“When it comes to education, there can only be two types of people, teachers & their friends (students). How do we translate this quote into our lives’ reality, and into our daily practice?” asked Anurag Kundu, honorable member of Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights (DCPCR).
Here lies the birth of the idea. The idea of a project, a massive exercise to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of 5650 in Delhi on safety, learning and inclusion criteria.
Since August 2018, Mantra4Change became one of the partners of DCPCR in its School Development Index project. Mantra4Change has been engaging with the Commission to conduct a comprehensive school evaluation by ensuring the effectiveness of the assessment tool in alignment to the purpose of the exercise. Considering the scale of the project, Mantra has developed a robust assessment tool – a user-friendly mobile application – Samiksha.
The exercise is particularly useful in building a culture that is celebratory and acknowledges high performance and improvement. The key component of the Index is its clear intent of recognizing best practices, achievement, and improvement to make it aspirational for all stakeholders to collaborate and do better. Hence the tagline of the project is “Enabling Schools, Changing Lives”.
It is pertinent to note that most advanced democracies and countries have independent school evaluation mechanisms inbuilt in their governance design. In India, attempts at school evaluations have been undertaken with different purposes. However, no attempt wherein there was no conflict of interest has been undertaken thus far in this history. This is also the first time a State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (SCPCR) has undertaken such large-scale monitoring exercise and will set a precedent for all State Commissions in India.
Mantra is playing a key role during and post the evaluation exercise to assist the Commission in making informed decisions and in encouraging schools to implement contextual school development plans. The technological platform would be utilized to manage and collect data across schools, create dashboards for stakeholders across different levels, and leverage technology to achieve the goals of the assessment.
Post evaluation, the dashboards will help the education departments and DCPCR to observe improvements in schools on an ongoing basis as schools will have a login option and update their performance as and when they improve on specific sub-theme of the criteria. The Govt of NCT of Delhi and partner organizations (Teach For India, Central Square Foundation, Mantra4Change etc.) are building systems to make the processes for evaluations long-term.
This has been truly emerging as a statewide education reform in collaboration with all major stakeholders towards collective action. DCPCR wishes to conduct this school evaluation exercise on an annual basis along with the education departments in Delhi. The assessment and evaluation aim to celebrate and foster quality improvements in schools while holding accountable schools and concerned authorities for failing to make basic improvements.
It is this commitment to improving governance and openness to be held accountable that makes the project unique and the Index will emerge as a key initiative of Delhi Government which has already been acknowledged worldwide for education reforms.
By Vasundhara, Program Director, Mantra4Change