are those who do not have a choice in the matter.

Interestingly, government teachers are better paid than their private school counterparts and have job security. Ironically, some see that as the reason for non-performance. When prospects of growth in career are not dependent on the performance there is no incentive to be better at their job. If that is the case that’s a catch 22. If we do not provide good remuneration and job security no one comes forward to be a teacher, at least none of the worthy ones and when they are given that they create the defunct scenario which we originally tried to avoid.

The potential of teachers is not directly assessed by tests, unlike their recruitment. The performance of their students reflects the level of competence of their teachers. The results of several reliable tests of the academic ability of children in government schools, like the ones conducted by ASER, have been shockingly sub-par. What disappoints the most is not just the outcome of training of teachers which is deficient in several areas but also the education system which tolerates persistent low performance. Private schools are using recruitment management solutions (like http://www.educatorone.com) to hire teachers and achieve consistent learning outcomes.

The solution lies in effective use of resources including the demotivated human resource which we have in the form of the cadre of teachers.  We have discussed how companies have and can come forward and make systemic changes that would go a long way, click here to read.

The solutions which are successfully tested through CSR initiatives include Public-Private Partnership (PPP) schools set up, which have been successful to deal with the resilient incompetence of teachers in the government schools.

There is also a common theory that it is the education at the secondary level and above that, which really brings out the difference of level of competence of private and public school teachers because in lower classes learning outcomes are not clearly defined besides some language and subject skills. To allay such misconceptions, it has forcefully been emphasized by various national and international organizations that not only the primary classes but the pre-primary classes as well need teachers with proven acumen and experience. One hopes that there will occur welcome changes in the standard of government-run preschool or aanganwadis with the intervention of corporates which is in the pipeline. We have covered the corporate’s ICDS aanganwadi initiative in the separate post click here to read.

Being a nation that has passed Right to Education Act makes it obligatory upon states to ensure that every child gets educated, it is rational to be expected of us to ensure that the education thus imparted is not wanting in quality, in fact, that is implied in the very text of the act.

The pedagogical approach of teachers of the notable private schools, subscribing to both national and international curricula, is something that must be analyzed. In addition to that, there are certain measures taken by organizations like Cambridge International and International Baccalaureate which are really a rich resource in themselves. Designing of IB Primary Years Programme (PYP) syllabus is incumbent upon the teachers as well. They are provided with a framework and support using which they have to design and implement the curriculum. (We have dealt with IB PYP in a separate article) Such interventions which broaden the role of the teachers and enhance the involvement has the power to redefine education and must be used.

The curriculum of the education degrees that enables graduates to be teachers in India does not reflect obvious lacunae, neither is there a shortage of supplementary in-service training programmes on pedagogy, teaching aids etc. It is not to say that there have never been instances of criticism of the curriculum. Agencies like NCERT has criticized the curriculum of the bachelors and masters programme in Education saying that it fails to take into account differences in the context in which teachers are required to function. There have also been questions about the ‘Field experience’ which forms the part of the curriculum. There have been calls from several quarters to restructure the field experience component for providing realistic exposure to trainee teachers.

All the interventions, directly or indirectly, talk of increased involvement of teachers in implementation of the educational programme of schools and curriculum. Regular scrutiny of the performance in terms of learning outcomes are indispensable to change the state of affairs.

Use of CSR budget to improve early childhood education in India


Posted on July 19, 2018 | by Vinod Kakumanu

Educationists opine that elementary education plays a vital role in charting the development of an individual. Through preschools, children get exposure to the world around and develop an affinity for learning. Social statistics demonstrate that children who had the opportunity to complete elementary education remain less likely to drop out from schools at any level.

Advocates of compulsory preschooling stress its role in creating the foundation for learning at an age when the rate of brain development is highest. There is no dearth of scientific data indicating that cerebral development in early years has a lifelong effect not only on mental development which manifests in learning, behavior, memory, emotions and mental health but also on physical growth.

Let’s look at how opinions have translated into policies for expansion of preschooling or elementary education.

Preschools do not find a place within the ambit of the RTE act which is effective for age group 6-14 only. Nevertheless, there is evidence attesting preschools’ contribution in meeting the RTE goals, hence in developing national assets.

Early schooling initiatives and policy interventions by the state, with regard to preschooling, are numbered. One of them, National Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) policy with the declared objective of providing a developmental continuum from prenatal to primary schooling age. As far policy changes are concerned, The narrative of preschooling has always gets lost in the grand narrative of universal education and ECCE is no exception.

There are other schemes preceding ECCE that can be said to be having a significant effect on the societal attitude towards early childhood education.  The one which is relatively better known is the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS). It has completed four decades since its inception and under it there are around 10.25 lacs “Aanganwadi centers” spread all over India. The number of children that fall in the ICDS gamut is huge enough to make it one of the world’s largest state intervention in the area of child development. However, the impact it is having on early education scenario does not come even remotely to its scale.  The fact remains that the quality of early education being provided through Aanganwadis of ICDS is sub-par for avoidable reasons.

