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Programmes Primary Education for unreached

PRIMARY EDUCATION FOR UNREACHED AND HARD-TO-REACH CHILDREN AND ADOLESCENTS

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Education, particularly primary education, impacts on social development and economic growth.  It is a fundamental right and a basic requirement for sustaining democracy. Millions of children in India are excluded from their right to have full and complete primary education.  Living in chronic poverty, they are victims of many human right violations and accumulating disadvantages. These children and adolescents, who today have no access to school, will swell the ranks of tomorrow’s illiterates.

 

More girls than boys are left out of primary education every year. Even if girls are enrolled, they are the first to leave, when needed at home to do domestic chores, and care for siblings or ailing parents. Also, when resources are scarce, girls are more likely to be deprived of basic necessities, such as food and medicine, and primary education. And very often, early marriage and teenage pregnancy force girls to abandon their schools.

 

The denial of primary education to girls inflicts multiple and magnifying damages on the society and economy. The primary education provides girls and women with a greater understanding of basic health, nutrition and family planning as well as of their own potentials. Educated women may later, have fewer children and receive better parental care. Children of mothers, who have been to school; are healthier, better nourished and more likely to attend, and succeed in school than children of mothers, who have never gone to school.

 

Indian Institute for Social Development (IISD) has been attempting to provide opportunities to the excluded groups of children and adolescents to have access to primary education, through non-formal learning approaches in order to improve their lives.

 

The broad objective is to substantially increase the enrolment, retention and achievement levels by providing innovative, enjoyable and stimulating educational experience for the learners.

 

The Institute has been adapting EFA Dakar Framework for Action and Millennium Development Goals to the local needs, aspirations and the socio-cultural realities of the learners.

 

Key Features

The non-formal education, provided by IISD has synthesised the essential and interrelated elements for sustainable human development. These elements include;

  • Availability (necessary logistics support, teaching materials, trained teachers, safe drinking water and sanitation facilities);
  • Accessibility
  • Non-discrimination (making non-formal education accessible to all the needy children and adolescents, particularly to the most disadvantaged and vulnerable groups);
  • Physical Accessibility (establishing community-based neighbourhood  non-formal learning centres within safe physical reach in convenient locations, particularly keeping in view the needs of the girls);
  • Acceptability (making the curricula and teaching method acceptable, relevant, culturally appropriate and of good quality to the learners); and
  • Adaptability (making primary education flexible so that it can respond to the needs of the students within their diverse social and cultural settings).

 

Strategy

The Organization has been adopting a multi-pronged and holistic strategy to optimise the access to primary education as well as to improve its performance.  The action steps taken by the Organization include;

 

Appropriate and Relevant Curriculum

The primary education curriculum is normally centrally developed. It has become increasingly evident that the curriculum must respond to the needs of the learners, and has to be adapted accordingly. If the curriculum is to be appropriately adapted, then the users will need curriculum internalization skills. This calls for a thorough understanding of a learning environment and its needs as well as the requirements of the education system. The curriculum, whilst being meaningful to their environment, must also open up wider horizons for the learners.

 

The Organization has adopted new approaches to pedagogical learning and innovative modalities to encourage teachers/instructors to shift from using the traditional lecture approach to a more interactive style of teaching. Pedagogical techniques have been revised to include participatory and gender-sensitive teaching and learning methods and strategies that foster critical thinking and problem-solving skills. These techniques instil in pupils willingness and motivation to continue learning beyond the instruction. The emphasis is on design and development of relevant teaching and learning materials for quality primary education that develop vital literary skills and make instruction joyful to meet the specific needs of the targeted children.

 

The innovative features of the curriculum include;

  • Defining meaningful aims and contents for education that match the real learning needs of children in their divergent ability levels as well as in various situations and locations;
  • Integrating the learning process with the essential/distinct socio-economic patterns of the communities, and suitably accommodating local traditions and cognitive styles;
  • Essentially incorporating the non-academic dimensions of education (values, attitudes, psychological support, counselling), thus ensuring an environment in which children can realize their full potentials;
  • Ensuring efficient delivery system by appropriately adapting the curriculum and methods of teaching, which will make the instruction completely enjoyable and interesting for the children; and
  • Designing and implementing systematic, continuous, and outcome-oriented monitoring methods of performance through a participatory system of assessment and feedback on learning, with full involvement of learners, parents, experts and community representatives.

