Shiksha Saarthi, the joint initiative between Coastal Gujarat Power Limited (CGPL), a wholly owned subsidiary of Tata Power Company, and Pratham Education Foundation, a front-runner in the field of education, has done it again. Even as policy pundits struggle to find ways to deliver what the government is already committed to—provide quality elementary education to every Indian citizen— Shiksha Saarthi has come up with a full-fledged strategy, albeit at its own scale, and is putting it into action. Its area of operations is spread across in 83 schools of 50 villages, enveloping the catchment villages that lay within.
Here is a brief account of the recent developments on the education front. First the good news. In India the number of children going to school is on the rise. As per official data, not only has the volume of entrants at the primary level recorded a healthy growth rate, more significantly, once enrolled, the children have continued to attend school. The usual flow of dropouts, lethal enough to bleed even a robust system to death, has begun to ebb, albeit slightly. This is a rare phenomenon in our education scenario.
Heartening though the news is, another set of data, also available in the public domain, has cast a dark shadow. Studies and surveys conducted by premier institutions declare that a majority of Indian children are well below their grade level. If one has to lay out the challenges in the broad context of teaching and learning in India, it would fall into the following categories:
- Develop basic foundations of learning in early grades (Grades 1 and 2)
- Accelerate and sustain basic learning for children already in Grades 3, 4 and 5 who are as yet not even at Grade 2 level
- Build capabilities of children who are in Grades 3, 4 and 5, and are beyond the Grade 2 level, but yet to reach the grade appropriate level.
So the message comes across loud and clear. The teaching technique would have to value added so that it can bring the quality enhancement and learning achievements among the children.
Saarthi surges forth
The Shiksha Saarthi game plan has several components, central one being a new approach that the group has adopted. Methodology of Combined Activities for Maximised Learning (CAMaL – meaning maximum or wonder). It has evolved out of Team Pratham’s experiences in working with children from disadvantaged communities. There are two parts of CAMaL. First is about managing classroom work and the second is planning activities so that children not only enjoy what they do but also absorb certain lessons from these activities. And get ready to move to the next level of learning.