The programme was implemented in 117 Government
schools and 9 corporation schools across Bangalore City. Content
has been developed in two languages: Kannada & Urdu. Though
initial assessments were carried out in November 2004, due
to several reasons, the programme was completed in March 2005.
Design teaching learning material (TLM)
Capacity Building for teachers, CRP's, BRP's
Share 50% of programme cost with the SSA
Distribute TLM or a regular basis
Ensure smooth implementation - play trouble-shooter
Akshara's primary role has been capacity
building & coordinating the distribution of teaching material.
To begin with, Akshara conducted baseline training for government
schoolteachers in South2 & North 2 Education Blocks on the
principle of the accelerated reading technique, the different
reading levels, criteria for categorization, & the relevant
documentation to be maintained.
ARP Trainer Ravi Kumar makes a child
read at the demonstration class-Government School Teacher
An Interesting Discrepancy!
However, despite the wide range of reactions from the
teaching fraternity, as the discussion on the methodology
progressed, an interesting discrepancy was observed. On realizing
the potential of the ARP, some teachers openly expressed errors
in reporting the baseline data. For the fear of being admonished
or just plain complacency, teachers admitted to have underestimated
the number of children needy of the programme (in 0, L, W
reading levels). They threw up an astronomic number- they
claimed nearly 60% of children in nearly every school were
in the programme category.
This created a huge logistic pandemonium for one simple reason_
the programme detailed 20 children to be tutored by one teacher.
In many schools, if all the needy children were to be considered,
the child: teacher ratio was exceeding 40:1. There were few
teachers but a large number of children.
Hence a logistic decision was taken:
a maximum of 50% of the total number of teachers in each school
were to be considered for implementing the programme. The
programme was divided in two phases such that all needy children
would be enrolled. Once the baseline data was established,
the Akshara training team conducted a day’s training
on the methodology of the accelerated reading technique- 3
batches of Kannada teachers and 2 batches of Urdu teachers
were trained in the accelerated reading technique.
The training was done in an informal
setting. Experiences & learning from the pilot programmes
was shared with the teachers. Teachers from pilot schools
shared their personal experiences and observations with their
peers. A detailed discussion on the methodology followed.
The response was a mixed bag- while some
teachers were excited about the methodology; others expressed
their unwillingness to be involved with the programme. They
cited historic reasons: they were over-burdened, loaded with
extra duties (like census, survey’s, other training,
etc.). They disagreed with the basic analogy that the system
required some correction, claimed their teaching was supreme,
refuted anomalies, - they were essentially a hostile lot.
Simultaneously, a training session for
the CRP’s & BRP’s was held to orient them
towards the goal of the programme, monitoring issues, their
role & possible problem areas.
A blueprint for implementation approved by the Block Education
Office was established.
Story cards were to be distributed each time by Akshara volunteers
to maintain continuous contact with the teachers/schools.
Assessments were to be carried out by the teachers every 15
days, & Akshara volunteers were responsible to collate
data from all the schools.
Detail primary school teachers to implement
Share 50% of the programme cost with
Monitor implementation through CRP's
Engage as a partner to initiate change
in the existing government school system
Having partnered with a private Foundation,
the government has demonstrated a strong commitment to initiate
change within in its system. Acknowledging the need for such
a programme spoke volumes about the proactive stance of the
Government of Karnataka. BEO's have been helpful. In S2, fortnightly
meetings in the BEO's presence (with CRP's, BRP's & Akshara
volunteers) were held to monitor the progress of ARP. This
enabled timely problem solving.
Checks & Balances
Selection of Schools: A database of schools in the block,
with teacher & student strength was established. Based
on the number of children who qualified for the programme,
considering that each center would have 20 children (with
mixed reading abilities); schools were asked to nominate >50%
of their teacher strength to attend ARP training assuming
that each teacher would handle 20 children (1 center). This
ensured that only interested teachers enrolled for the training.
This also counter-checked the schools’ commitment to
partake in the programme. 99% of teachers trained in the accelerated
reading technique by Akshara have successfully implemented
the programme in their respective schools.
Story Card Distribution: A maximum of
4 cards were distributed at one time. Since Akshara volunteers
were in no position to monitor the programme directly; periodic
visits to the schools in the garb of story-card distribution
helped cross-check whether the programme was being implemented
Assessments: Once the baseline was established,
children were assessed after the 15th, 30th, 38th, and 45th
story card; assessments were designed to monitor progress
of the child. The scope enabled documentation from 0 to para
level; 0 level child could (may/may not) progress to P level
within the 45-story card span. It was widely observed that
children learnt faster after the completion of 30th story
card. Hence the 38th story-card assessment was introduced.
In addition, dipstick surveys by Akshara
volunteers were conducted. Schools were randomly selected
& Akshara volunteers assessed children. This validated
the credibility of compiled data (furnished by teachers).
Secretary, Primary and Secondary Education,
Govt. of Karnataka, visiting the ARP Class.
