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Improving Foundation Learning (literacy and numeracy) of Children in Grade I-V in Government Schools in Marginalised Communities in Odisha in India

Campaign by Youth for Social Development (YSD)

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Story

Ganjam is one of the largest districts of Odisha in terms of geography (8206 sq. km.) and demography (35, 29,031). 78.24% of its population lives in rural areas. The Scheduled Caste population is 19.5% (688235) out of which 82.4% live in rural areas. Nearly 56% of children have not been able to return to school after the Pandemic-induced lockdowns. Girls’ enrolment stays abysmally low at 48.4% at the Primary level. The rampant drop-outs of children from the resource-poor slums and villages are pushing children into child labour. Those who manage to stay in school somehow are not learning as expected of children in their age group.

Along with the debate about the quality of education being provided in government schools, there were several concerns including teacher-student ratio, quality of teachers, on-the-job teacher training avenues, and so on. Though the Act had the provision for school education to be free and compulsory, in reality, a substantial percentage of students do not receive education for free. Non-provision of other essential items, such as textbooks, uniforms, and transport, adds to the financial burden on households.

The situation has turned grimmer since the Pandemic and the following lockdowns. The Indian government imposed one of the longest school closures globally as it went through multiple waves of the COVID-19 pandemic. This had a disproportionate impact on children from resource-poor families.

To make matters worse, as it were, in October 2020, the state government of Odisha shut down 433 schools, 425 Primary and 8 Upper Primary schools, in Ganjam district alone. This was apparently due to ‘poor enrolment’. In several instances, to cut costs, the government merged Upper Primary schools with the High schools in the area. This has severely impacted the education of children in the district. The distance between the habitation and a High school is invariably much more than the distance between a hamlet and its nearest Primary school. Parents of young children in Primary schools are apprehensive of letting their young ones walk to schools now located far away. The number of school dropouts has increased in almost every village.

We propose to run educational Community Learning and Support Centers. The central purpose is to keep Primary school children academically alive and engaged in learning. Otherwise, there are several compelling reasons to fear that many children will drop out and will never be able to get back to school and education. Given the closure of schools and the distance to High Schools with whom some of the Primary Schools have been merged, children from the most marginalized background have no access to education. 

  1. The Learning and Support Centers (LSC) will be for Primary school students and will be run by trained staff
  2. We shall work with the government schools in the intervention area to positively impact the teaching & learning methodologies
  3. Located in the communities – rural/tribal and urban slums – the Centers will identify dropped-out children and bring them back to learning; work towards improving education-seeking behaviour, especially for girl children
  4. We also propose to prepare a White Paper on closed schools and their impact on children, especially from marginalized communities and share the findings for a wider discussion, learning and advocacy.
  5. SDG 4, targets covered by this intervention: Target 1. Universal primary (and secondary) education Target 2. Early childhood development and universal pre-primary education Target 5. Gender equality and inclusion

Expected Results and Impact

  1. Children in the age group of 6-11 have improved foundation learning and achieved FLN skills by grade V
  2. Quality and diversified student and teacher learning materials are available; a joyful learning environment exists for the deprived children in the intervention area
  3. Teachers of 100 government schools engaged with Primary classes are trained with customized material developed by the YSD team
  4. Government schools have improved the teaching and learning methodologies and practices
  5. The dropped-out children and those who have suffered learning loss are brought to their age-appropriate level of learning
Organisers
Youth for Social Development (YSD)

Youth for Social Development (YSD)

Beneficiary Charity

Bibhu Prasad Sahu

Bibhu Prasad Sahu

Organiser

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