Newsletter July – August 2016

Lend A Hand India

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Dear Readers, Lend A Hand India is glad to launch and share with you all its eNewsletter for the period June-August 2016.  The purpose is to share the latest developments with our friends, supporters, schools and teachers, volunteers and well-wishers.  Your response, feedback will boost our energy and help us do better.


MAJOR HAPPENINGS


First batch of Multi Skill Foundation Course (MSFC) graduated in May 2016!

The ten years grass roots work of Lend A Hand India of scaling up the high school based skill education and the advent of national initiative of ‘vocationalization of secondary education’ culminated in to inclusion of the skill education model implemented by Lend A Hand India in the National Skill Qualification Framework (NSQF).  This was a long journey of three years concerted efforts with the Maharashtra State Education Department as well as Ministry of Human Resource Development at the Central Government level.  From the year 2015, Multi Skill Foundation Course (MSFC) is now included in the offerings available under NSQF, across the country.

The first batch of the MSFC program under NSQF was launched in November 2014 in Maharashtra state in government run and supported schools in Pune City. This program is implemented by the Government of Maharashtra through the Centrally Sponsored Scheme, students in 9th and 10th grade were given option of choosing one course out of the two offered – MSFC and Retail.  From 8 secondary schools 172 students choose MSFC and 176 students choose Retail course.   The assessment of the students was conducted by the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) approved Sector Skill Councils at 9th and 10th grade level.  The 10th grade examination – secondary school graduation examination  – was held in May 2016 and the results were announced in June.

The very first batch of 172 students in the country graduated in MSFC course with 100% results!  The highest ranking student scored 96 marks out of 100. Some of these students are now expected to enroll for Level III of the course and also simultaneously enrolling for regular college studies.  This is a path breaking change the NSQF is bringing by integrating skill and academic education!


Lend-A-Hand-India Partnerships with Government

Lend A Hand India program strategy, as defined at the time of establishment of the organization, is “to identify successful and sustainable pilots created by grass root non-profit organizations and scale them up. (LAHI Film) Lend A Hand India was also very clear from the beginning that in a country like India scaling up to reach the needy and remote populations cannot happen without active collaboration with the government.

With these two very clear and well entrenched strategies, Lend A Hand India worked for first six years (2005 – 2011) to establish the paradigm of introduction of skill education in secondary schools at scale in the state of Maharashtra.  After reaching over 50 schools and over 6000 students, an independent mid-course evaluation of the project was conducted in 2012.  The outcome of the evaluation proved that the project had positive impact on not only the students but also the schools: increased enrollment in technical schools – including that of girls, increased attendance, better high school results.  With these results, from 2012 Lend A Hand India ventured into introducing the program outside the state of Maharashtra and also its policy advocacy efforts.  The efforts received imputes with the government also launching ‘vocationalization of secondary education’ initiative as a part of its focus on improving secondary education in the country.

Three years of concerted efforts and with the help of several well-wishers, Lend A Hand India was able to get the multi-skill course module included in the National Skill Qualification Framework (NSQF) towards the end of 2014.  This paved a way for scaling up of the multi-skill course module across the country.

In 2015 Lend A Hand India entered in Memorandum of Association with Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA), Dept. of Education, Govt. of Maharashtra to provide implementation and project management support to its path-breaking skill education initiative in 350 government high schools in the State.  Besides Govt. of Maharashtra, in 2015, MOU with the Govt. of Haryana was signed followed by several other states in 2016.

