Kulgam school in Malwan is a classic success story of Project TALIM. This school is located in an isolated valley 15 Km from the district headquarters. Students enrolled in this school are predominantly first generation learners and their families are mostly marginal agriculturalists and labourers.
A major challenge working in government schools is building relationships with teachers and the education administration. Furthermore, there is a major trust deficit between the government system and the community. Moreover, while teachers are well-qualified as per subject knowledge, they lacked the skills necessary to make classrooms more engaging and inclusive.
The holistic TALIM intervention began first by studying the community’s context and identifying students who were either out-of-school or on the verge of dropping out from school. We also undertook a comprehensive assessment of the school vis-a-vis learning levels of students and the infrastructure. After undertaking this situation analysis in 2014, we worked towards building our teachers capacities. We conducted residential training camps in 2015 and 2016 to build our teachers’ competencies in classroom management, lesson planning, learning management and improving community engagement.
An important focus of our intervention was also to enhance leadership skills of the head of the institution. We laid emphasis on developing perspective on school leadership, developing self, transforming the teaching-learning process, building and leading teams, leading partnerships with government administration and community and fostering an environment for innovation.
We facilitated the school in preparing a systematic school development plan with clear quantifiable education outcomes and made them feel accountable to their plan. We organized 3-day training programme where all our teachers could brainstorm and prepare their own school development plans. These plans were shared with the community as well so as to ensure collective responsibility. CHINAR incorporated teacher incentives in the plans to encourage a result-oriented approach to its implementation.
The results were truly remarkable. The enhanced teaching skills saw systematic improvement in learning outcomes of all students due to more engaging and child-friendly classrooms. The extensive community engagement led by the teachers helped build trust. Regular community meetings reassured parents that their wards were in safe hands. We even saw government and private school teachers enrolling their wards in the school.
The proactive leadership of the head teacher and better linkage with the education administration saw education funds being utilized to the best possible extent – the school got a facelift; they bought a laptop; and organized co-curricular and extra-curricular activities.
The net result was that two private schools in the vicinity closed down and enrolment figures increased from 235 in 2014 to 269 in 2017. It is noteworthy since the average enrolment in government elementary schools (K-8th) of Kulgam district today is 46. These achievements were acknowledged by the District Development Commissioner and even the Hon. Minister for Education, Govt. of J&K. This success story has paved the way for CHINAR to sign a long term MoU with the District administration of Kulgam for expanding to more schools in the district.