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9 Programmes That Are Changing How Students Learn In Delhi’s Government Schools

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Ideally, education is provided at different stages to the children; these categorisation are based on the age of the child, and the stages are – pre-primary, primary, middle, secondary, senior-secondary and University Level. But, the government of Delhi has entirely revamped this structure. Composite schools, known as Sarvodaya Vidyalayas, started by AAP conduct classes from standards I to XII. The government of Delhi, in this initiative has converted 325 schools into Sarvodaya Vidyalayas. Apart from this, at the university level, the Govt. of Delhi is running 28 Degree Colleges which are funded by the UGC and Delhi Government.

The recent Delhi government school makeover is to the credit of Atishi Marlena. She studied at St. Stephen’s College, Delhi and Oxford Univeristy in the UK, and was also a Rhodes scholar and later on went to join the Aam Aadmi Party in the capacity of an advisor.

When we think of government schools, the images that pop in our mind are those of dingy classrooms, no benches, brick walls, dirty toilets, shabby kids and the like. The Delhi government has persevered to change this image, one plan at a time, by the introduction of over 26 programmes aimed at changing the entire structure of government school education in India.

In a short span of three years, the Delhi Government plans have changed the entire picture of education. Let us take a look, one plan at a time.

1) Chunauti 2018: Supporting The Last Child In Class To Learn

Chunauti is based on improving the foundation of students. Despite studying for many years, many students cannot even read a simple passage or solve a math problem. Many students even find it difficult to clear the 9th and 10th grade. Hence, Chunauti was launched in June 2016, to bridge the learning gaps from grades 6th to 8th, thereby also ensuring zero dropouts in Grade 9.

This programme has led to a better result for classes 6, 7 and 8 which is improved in numerical terms from 60%, 61%, and 65% to 66%, 69% and 73% respectively.

2) Reading Campaign & Pragati: Enabling All Children To Read

This campaign focuses on children from classes 6th to 8th. A basic learning material/reading assessment tool for the campaign was developed by the NGO Pratham consisting of short stories, paragraphs and word cards, and administered on one on one basis by the teachers. It has 6 levels – beginner, letter, word, paragraph (Std 1 level competency), Story (Std 2 level competency) and Advance Story (having an excerpt of about 100 words from the textbook of Std 6). The highest level attained by the child is recorded as her/his reading level. Hence a child who is at paragraph level means that he can read letters, words and paragraphs but not story or advance story.

At the baseline it was found that, only 25% of students could read in Std.6. After the programme it was found that 46% could read advance stories. And, while earlier only 14% could read a simple text of Std 1 level, whereas now, that has increased to 32.

3) Kala Utsav

An initiative of the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) under RMSA, to promote arts in education by nurturing and showcasing the artistic talent of school students at the secondary stage in the country through music, theatre, dance, visual arts and crafts at the district, state and National level. It helps the students in identifying and understanding the diverse tangible and intangible cultural expressions. NCT of Delhi was paired with Sikkim for the year 2016-17; it involved participation of 4235 students from across 750 schools and Delhi won prizes in music at national level.

4) Incubation Centres For Startups: Creating A Culture Of Entrepreneurship Among The Youth

The government has established 11 incubation Centres giving them a grant of Rs. 1.5 crore as seed money for each. College/university students with creative minds are given an opportunity to explore their ideas through a platform and financial assistance. It would be accessible to the current students, alumni, faculty/staff and experienced alumni would forward to share their experiences and help the budding incubates. Even after the passing out of college, the students are connected to their teachers/professors. The government intends to have 1000 incubatees by 2020 in its educational institutes.

5) Online Capacity Building Programme For Teachers

Starting in December 2016, this programme was launched in order to connect and equip the teachers by SCERT, Delhi. This Online Capacity Building Programme (OCBP) was incorporated to connect and equip the teachers posted at different locations. The content is provided through an app platform and can be accessed on smartphones through a mobile application called ChalkLit and from the web. It complements the challenges of face to face training which are pulling out teachers for training from their school hours, tracking analytics of training, among others. The trainings on content are mapped as per the annual academic calendar of schools.

6) Financial Assistance

Under the scheme, the Delhi Higher Education Aid Trust through Directorate of Higher Education (DHE), Govt. of NCT of Delhi will fully or partially reimburse the tuition fee paid by the students. The extent of reimbursement will be under three categories:

(a) 100% tuition fee of the meritorious students belonging to economically weaker section i.e. wards of parent/s who possess relevant card issued under the National Food Security Scheme,

(b) 50% of tuition fee to meritorious students having annual family income up to Rs. 2.50 lakh and are not covered under the National Food Security Scheme

(c) 25% reimbursement of tuition fee to meritorious students having annual income above Rs 2.50 lakh but below Rs 6 lakh. The qualifying aggregate percentage of marks for all three categories is 60%. A relaxation of 5% in qualifying aggregate percentage of marks will be allowed to SC/ST category students. The scheme will be administered and managed by the concerned Delhi state universities/institutions for themselves and for other colleges/institutions affiliated to them.

7) Prison Project Of National Law University, Delhi: Contributing To Legal Policy

Under the Centre for Constitutional Law, Policy, and Governance (CLPG) established in 2014, students would assist jail authorities in implementing Section 436 A, CrPC, and also contribute to legal policy. The policy interventions by the Centre provide assistance to Courts, prison authorities, and prisoners. Since the Centre also involves student volunteers for these projects, students also get an opportunity to contribute to legal policy, and to see how the law works in action, especially in its interaction with vulnerable communities. The work of the Centre also feeds into legal policy formulation, such as the 268th Report of the Law Commission of India on bail law, to which the faculty members of the Centre contributed.

8) Principal Development Programme

The principal, in Peter Senge’s language, is a fulcrum point leading learning and its process in the whole school. Principals are caught between a lot of different bodies, adding to their pressure; they are often caught between higher administrators, parents, teachers and their own sense of what students need. This programme helps identify the leadership qualities among the principals, nurture it, and then spread it among others. This programme is currently operating in 1024 government secondary schools through 60 motivated facilitators with exposure and educational trip to IIMs, Cambridge and Finland.

9) Transformative Learning Through Human Values: Helping Children Become Responsible Human Beings

With the rising cases of children in conflict with law or outright crime, their relations with their own parents and teachers are not cordial at times. Keeping this in mind, the government launched the Value Education Programme under the umbrella of Cell for Human Values and Transformative Learning, in March 2015, to understand and address these issues, and focus on the affective and psychomotor aspects, and not just cognitive aspects. Multiple workshops focusing on enhancing humanness, human values and human consciousness are held for school students, DIET trainees, teachers, teacher-educators, CRCs, BRPs SMC members, parents.

Featured image for representative purpose only.
Featured image source: Sanchit Khanna for Hindustan Times via Getty.
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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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