  • On March 21st 2016, LAHI signed a memorandum of understanding with Andhra Pradesh Skill Development Corporation to achieve the objective of bridging the gap between demand and supply of skilled population and increase employability of the youth
  • On April 14 2016, signed a memorandum of understanding with Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan, Govt. of Gujarat to introduce the National Skill Qualification Framework (NSQF) based vocational education and to promote ‘vocationalization of secondary education’ in the state
  • On July 2nd 2016, signed a memorandum of understanding with Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan, Govt. of Telangana to promote ‘vocationalization of secondary education’ in Telangana state

On July 25th 2016, signed a memorandum of understanding between Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan,  Directorate of Education, NCT of Delhi to support RMSA, NCT of Delhi for implementation of ‘vocationalization of secondary and higher secondary education’


Celebration of Youth Skills Day

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World Youth Skills Day

In 2015, the United Nations declared 15th July as World Youth Skills Day. This is the second year of its celebrations. Several schools in Maharashtra celebrated the day by undertaking various activities involving the entire schools as well as communities around it.  These included classroom sessions on the importance of life skills, group activities, games and experience sharing sessions.  Some schools also celebrated the day by organizing a Skill Day rallies in the community and holding different skills based competitions for students.


Launch of ‘Smart Schools Program’

Lend-a-Hand India launched “Smart Schools Program’ in secondary schools in Mumbai at the hands of Mr. Deepak Mangla, CEO and Global Head of the Global Service Centers.  JP Morgan Chase Foundation is supporting this initiative and will be implemented in Brihan Mumbai Municipal Corporation Schools.  The launch was marked by formation of a working group on ‘Enabling Integration of Skill Development with Mainstream Education’ at R.S.T School, Govandi, Mumbai.  The program which will harness the voluntary power of 1,300 J.P. Morgan employees in Mumbai. The aim of the project is to help make the current wave of skill based education more relevant and effectual for the students. A constant channel to share ideas and inputs will be developed with the inclusion of like-minded people and organizations working in the same field.



Projects Reinforcing Secondary Education (PRISE): PRISE Projects

To reinforce and strengthen the secondary school outcomes for the students, Lend A Hand India, based on its decade long on the ground experience in the schools across five states felt the need for complimenting the ongoing secondary education with additional inputs.  This will strengthen the training of teachers, curriculum delivery, enhance enrolment of students, and make secondary schooling a rewarding experience for the students.  

Project Saad (Listening to inner voice) and Workshops for Mathematics Teachers are two initiatives which were launched on experimental basis.


Project ‘Saad’

Skill education complemented with inputs such as counseling, career planning, personality development, communication skills, group work would enhance the high school students’ ability to face the world of work or even higher studies with confidence.

Project Saad is aimed at inculcating the above qualities among the high school students to build more holistic personality to succeed in the competitive world.

In the academic year 2014-15, project Saad was experimented in twelve schools.  The counseling module provides a non-judgmental, confidential and unconditional listening service to facilitate sharing and creative expression. The trained counsellors use psychology counseling tools for facilitation.  The personality development and communication module is fully participatory and completely cognizant about the students’ background and their environment.

In this academic year a pilot project is launched in 5 government schools in Pune covering 300 students of 9th grade. The baseline study is over and the sessions have started from August.


Maths Teacher Trainings

Mathematics – one of the most interesting subjects to learn!  In today’s global knowledge based economy, progress in the field of Mathematics and Science has got major significance. Mathematically literate society shapes the knowledge based economy of the 21st century. At the same time, mathematical proficiency is universally considered hard to achieve. Mathematics is also one of the ‘killer’ subjects in which many students fail. Some children are pushed out of the schools due to burden Mathematics put on their lives.

Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) carries out arithmetic test for the children in India and the report speaks for the status of Mathematics in India at primary level. The 2013 report states that children still struggles with basic arithmetic. Another report on status of Mathematics subject at secondary level states that “Mathematics classroom tends to become uninteresting for students. Mathematics is taught by teachers who are not very confident of their mathematics. Even in cases where mathematics graduates or post graduates teach the subject, their conceptual understanding may be inadequate. So it is a great challenge to create good team of Mathematics teachers. For conceptual understanding, mathematics teaching should be activity based and child centric. There should be innovation in terms of teaching mathematical concepts to students.  Educational aids should be used for better learning of the subject. New methods need to be devised to link the concepts in the Mathematics with real time scenarios. However, without good and innovative teachers this is hard to achieve.” The National Curriculum Framework 2005 (NCF) has taken substantial efforts to revise the syllabus. The main goal of mathematics education emphasized in NCF 2005 is ‘mathematization’ of the child’s thought and processes. Mathematics teachers should be one of the main stakeholders of the program as they are the one who can make larger impact on the lives of the students.

