Sometimes charting the course of action that leads to change is difficult. But, once you do, what surfaces aren’t actions of immense genius but they are small, subtle and most importantly consistent. An example of this would be our journey with FES.
FES, our first partner school is quite special to us for many reasons. The school is the first to graduate out of our program. It has been a melting pot of various activities, has played host to many a partnership and has witnessed structures, processes, and infrastructures take shape in the last 2 years. Therefore, when the tenth class results were announced we were very anxious and excited. The results for us were more than a pleasant surprise.
Same time last year, the school had a pass percentage of 25%, absolutely no students with a distinction and a very disappointed and frustrated school leader. This time, however, with a pass percentage of 50% and a fair few distinctions, we were met with a very happy and hopeful school leader. Happy, for the obvious reason of the increase in pass percentage. Hopeful, for now, he believes that consistent actions can lead to improvement and growth.
In retrospect, four small changes that we were able to bring about, ranging from a change in mindset to amending the existing systems and processes helped us achieve this.
- One of our biggest wins is that we were able to convince the school leader that investing in good quality teachers is more profitable than trying to save a few thousand rupees by recruiting teachers who aren’t aptly qualified for the job. This was a huge shift, as now there are teachers in the school with B.Ed degree and appropriate subject knowledge.
- Far from the usual practice, since 2016, the ninth graders were mandated to take their final exams a couple of months ahead of the usual month of March. This system was followed up by classes for the next year (for the outgoing ninth graders), getting advanced to April as opposed to June. What this small change ensured was that there was ample time for the children to revise concepts and prepare for their board exams.
- The pass percentage was also positively affected by the institution of the second tier of leadership. This helped, as there was a headmistress who allotted a considerable amount of her time in the high school while an academic coordinator took care of the primary and middle school classes. They monitored classes, gave feedback to teachers, helped establish a continuous evaluation system and tracked the progress of kids all year round.
- Finally, the children of the high school had attended a function early on in 2016. This was a function felicitating and awarding scholarships to students who performed well in their board exams. “As the other children witnessed how help and support was available to children who wanted to study well, some of them were motivated to put in their best.”, noted the school leader.
These are changes that need fine tuning, but it serves as a guiding light for the schools and instills a sense of possibility in them.
The school still has a long way to go and we are proud to help the school get the initial push towards the long journey of providing quality education to the children. We hope that under the great leadership of the Principal, Florida English school reaches greater heights!
-Written by Ms. Amrutha Krishnan, School Transformation Lead, Mantra4Change