Promoting Equity in Learning

Education is a public good and ensuring quality provision through public resources has been at the heart of our efforts. In working with the public system of education, we found that high dropout rates and poor student learning levels are still a cause of serious concern in the semi urban and rural areas of Bengal. Thousands of children are still out of school while others suffer from hidden exclusion of being in school but not learning. Under-resourced teaching learning practices, teacher absenteeism, deficiencies in teacher quality and poor classroom learning environment further point to the need for strengthening of the existing public system.

The link between education and community participation for better lives and livelihoods has been a central tenet of Vikramshila’s curricular experiments in both rural and urban areas. Quality education plays an important role in empowering people to make informed decisions that impact their families’ well-being and equip them with the skills to live secure and healthy lives. However, our experiences have led us to believe that results can only be assured where shared responsibility and accountability of the community is integrated in shaping the desired goals.

We got an opportunity to work around this premise when we were asked by Indienhilfe e.V. Herrsching, Germany to support our partner Seva Kendra Calcutta (SKC) in their educational efforts to promote equity in learning (PEL) in North 24 Parganas, Gobordanga, in 2 Gram Panchayats (GPs) of Swarupnagar block.

Seva Kendra which works in the project area since 2007; envisaging a child labour free region, has been identifying out of school and drop out children, motivating them to go to schools as well as advocating in the community to build a discourse on the importance of education. Their Child Rights Workers and volunteers tirelessly visit homes and schools, run motivation centres for school readiness of children and offer tuition support to ensure retention and help children cope with the school system. Vikramshila’s support to Seva Kendra is in the light of sharing our learning and experiences to make quality education available to these students that will enable them to continue their education, moving towards the goal of promoting equity in learning through a child labour free village.

These children are offered learning support in Seva Kendra’s motivation centres. After mainstreaming support, those who begin to go to schools are then provided support in 10 supplementary learning centres. We are also trying to converge efforts of the SKC staff and volunteers with that of the local community (parents) GPs, and school head masters and teachers to make the efforts emphatic and sustainable.