How to the school education department.

How to the school education and literacy department in a Jharkhand.

Context
Rapid expansion in school construction since the 1990s has resulted in significant
advancement on access and enrolment. This is driven by transformative national policies
such as Sarva Shikhsa Abhiyan (SSA), Rashtriya Madhyamik Siksha Abhiyaan (RMSA) and
the Right to Education (RTE), which have advocated taking the school to the doorstep of
every village and hamlet.
As a consequence, India currently has the largest school footprint in the world, with ~261
million students studying in 1.5 million schools out of which 1.1 million are public schools.1
India has nearly six times2
the number of schools as China while catering to a lower overall
population base.
The situation in Jharkhand was particularly dire in 2018.45% of schools had <60 students
enrolled and 65% of schools had just 1 or 2 teachers. Such schools are called sub-scale
schools and result in poor learning outcomes. Four key challenges of sub-scale schools are:
· Lack of child specific attention due to multi-grade and multi-level teaching: Subscale schools typically have 2 or less teachers for all of classes 1-5 (in primary schools)
or classes 6-8 (in middle schools). Teachers have to simultaneously teach all subjects to
children across multiple grades and diverse learning levels. Teachers are usually able to
focus on students of one grade only and find it impossible to deliver structured
education to all students in such environments.

ALSO READ : How to the school education in a sports department.
· Limited time available for teaching-due to admin tasks: In small schools, the teacher
is also responsible for admin & clerical work, supervising MDM, responding to data
requests etc. Our in-field studies indicate that in sub-scale schools, studying only
happens for the first 3 periods of the day, after which teachers focus on administrative
tasks. Additionally, when a teacher is absent or is called away for election duty, the
school almost ceases to function as there is little to no cover.
· Sub-scale schools typically do not have learning infrastructure: Infrastructure in
these schools is often inadequate and is limited to 2-3 classrooms. Governments also
typically tend to prioritize bigger schools for libraries, labs and computers etc.
· Monitoring & Governance also tends to be limited: From a system standpoint, the
very large number of schools make any visit-based monitoring/ accountability efforts
by block/ district officials difficult to execute. The focus of most programs thus
inevitably is larger schools.

The only solution to addressing the large number of sub-scale schools is to consolidate
nearby schools to create larger schools. The graphic below from Jharkhand shows that nearly
60% of the Gram Panchayats (GP) in Jharkhand have more than 5 schools. A typical Gram
Panchayat has a population of 7000-8000 people and hence ~1500-2000 students. If even
20% of these students go to private schools, one does not need more than 5 schools to
accommodate the students. Yet, in any GP one will find 5-7 primary schools (if not more) &
a host of middle and secondary schools.

Process Followed in Jharkhand
Step 1: GIS based geo-analytics to identify a list of consolidation candidates – Most
states now have the GIS locations of all their schools. A centralized & prescriptive process
based on enrolment and distance analytics helped identify 13,000 candidates for school
reorganization. Schools identified for re-organisation were within RTE norms:
· Primary schools with <60 students and within 1 km of host school
· Upper primary schools with <60 students and within 2 km of host school
· Same-campus schools within 100m of each other
Step 2: Field verifications of identified candidates – A database generated list is typically
far from accurate and needs field verification. Parameters including real enrolment, actual
distance, terrain in-between schools, host school capacity, socio-economic & demographic
constraints – e.g. language etc. need to be field verified. To ensure rigour and honesty, in
Jharkhand an unbiased cross-district action team undertook a second level of verification
over and above the local team (BRP/CRPs). There were therefore two-levels of field
verification of the candidates
Step 3: Obtaining necessary approvals for mergers – The verified list of schools was
processed for approvals through 2 levels of formal committees at the block and district level
which consist of teachers, elected representatives, as well as officials from departments..

This is in addition to ~1300 zero enrolment schools that were consolidated in 2017.
Step 4: Grievance redressal mechanisms – A robust time-bound grievance redressal
process where all stakeholders could register grievances each of which are tracked, reinvestigated and resolved at district level was conducted to maintain transparency and take
corrective action in case of exceptions.
Step 5: Post-mergers tracking – After schools were formally approved for mergers and
shifting began, the process of shifting was monitored and tracked very closely. This involves
real-time tracking & corrective action on 2 things namely:
· Administrative processes like transfer of money & closure of bank accounts, SMC reorganization, and re-use of vacated buildings.
· Status of students shifting from merged to host schoolswas tracked on a school by
school basis. This was followed by targeted community engagement and interventions
in schools with lowest rates of student shifting (usually because of inadequate
awareness or poor verification). 180 ‘red-flag’ cases were identified and detailed
personal visits by state officials were conducted to red-flag cases to engage with the
community and resolve local issues or reverse the order if necessary.At the end of the

effort, 98% of students shifted to nearby schools. The remaining 2% may be long term
absentees, fake enrolments etc.