 

Enabling Learning Environment

The Organization has been putting thrust on an appropriate level of inputs; personnel, materials and facilities that must accompany the learning process. The Organization is providing conducive learning environment through the child friendly, non-formal education centres. It encourages the use of the environment as a source of the teaching and learning aids.  The main features of learning environment include;

  • Sufficient, sustainable and quality resources, human (teaching & support personnel), material (books & small libraries), logistics(physical infrastructure), and nutrition(nutritional dietary support to the learners);
  • Strengthening the use of local resources by promoting educational material development based on local traditions and making use of the local environment, including the local culture;
  • Promoting attitudes in the environment that place value on participatory and joyful learning, thereby creating a 'learning culture'; and
  • Using delivery methods that encourage independent learning and stimulate children's creative abilities.

 

Support System

Psycho-social dimensions of education (values, attitudes, social and emotional problems, and psychological responses of the learners, parents, teachers and communities) have important repercussions on performance in primary education. Counselling helps in motivating the uninterested parents to enrol their children in primary education.

 

The parental co-operation and support as well as community sensitization enhance learning and the overall performance of the children.  Primary education must respond to the different learning needs of adolescents and children as well as promote balanced and holistic development of their personalities.  The factors in ensuring support include;

  • Guidance and counselling for the children and adolescents, and more particularly for their parents on the needs and relevance of primary education;
  • Skill imparting programmes;
  • Special attention on vulnerable and marginalized groups;
  • Free in-service teacher training, particularly on multi-grade and double-shift methods; and
  • Partnership for promotion of primary education by enlisting the full support of parents and community members in ensuring universal enrolment and increasing the retention as well as involving them in monitoring the progress of primary education.

 

Participatory Management

IISD has been adopting a participatory community-based approach in the management of the primary education.

 

The main features of the governance in IISD’s primary education include;

  • Designing and implementing an integrated plan and monitoring mechanisms at systemic level to support learning and ensure step by step the attainment of goals set for enrolment, retention and achievement in primary education;
  • Strengthening commitment to learning and making it more relevant/contextual by involving local levels in the management of non-formal educational centres; and
  • Widening learning opportunities and the support network by creating partnerships between the Organization, teachers, parents and community members, and representatives of local self-governments (civic bodies and Panchayati Raj Institutions).

 

Innovative Features

IISD has been emphasizing on the desirability of a participatory, interactive, child-centred, activity-oriented pedagogy; which is characterized by cooperative learning and inquiry as well as fosters conceptual understanding, critical thinking and problem-solving skills. The Organization has been underscoring the irrelevance of the outmoded and undesirable practice (dominant norm) of a rigid, chalk-and-talk, teacher-centred/dominated instructions, and lecture-driven pedagogy or rote learning. Such pedagogy places students in a passive role, limiting their activity to memorizing facts and reciting them to the teacher or reproducing the same in the classroom assessment practices/examinations.

 

IISD has been adopting open-ended and discovery-based pedagogies, which plays holistic, cognitive, creative and emotional development of the learners, stressing a child-centred/child-friendly approach to teaching and learning. The innovative characteristics of the learning and teaching process, adopted by IISD, include;

  • Child-centred, rather than teacher-driven pedagogy;
  • Active, rather than passive learning;
  • Multi-grade classrooms to attend to the learners of different achievement levels;
  • Recruitment of fully trained teachers, mainly from the community or neighbouring areas;
  • Peer interactions among learners;
  • Carefully developed self-guided/teacher and student-constructed learning materials;
  • Emphasis on knowledge and skills necessary for productive lives and livelihoods;
  • Integration/promotion of social and cultural values, human rights, equity and equality, good citizenship, democracy and world peace in the teaching-learning process;
  • Active student involvement in learning centres’/schools’ management;
  • Use of radio, television and computers;
  • Ongoing and regular in-service training of the teachers;
  • Strong links between the learning centres/schools and the community;
  • Nutritional and health support to the learners; and
  • Concurrent and continuous monitoring, evaluation and feedback systems

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