It is no longer a local problem plaguing a particular region of India. The issue has assumed national proportions now, and is crippling the vast machinery of formal education, slowly but surely. Unless immediate steps are taken to rein in the mounting dropout rates among the middle and primary school students, India’s future workforce would run the risk of remaining half literate, warn experts. As governments, at the Centre and in the states, struggle to cope with this complicated, multilayered malady, an education initiative, spearheaded in the coastlands of Kutch in Gujarat, has evolved its own success formula. To ensure that the children remain in school, invite the mothers in too, and get them actively involved in teaching their own wards.
This is the Shiksha Saarthi mantra.
Shiksha Saarthi is the flagship program of an alliance between Coastal Gujarat Private Limited (CGPL), the wholly owned subsidiary of Tata Power Company, and Pratham Education Foundation, a front-runner in this domain.
And together they have drawn up a plan that is potent enough to transform the profile of school education in the region lying in and around the CGPL site Located in the Kutch district,. This program is being implemented in 83 schools of 50 villages
Shiksha Saarthi begins a new phase every year with a colourful Pravesh Utsav, with the local government pitching in to persuade as many households as possible to send their children to school. Specially designed educational kits, carrying colourful messages on environment, focusing on energy conservation, are distributed among the new entrants. Then through the year science fairs, learning camps, fun events, educational exposure visits and implementation of Government sponsored programmes—every avenue is explored to keep students, teachers as well as the parents engaged and interested in the education system. Volunteers, hailing from CGPL staff base, are trained by Pratham to conduct special classes with parents.
But the most popular item till date is the Mother Involvement Programme. The focus is on the mother, who is trained by Pratham volunteers to help her own child to study. Usually, the first step of the activity is to test the children in the presence of their mothers. This is an ice breaker of sorts. It helps the mother and the volunteer to gauge the learning levels of the child. At the end of the programme the volunteers distribute placards, charts and other teaching learning materials (TLM) among the mothers, along with helpful tips on how to take daily lessons.