Step 6: Teacher Rationalization – Once mergers are executed, the exercise resulted in
significant numbers of surplus teachers or headmasters/principals in several schools. These
teachers were rationalized to improve PTR.
Impact
A survey was conducted with the students, parents and teachers who had shifted to new host
schools and 96% of the stakeholders reported that they were happy and satisfied with their
new school. Students were engaged in discussions during field visits by all department
officials (SPD, Director Primary, DSEs/DEOs, ADPOs etc.). Students showed excitement
and enthusiasm towards their new host schools because of the multiple facilities available in
the school such as playgrounds, library, better toilets, classroom infrastructure etc.
School consolidation has provided multiple benefits to the students in form of
· Better teaching facilities with dedicated teachers for each grade
· Improved disciplinary and academic environment in schools
· Access to schools with better infrastructure
· Larger peer group which has resulted in better attendance
· Access to effectively administered schools with more resources

· Improved school monitoring and scheme supervision etc.
· Dedicated administrative support and increased teaching time in classrooms
Today, the impact of school re-organisation in Jharkhand is already visible. It has resulted in
significant cost savings, vastly improved PTR, reduced MGML in classroom, and most
importantly, better learning outcomes.

Learning data collected from over 2 Lakh students clearly indicates that larger host schools
are delivering significantly higher learning outcomes than smaller sub-scale schools.

Example of Success Story: MS Talab, Sahiganj
Govt MS Talab in Sahibganj district of north eastern Jharkhand has recently seen a huge influx
of students – its enrolment has jumped from 160 a few months ago to 254 now! The genesis of
this sudden rise in enrolment can be credited to the recent school re-organisation initiative
launched by the government of Jharkhand under Project SATH. The government has taken the
bold step of merging small, dysfunctional schools with larger host schools nearby to create large,
integrated and more vibrant centers of learning which can also be more efficiently administered.
MS Talab has emerged as a champion case of this process, recently being visited and praised by
officials from the state government and NITI Aayog as well.
As a part of the re-organisation, MS Talab absorbed 52 students from Govt PS Banpar Tola and
UPG PS Ambedkar, 2 small schools that used to operate just a few hundred meters away.
However, an additional 40+ students have also left nearby private schools in search of better
education. Rather than spend out of pocket to send their children to private schools, the local
community now has a renewed faith in public education because of the dramatically improved
academic environment at MS Talab. 5 teachers from the 2 merged schools have joined the host
schools, taking the total teacher strength to 12 teachers across 8 grades. Instead of a single
teacher teaching 3 different grades in the erstwhile schools, the new host school now has grade-

wise and subject-wise teachers which dramatically increases the attention and relevant
instruction given to each child. Female teachers have also been a fortuitous beneficiary of the reorganisation process. While it was very difficult to be absent from school in 1 or 2 teachers
schools without compromising learning, they can now avail of their legally mandated special
leave more easily given a total of 12 teachers. Moreover, the school has also benefited from an
infrastructure boost with benches, desks & other infra that has been brought in from the merged
schools.
Another catalyst behind the transformation in MS Ta-lab is the principal, Manoj Kumar Ray.
Formerly, one of 2 teachers in a much smaller school Ban-par Tola, Manoj Kumar Ray has energized MS Ta-lab. He has brought in a sense of discipline among-st the teachers and actively
engaged the local community, distributing flyers and posters to educate parents about the
improved teacher strength and infrastructure in the new school. As enrollment grew, the school
has invested in piped water, cleaned up the dumping ground by appealing to the N agar Palika
with increased parent strength & pressure, and raised funds to give all the walls a new paint job.
A small library and reading room has also been opened up to benefit younger students, most of
whom seem delighted to be in a school with a large playground and the opportunity to make
newer friends. This has manifested in a gradual improvement in the rate of attendance over time.
As the Principal noted, “Baccho mien bi padhai ki ruchi a gay i hie. Those who are not doing
politics understand the benefit of the school re-organisation process.” He is confident that over
time, MS Ta-lab will be a standout example and rival the best of private schools in the district

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