Howrah Rural Teachers Forum – School Improvement Program
Improving the level of education and its impact on the children
School Improvement Program Supported by The Barrington Education Initiative and Implemented by the Institute of Education, Rural Studies & Development of the Howrah Rural Teachers Forum
This program was established in 2004 through the offices of Prof. Marmar Mukhopadhyay, an expert in the field of education in India and well known in educational circles world wide. He has held a number of influential academic positions and has been involved at the highest levels of government in the planning and implementation of educational policy. At the time the project was established he was head of NIEPA – the National Institute of Educational Planning and Administration.
The focus of this innovative school improvement program project was on the three essential components in the provision of basic quality education for children in India: enrolment, retention and performance. Both retention and performance are indicators of quality of schooling, and research pointed to a massive drop out rate and poor performance in the primary grades.
The aim therefore was to reduce the drop out rate and improve the quality of teaching by intervention and the introduction of sport, games and music to attract and retain students. The contention was that if school became an interesting place most children will stay on and will learn.
The SIP (School Improvement Program) was planned to improve the level of education and its impact on the children in a number of regions, by focusing on empowering and enriching headmasters and teachers and developing their schools.
The goals were defined as combating the high drop out rate, improving the performance and academic achievement of the children, initiation of more interesting teaching methods and providing the means to introduce new equipment and books, improving teacher participation in the development of and design of the SIP program, and enhancement of their self esteem.
The SIP project was introduced in four different regions of the country -Pune Varanasi, Chennai and Udang-, each covering a cluster of some 30 primary schools and each supervised by a local Project Manager.
The Howrah Rural Teachers Forum played a crucial role in the process of empowering, motivating and capacity building of the head teachers and the teachers in general. They were also uniquely situated to involve community leaders and reach out to the parents.
Capacity building seminars were held for headmasters and later also for teachers, funds were allocated for the introduction of sports, music and art classes and new equipment was purchased for the schools. An added incentive was provided by special awards granted to the Best SIP schools and the Best SIP Teachers.
Teachers were encouraged to become involved in the program and to innovate with minimum external assistance. Through a series of workshops the self esteem of the teachers was improved and there was a marked improvement in teacher participation in planning and implementing the SIP.
Practical results of the SIP project show that the drop out rate in the SIP schools has dropped dramatically and the project’s intervention has led to measurably improved academic achievements. The teachers involved and especially the head masters have all expressed their gratitude and keen desire for the project to continue. Other schools in the area have requested to be included in the SIP program and it appears that there has been interest from the local educational authorities to adopt some of the methods employed. There is talk of aligning SIP to the national school improvement program and of expanding the project to 100 schools each in Udang and Pune.
BEI is proud to have been supporting the SIP for more than a decade and is proud to be part of the projects phenomenal success.