After the first workshop conducted in 2007 for about 30 Mathematics teachers from the schools where the multi-skill education project and its spectacular outcome, Lend A Hand India wanted to continue with the efforts and was seeking resources which will allow experimentation. Improving the teaching of Mathematics in the schools and thereby the performance of the students in the subject was directly complementary to the skill development project in the schools.

The Mathematics teachers’ associations, the government teachers training institutions conduct training workshops for mathematics teachers.  These are one of the efforts without follow up or support mechanism.  Lend A Hand India identified this gap and designed a program for Mathematics teachers after surveying over 100 mathematics teachers.  The project with several unique features was called ‘Saadhe Soppe Ganit’ (Maths made Easy) and was launched in December 2015.

For visible and measurable impact it was decided to take up one complete district, covering all its blocks, for the project. The district education administration was involved in identifying the sending teachers from five schools from each block consistently. A set of four, two-day, residential workshops were planned with four to six weeks’ interval to give time for teachers to practice the learnings and seek help if needed.  Experts with long experience in teaching the subject at primary and secondary level were involved in delivering the workshops.  The entire approach was learning by doing and then practicing live in their regular classes.

As part two of the program, the teachers who participated in the four workshops were offered an opportunity of one year Fellowship.  The Fellowship consisted of financial and mentoring assistance to dedicatedly improve the performance of students in their own schools in Mathematics, to undertake co-curricular activities related to the subject of mathematics, to pass on the training they received to five mathematics teachers of their choice, and to enrich their own knowledge and practice of Mathematics through training, reading, developing lab, library etc.

Starting with first workshop in December 2015, the series of four workshops concluded in April 2016.  55 Mathematics teachers from 11 blocks from Satara district attended the program.  The outcomes are highly satisfying, both for the teachers and Lend A Hand India.

Following the training and after long application process which also included submission of annual plan for fellowship, school visit to see the teachers’ in action and the support that he/she can seek from the school, and personal interview, finalization of Fellowship for Ten teachers is in the process.  They start their work in August 2016.    The entire effort has received strong support from the district education department of the district.

Over 100 trained and motivated mathematics teachers, armed with knowledge, methods, ideas, and modern tools such as internet research ability, use of soft wares such as LaTex and Geogebra is a concrete and good beginning to address the long felt challenge of teaching and learning Mathematics.


Project Kalpak

Project KALPAK is an initiative to identify young talent and give them a platform to nurture their creativity at an early age. Kalpak is delivered as a residential week long camp for students who are selected through a three stage process.  The basic qualification is a student who thinks out of the box and is courageous enough to experiment on his/her ideas.

By visiting schools, to select students Kalpak camp, through the process of test, group discussion and interviews, a batch of about 30 Kalpak Champs is selected.  Besides the Lend A Hand India’s creative team several external experts are involved with the camp. Post camp, students are given homework which consists of small projects such as surveys, observations and recording them, piloting the project on which he/she has worked during the camp.  Follow up with the students is maintained through the field officers who visit the school on regular basis. The ultimate objective is to encourage students to think, generate ideas, by providing them suitable environment and guidance, develop confidence to take action.

Think and generate ideas, work on the ideas by seeing help, sharing the success and failure with the team, colleagues, asking questions, all of this was a very new experience for the students.  The conduct of first two camps made us realize that the students needed a structure.  Leaving them to explore and experiment on their own was not getting anywhere, also given the short duration of time with them.

This resulted in a design of set of three workshops.  First workshop to expose the students to the idea of Kalpak and make friends with students from other schools, second one to help them crystalize some ideas and actually work on them, and the third one to actually work, shadow, spend time with someone who has gone through such processes and is engaged with the idea, profession, career.  This is with the objective of understanding the process and the journey.  The first batch of Kalpak Champs will go through the third level workshop in the winter of 2016.