Hurdles/ Problem Areas
Primary Teachers Association
opposed the programme: they argued that teachers
were already hassled with extraneous duties and this programme
would be an additional additional burden. Their opposition
was difficult to overcome in the initial phase. Teachers chose
to distance themselves from the programme; getting them enrolled
was a huge challenge.
Though conceptually the programme was to be monitored by CRP’s
& BRP’s, ensuring that classes were being conducted
in the stipulated time (between 2 – 3:30pm) proved difficult.
Akshara volunteers were in no position to monitor classes
directly as teachers were averse to any outsiders’ presence
(other than education department officials) during class hours.
Children not part of the programme
had to be attended to during ARP classes –
those not enrolled in the ARP were found loitering around
without guidance and had to be
engaged in constructive activities.
Space constraint: Accommodating
non-programme children in separate classrooms was difficult;
schools were small and number of classrooms not adequate.
Commissioner for Public Instructions,
Govt. of Karnataka makes a child read at the ARP Class.
Untrained teachers implement
ARP: In some schools, the ARP trained teachers were
not implementing the programme. Instead an unconnected/untrained
teacher was asked to conduct ARP classes; their understanding
about ARP was poor. Hence the programme suffered.
One-off Training: there
was no scope for Akshara trainers to periodically interact
with the trained teachers to solve their queries and doubts.
School Administration apprehensive:
they were disinterested in a new programme initiated by an
external agency. They were unwilling to accept an external
agency conceptualizing a programme for their government school
Teachers uneasy: they
were not comfortable with the school zone coordinator’s
(Akshara volunteer) presence inside the ARP class.
Enrolling CRP’s & BRP’s
difficult: Getting them to emphasize on the ARP during
their school visits, to create a systemic pressure on the
teachers, was not possible.
Akshara Staff – lack of
focus: As Akshara volunteers were involved in other
programmes of the organization; they were unable to spend
focused time on the ARP. There were noticeable shortcomings
on their part – data was not compiled on time, visits
to schools were irregular.
Story cards – children
unwilling to return: Children did not want to return
the cards. They considered the story cards as their personal
treasure and did not want to part with them.
Assessment formats not returned
on time: a slight delay from the teachers’
end to conduct assessments and hand in the formats was noticed.
Common reasons cited include – lack of time to conduct
assessments. This made data compilation difficult.
Implementation plan vital:
Inputs from the Education Department about the number of children,
teachers and schools to be involved is essential to plan successful
Formulate dipstick assessment
schedule: Besides the worked-out assessment schedule
and the one-time dipstick survey conducted in this phase,
there is a need to formulate a separate schedule for routine
dipstick assessments by Akshara volunteers. This would help
furnish accurate data and validate established documentation.
Create separate teams for ARP:
Both within Akshara and the existing government structure,
it would be prudent to have separate teams overlooking implementation
of the ARP. These costs should be built into programme budgets
in order to assist successful implementation. At present CRP's,
BRP's, Akshara volunteers alike were multi-tasking.
Monitoring had to be done by officials of the Education Department
(CRP, BRP) only - teachers were hostile to any outsider presence.
In this phase, it was clear that monitoring was a problem
area. To address this, a proactive mechanism has to be worked
out such that Akshara volunteers & Education Department personnel
exchange feedback/observations at periodic intervals to address
problems that arise and take corrective action.
Engaging the community as an active stakeholder in the learning
process would help build in adequate pressure on school authorities
to ensure successful implementations.
Design new TLM1 : Story
cards have been widely appreciated: the design, colour, quality
and content have contributed equally to attract teachers and
children. However, it has been noticed that TLM has not been
completely successful in bringing the 0 level children to
the P level. This issue has to be addressed. TLM for 0 level
children has to be increased; each child could be given a
laminated Ottakshara chart.
Story-card cost proving high:
In the current form, story-cards were costing nearly Rs.150/child.
This has to be reduced to increase outreach. However, the
issue is complex: the colorful cards have been the key to
attract children. Recycling the cards could be an option although
children are upset at the thought of returning the cards.
Methodology well defined: It
has been found that the methodology is clear & well defined;
in some cases even untrained teachers have been able to implement
ARP and produce desired results.
Child's ability to grasp:
There has been some debate on whether to introduce a new story
card every day or once in two days. However, phase 1 has proved
that children have reacted very positively to a new card each
day. This must not be changed. Their ability to comprehend
is far beyond our imagination.
Rework training schedule:
There is a need to engage in periodic training. Teachers must
have forums to interact with Akshara resource people and clarify
doubts. This will produce better results. As the programme
gets up-scaled, the ARP trained teachers could be used as
resource personnel to propagate their learning/experiences
from the ARP. Exposure visits to ARP classes could be included
as part of training.
Involve DIET2 & DSERT3 :
Slot in their involvement as part of monitoring and evaluation.
Their involvement will also gratify the initiation of the
Urdu Schools - Kannada cards:
Convinced about the effectiveness of the methodology, Urdu
schools have expressed a need to introduce Kannada cards to
improve reading ability of their children in Kannada.
Deputy Director for Public Instructions - South,
Dept. of Education, Govt. of Karnataka visiting the ARP Class.