Preschooling, its popularity, and potential have been demonstrated by urban India’s private daycare, preschools, and playschools. They are run by, or at least expected to run by, staff qualified in child care and early education. They have a structured curriculum and follow progressive educational philosophies guiding child education.

Unlike the private preschools, the ICDS centers or Aanganwadis are, at best, nutrition and daycare centers in popular perception. It is fair to say that they cannot be expected to be more than that given the staff with practically no qualification in childhood development. In addition to that, supplies that are indispensable in forming any preschool’s environment are simply non-existent in half of the Aanganwadis. So, what we have on the ground are so-called preschools for rural children with no books, pencils, drawing material, toys, puzzles to engage them in constructive activities.

We have a scenario where a huge state apparatus for early childhood education is failing to make the dent for some very specific reasons. Attempted solutions are faced by challenges rendering them irrelevant. For instance, the capabilities of staff of the Aanganwadis can be upgraded through training and direction, but the possibility of that becomes slim when we have a situation where more than 60% of the staff is simply denied guidance by the immediate superior or the supervisor.

Enter corporates with their trusts and think tanks. Tata Trusts and Copenhagen Consensus have recently issued a report outlining the strategy to change the state of elementary education. The significance and potential of corporate intervention in education have been well recognized and it is known that direct investment will undoubtedly change the picture of elementary education too.

There are some models to learn from, certain schemes of early education promotion. Conceptualization of some of the schemes is very unconventional, to say the least, yet they have some success to their credit in other developing countries. One of such schemes is to essentially hand out cash incentives to the parents who send their children to early childhood education centers.

In India, we have mid-day-meals that remotely resembles the aforementioned scheme. Now, this unprecedented incentivizing scheme is being contemplated upon by corporate houses backed by research and studies of some acclaimed think tanks. The ‘cash- incentive’ scheme has found its advocates who have already brought forth projections of costs and results for certain states.  For Andhra Pradesh, the estimated enrollment figures predict a 35% increase in the current Aanganwadis enrollment.

An overview of the case of Andhra Pradesh provides a perspective. This cash incentive model or its variant essentially proposes a grant of Rs. 6000 to a family who sends their 3 or 4-year-old to the Aanganwadi center regularly. The projection cost of such an incentive for the recently bifurcated state is 333 crores and it is expected to bring 1.4 lakh children to the early childhood education realm.

The empirical fact that strengthens the case of cash incentive measure is its positive correlation with enrollment in higher education. In other words, the use of an unconventional method for the promotion of preschooling is worth it. That is so because, preschooling has repercussions in terms of national human resource asset and progressive knowledge economy.

The economic wisdom of this scheme is, from an individual perspective, the increment in wages in which preschooling will have played a decisive part.

Macroeconomic translation of the scheme can result is in excess of 2 lakhs for a preschooled workman which translates into 3,146 crores for the state. Going by this calculation, we find that for every rupee spent on the child’s preschooling a return of Rs. 10 is ensured for the society. Corporates like Tata Trusts are taking initiative in bringing about these estimates through dedicated studies and collaboration with international think tanks.

For ICDS centers, corporate investment would bring in tangible improvements. It will include hiring of teachers, upgrading learning environment, setting up of a curriculum, training of the Anganwadi staff and availability of uniforms and books for the children.

The efficacy of the entire project of promotion of early education, despite its omission from the RTE act, is fundamentally based on the success of the private preschools. The developmental environment provided by good preschools exceeds the one provided by Aanganwadis by miles. When we say miles, we mean 1183 crore rupees. That means to bring the Aanganwadis, catering to all 3 – 6 years old children currently, to the level of a good preschool will cost that much.

Corporates are incentivizing families to promote preschool education. The intervention is welcome and preschools must be made exemplary learning hubs in the urban areas too. The curriculum and teacher training must not be compromised with. Use of modern educational philosophies has a big role to play in realizing the potential of preschools.

A glimpse into International Baccalaureate® Primary Years Programme (IB PYP)


Posted on July 19, 2018 | by Vinod Kakumanu

In the course of establishing, managing and improving schools throughout the country, School Serv has dealt with all aspects of learning to make sure institutions achieve optimum learning outcomes. Selection of appropriate curriculum and its implementation has always been our top priority. Our research wing also keeps a tab on developments and studies the features of curriculums to enable school promoters choose the best according to their context.

With the advent of IB  in India, school promoters who wanted to try different curriculums have found a way. In our role as curriculum implementation consultants, we have found out that before deciding on IB sometimes the groundwork of understanding and appreciating the course had not been done by school management, as a result, series of surprises were encountered. There are some very distinct features of IB curriculum which are important for school promoters to understand before opting IB as the curriculum of their school. In this article we have tried to provide a practical understanding of IB PYP curriculum as it remains the area wherefrom most of the queries arrive.