In all so far three Kalpak camp have been held – November 2015 (28 students), May 2016 (23 students) and April 2016 (34 students).  With close to 100 students going through the Kalpak experience Lend A Hand India is exploring the possibility of taking Kalpak to the door step of the schools as we believe each school has potential Kalpak Champs and deserve to get an opportunity to explore themselves and their own ideas through the Kalpak experience.  We are working on resources and availability of facilitators.


Instructor Trainings

Instructors who deliver the skill education program in the schools are the backbone of the success of the Lend A Hand India’s projects on the ground.  Training of these instructors are conducted twice a year during long school breaks. Apart from the syllabus, these trainings focus on teaching technology, documentation, communication and community relations. The instructors also get to meet their peers from other schools and provide a platform to share experiences and cross-learning.

In the months of June and July, about 150 instructors were trained in three, week long, residential trainings held in Pune. Here are some exit interview reactions of the trainees:

“This is an excellent cross-learning program where not only do we learn a lot from our instructors but the instructors are also open to new ideas and techniques. If you look at the training groups, it is hard to distinguish the trainers from the trainees.”

“We had fun just like children dismantling, understanding and assembling household items.”

“At the beginning, looking at the photos (of children busy in IBT practicals on standees and information leaflets) we could not imagine our students attempting any of these. Now, the school has started giving us bulk orders for chikki and ladoo every Thursday.”

“Much of this knowledge, you already had before coming to the training. All we have done is to give you a professional edge. After this training, you now have excellent ideals (master trainers) in front of you, who have not only been your guides but your friends as well. Similarly, be with your students as their guides and friends. Pass on the knowledge.” – Sunanda Mane


HEAD OFFICE UPDATES

LAHI’s Annual Meet 2016-17

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Every year, ordinarily in the month of May-June, all the Lend A hand India team comes together for two to three days.  This is the time to review the last year’s work, share the new developments, and review the project-wise plans so that the entire team, now spread over four locations, is on the same page.

This year’s annual meet was held from June 8th to 10th at Chinmaya Vibhooti Ashram, near Pune.  In all 90 team members attended the meet and enjoyed the 65 acre campus of the Mission, starting at 6.30 in the morning till almost 11 pm.  The highlights of the meet were learning about the Govt. of Maharashtra partnership project “Vocationalization of Secondary Education” spread over the entire state – 36 district – reaching to 311 schools and 14882 students in the first year; a Drumming session with Taal, and Open Forum with the Directors.  The teams returned to their respective locations at the end of the three days relaxed and refreshed to take on the new academic year. Wonder if next year when we could be more than 100, we can meet at one place!


Ringing in the new!

Lend A Hand India in the past two years has grown almost 200%.  In our head office at Pune we are now 40 plus strong!  This necessitated reorganizing the office space.  The reorganizing was going on for more than six months.  We now have a renovated office and even the outside space. We are planning to landscape the outside area with the help of our Gardening and Nursery Techniques instructor, Keshav. The adjoining pictures of the renovated office are taken by Sumit.


LAHI Pune Team Initiatives

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Chai Pe Charcha!
The first Chai Pe Charcha session for the academic year was conducted by Sanket, Vijay and Nagnath who spoke on ‘Imagining Development: Vision to Reality’ based on the training they had attended at the Azim Premji University, Bangalore. This training program served as a platform for representatives of corporates and NGOs to come together and learn about sustainable development based on the approaches of reformist leaders such as M. K. Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore.
The 10-day workshop took participants on a road trip starting from the very basics of development, the MDGs (Millennium Development Goals) SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) and helped them understand concept and replication of models like Manda Lekha; rural self-governance, Mondragon Corporation; the world leader in cooperative movement and a field visit was conducted to Jakkur Lake; a potential model for urban water sustainability.
The program also discussed in detail alternative models of education like the Nai Talim Education System and their role in aiding rural development in today’s changing world.

That is all from us. Until next time. Your feedback is very important to us. Stay connected!

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