GUWAHATI, Feb 22 - In view of the poor learning levels of children across a large number of rural schools in Assam, Pratham Education Foundation that prepares the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER), has come up with innovative teaching methodologies to reverse the disturbing trend.
In the last few months, Pratham has been experimenting with a variety of activities and processes to sustain children�s interest in learning and in building their capabilities to learn on their own. Significantly, the interventions have showed promising results both on engagement of stakeholders, and improvement and sustenance of learning levels of children.
�Our recent work has focused on forming children�s groups in communities and facilitating the process of children working on their own. An additional element that is also being tried out is that of parents (especially mothers) and community members engaging with children and supporting their activities in the community,� Abhijit Chakraborty, State coordinator, Pratham, told The Assam Tribune.
He added that other pilots were also in the field where digital content (through tablets and other devices) was being combined with other materials and interactions for children in groups. �Broadly speaking, we are referring to all of these activities to sustain learning as �Library�,� he said.
Over the past three years, Pratham�s structured and comparable measurement across its direct Learning Camp interventions has allowed it to deeply analyse programme impact and effectiveness.
�Analysis of our past performance data, both internally and externally collected, has shown that it is critical to sustain the learning gains through a set of ongoing follow-on activities. The primary objective of Library activities is to ensure that children�s learning gains are sustained. It enables children to learn on their own. Children�s groups, facilitating group tasks, developing materials that children can use by themselves and conduct learning fairs are all strategies to help children learn on their own,� Chakraborty said.
In October 2015, Pratham launched the �Lakhon Mein Ek� (LmE) campaign, an ambitious undertaking to enable local people to find out if children in their communities could read or do basic arithmetic. Once the current status became clear, the idea was to encourage local villagers and community volunteers to start activities in the village that could support learning activities for their children.
�One of the first activities that followed the LmE campaign was the �Reading Week� intervention reaching more than 12,000 villages across 17 states in the country. In every participating village, during the Reading Week, groups of children were formed in different neighbourhoods. Through the Reading Week experience, we were able to observe that by creating children�s groups and providing simple material like worksheets and reading cards, children were able to learn by themselves and in groups. With some basic encouragement from an adult family member or neighbour, the activities could be carried out smoothly,� Chakraborty said.
The current new vision of community-based rural libraries is influenced by the experiences of LmE and Reading Week. It intends to make this library activity one of the key components of its direct Read India work.
An analysis of Pratham�s Reading Week intervention done through reading and arithmetic data of over 70,000 children collected across States has shown significant improvement in children�s levels through the course of the intervention.
�While at the baseline it was observed that just over 60 per cent of all children part of the tested groups were able to read, this proportion stood at over 80 per cent at the time of the end-line. Similar improvement was seen in number recognition abilities of children. These results are an encouraging confirmation of the success of group-based learning in communities and the ability of children to help each other move forward with learning over a duration of time,� Chakraborty said.