The primary year’s programme (PYP) of International Baccalaureate® is for children aged between 3 and 12. This implies that the inception of PYP happens in Kindergarten and it goes on till grade 5 making way for the Middle Year Programme (MYP).

The PYP programme is self-contained, which means that its significance will not get diminished even if it is not followed by the next level of IB i.e. MYP and DP. That actually applies to all these IB programmes and they are all independently pursued in many schools, yet, a continuum is recommended by IB and if a school could run successive programmes, it would make an ideal scenario.

It has to be said that IB PYP has a complex curriculum model which has several aspects constituting it. Once the staff adapts to it, IB PYP curriculum starts to show its rewards in the form of student engagement and parental satisfaction. Incorporated into ‘hexagonal model’, the IB PYP curriculum design and objectives are laid down for teachers to understand.

It is mentionable that like all other curriculums, the IB primary years that continue for 9 years of a student’s life will also cover subjects including Mathematics, Science, Language, Social Studies and Arts. The features that distinguish IB from other curriculums obtain from the fact that it is derived from a ‘framework’. The said framework is made up of overarching transdisciplinary themes including ‘who we are’, ‘where we are in place and time’, ‘how we express ourselves’, ‘how we organize ourselves’, ‘how the world works’ and ‘sharing the planet’. These themes underlay the content covered in the syllabus and make the pedagogical style international in perspective and transdisciplinary, meaning that while learning the concepts of a given subject or discipline the students also get introduced to concepts or themes which fall in the purview of other subjects.

Besides the themes, the curriculum is composed of three interlinked components including ‘written’, ‘taught’ and ‘assessed curriculum’. The components of the PYP curriculum confirm the commitment to increased involvement of the learner in the learning process. The significance of the components is as follows—

  1. The written curriculum—The written curriculum is, in effect the answer to ‘what do we want to know’? The written curriculum can be described as an organized set of learning outcomes. Studying “scope and sequence” document provided by IBO and assessment of other curriculums is done to derive certain benchmarks for designing the written curriculum. As a result, the curriculum will have topics gleaned from and compared against the major curriculums like CBSE, ICSE etc. However, discretion is exercised while charting the course or the way of teaching the content in the class and the sequence in which topics are introduced. Therefore it is quite possible to come across certain topics which are introduced in lower classes of IB are in higher classes of other boards. With respect to the syllabuses, certain omissions and commissions are made, but the primary objective to keep it coherent with the IB learner profile remains intact.

 

  1. The taught curriculum—’in what way will we learn best’? That’s the question that forms the cornerstone of the quest for the IB PYP taught curriculum. Innovation from the teachers, use of the teaching aids become essential in teaching the written curriculum in the best way. Helping individual children is also an objective of operationalizing the taught curriculum. The pedagogy determines the efficacy of the taught curriculum and its effectiveness for children who seldom have uniform learning styles.

 

  1. The assessed curriculum—the quest that defines the assessed curriculum is about knowing how to determine what we have learned? Conventionally, the assessment strategy is written exams complemented with vivas. In the case of IB PYP, assessment is multifarious and mimic higher education assessments. The methods of assessments are chosen by teachers or suggested to them and finally the validity, reliability of the assessment methods determining its suitability to assess the taught curriculum. The assessment methods also determine the direction of learning of the pupils, deviation from the instruction and in the process, the taught curriculum gets informed by the assessed curriculum.

The synergy between these three components brings out and effective IB PYP curriculum consummate in every respect. Furthermore, IB has a ‘learner profile’ in place which enlists the values and qualities that the student is expected to develop while he courses his way through the curriculum. IB expects the learner profile to be consolidated in the personality of the student, The profile signifies the attributes of a cosmopolitan or internationally-minded person. In fact, the learner profile is the core of the IB PYP curriculum.

IB curriculum is informed by the constructivist philosophy of education. When children are believed to be ‘constructors’ of knowledge their interaction in the classroom increases, they are given time to meditate about their learning and how they are learning, physical mobility and furniture configuration of the classroom does not remain conventional but becomes markedly different.

The curriculum throughout the primary years will drive the students towards the development and achievement of five essential elements including –

  1. Knowledge – The body of knowledge that the syllabus constitutes
  2. Concepts – form , function, causation ,change, connection ,perspective, responsibility and reflection
  3. Skills – disciplinary and transdisciplinary skills, thinking skills, social skills, research skills, communication skills, self-management skills.
  4. Attitudes –  the perspective to look at the issues of the world around
  5. Action – which means motivated action that the knowledge incites within the child to bring about the desired change.

The IB curriculum enforcement is aided by IBO through workshops and material for the trainee teachers. Our International School Consultants have successfully designed, implemented the IB PYP curriculum and trained the teachers to practice and sustain it.


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