We cheer the participation of women members. Gender equality helps in ensuring focus on education for girl children and an increased agency for women. An active community interaction, encourages greater students’ enrolment rates besides creating a greater accountability among the school administration and teachers.
Kanan Silvera is the Hunar Ghar Project Manager. Here she describes a typical busy day, rich with interactions with Hunar Ghar students, teachers at the school and members of the community. Kanan’s busy schedule reflects the breadth of the work being undertaken by Educate for Life to ensure that the health and educational needs of the Bakhel community are met.
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We all know that Community Participation is important when it comes to development projects. For a donor, these days it might even be a decisive factor of whether to give or not. Certainly in th e Big Lottery Fund Application we are currently writing, it is something they want to assured of, and rightly so.
The question is, how do you involve the community in the running of a school? The Government of India has passed a required that every school should have a School Management Committee. As they put it, “School Management Committee means the decentralised unit of School Management for the purpose of Planning, Monitoring and other decision making matters” (Right to Education Act 2009). The reality is though that many schools don’t have a School Management Committee, and if they do then they don’t meet regularly, or parents and even teachers don’t know about it; it is more the fulfilment of bureaucratic demands than anything else.
At Hunar Ghar we’ve recently started having School Management Committee meetings – we call them Hunar Ghar Management Committee meetings. We’re trying to develop our committee to be a genuinely useful activity, to use it to communicate with the community in a transparent and structured way where the team is held accountable to the elected community members.
We formed the Hunar Ghar Management Committee in September with 15 members involvement. 13 members are parents of students of Hunar Ghar School; another 3 are staff of Hunar Ghar School. This is good way to engaged community with school.
We started off by using the meetings to communicate a number of key ideas, to help develop a knowledge and vocabulary in the community surrounding:
- The implications of poor learning outcomes
- The implications of the government’s Right to Education law on village school life
- Understand school norms and standards
- Understand schooling status of children in Hunar Ghar School
- Understand the concept of quality of learning
- Develop the community’s ability to monitor Hunar Ghar outcomes on a regular basis: Attendance –teachers’ & students’; Food Quality; Time table & lesson plan; School Programs – Child exposure trips & Child Learning Demonstration Days
In December we To continued to develop the committee members’ active participation. In this meeting 3 new members joined the committee. New member Mr. Shankarlal was delegated to monitor school food quality by coming to observe school lunch. Mr. Naniyaram visited and observed all classes while Mr. Singaram & Laduram checked school cleanliness. Our School staff also informed them about our Hunar Ghar activity plan for January, into which they all give their input.
It was really an amazed moment for Hunar Ghar process manager Kanan when she saw the committee members observing classes and looking at the children’s activities pinned in the wall and asking what activities they were. They were also asking for child attendance and teacher attendance, and trying to understand school functioning. They expressed their happiness by saying “Hamre bachcho ne achcha kam kiya hai to unke paper diwar pe chipkaye hai aur hume ye dekhkar bohot khushi ho rahi hai – “Our children are doing good work and that’s why their drawing are pinned on the wall. It makes us really happy to see this”.
Committee members reporting on their monitoring activities to the school and community
It may not seem like a great deal, but it is indicative of a big change in the community outlook on the school. In this community school is traditionally just a place where you send your child. Parents are very unlike to ask their children about their day, or be interested in what they have done at school. This may be because they themselves have never been to school, so they don’t know what to expect. By meeting with community representatives on a monthly basis and providing them with structured support in understanding what they should expect and demand from school it is beginning to give them a tangible way to get involved with school like. By delegating monitoring roles to individuals then them visiting Hunar Ghar between committee meetings then reporting on their findings in the next committee meeting we are beginning to enable the community to find value in visiting Hunar Ghar, and help them become qualified to genuinely take responsibility for specific areas of our activity.
In the coming months we will continue to develop monitoring expertise in attendance, food, and school cleanliness. Later, we’ll add in additional metrics. Kanan will meet you soon in SMC part with next meeting updates.
This blog post was written by Kanan and Ed