Bridging Gaps in Education: Ensuring Quality Education for Every Urban Deprived Child in Bangalore

January 07, 2015Neha Sanwal

Corporates, NGOs, Government Departments, Funding Agencies, Philanthropists, Social Clubs & Volunteers come together to discuss Bridging Gaps in Education: Ensuring Quality Education for Every Urban Deprived Child in Bangalore. Organizing Partners of the event were, the Center for Education Innovations, Let’s Do Some Good Foundation, and Samridhdhi Trust.

The Symposium on 13th December opened to about 90 participants from 40 different organizations. There was a mix of NGOs and implementers (23), corporate and donors (10), Education consulting firms (3) and representatives from the government department in the audience.

The welcome address was given by Mr Warrier, CEO, Manipal Foundation. In his address he spoke about the 3Ps which are a must in any work area; these are People, Passion and Partnerships. He also added that if one adds trust and transparency to these three things then any organization, any idea can strive and success. He stressed on the need to share our knowledge more and more amongst each other and learn to give it from the heart.

This was followed by address from Ms. Shamshunnisa, Program Officer, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan. Ms. Shamshunnisa brought forward the issues pertaining to access of education in the state of Karnataka. She talked about the different approaches and ways in which the Karnataka State department was trying to work at the issues of access and quality education and the challenges that they have been facing in Karnataka. She shared the findings of a survey done by the department in November 2013. This survey covered the out of school children. Few key points were:

  • Mainstreaming of dropouts is a very challenging task and it requires special course and training.
  • In spite of the hard work of the government and implementing NGOs there is still a gap and 168621 children still out of school.
  • Bringing the number of dropout children to zero is possible only by involving all the stakeholders (government, NGOs, practitioners, etc.) at various levels.
  • It is necessary to categorize the reasons of children dropping out and then target each of the segments with a separate solution and this is where organizations working in specific sectors can play a major role. She gave the example of how Samridhdhi Trust has take up the work with migrating children and is supporting Government in mainstreaming these students tracking and training these children.

She invited all the organizations to share their innovative ideas with the department and work with the Government to eradicate the problems plaguing the education space.

This was followed by a presentation by Ms. Shoma Bakre, Founder & Trustee, Lets Do some Good Foundation. In her presentation, she briefed the audience about BANGALORE EFFECTIVE EDUCATION TASK-FORCE (BEETF) and the work the organization has been pursuing. She also mentioned on the various schemes available and importance of working with Government department. Ms. Bakre said that the need of the hour is PPP and that we need to collaborate for bringing about a positive social change.

Ms. Neha Sanwal from Centre for Education Innovations (CEI)-India presented next and briefed the audience about the work being carried on by CEI in India. CEI follows a three pronged 

approach of IDENTIFY, ANALYZE and CONNECT and works in four thematic areas; Public Private Partnership, Affordable Private Education, Technology in Education and Youth Employability.

After the introductory presentations, there was a hour break where in the participants went and visited the exhibition stalls put by the different NGOs. There were 14 different stalls that had been put up by the NGOs. During this all the participants interacted amongst each other and tried to get an understanding of their work.

The second session opened with an announcement from Mr Sriram from Airvana about a fundraising activity which will be held on the 14th of February 2015.

The first session on Appraising Education Sector Proposals was lead by Mr Naveen Jha, CEO, Deshpande Foundation-India: He gave insights about the way funders look at proposals and their appraising process. He emphasized on the fact that different funders may have different outlook and different expectations from proposals. Few key points from his address were:

  • To avoid complex jargon in the proposal and be specific about their program and its details. It should be written keeping in mind that the person considering the proposal will have less idea of the ground and limited time to go through the details.
  • To be sensitive towards the Cost Benefit Analysis as it is an important component of any good proposal and helps to see how close it is to the benchmark made in terms of unit cost.
  • Good contextual understanding, properly validated idea, execution ability of local team, clearly defined target, clarity in terms of fixed and flexible targets, ability to scale up are few factors which add up to a good proposal.
  • It is expected that an organization should have a clear focus and doesn’t get influenced easily.
  • The challenges of the project should be recognized at the outset by the NGOs/implementers.
  • The most important factor in running a successful program and getting the required fuel to run it is dependent on how well we can integrate the resources around us.

This was followed by a few questions posed by the audience to him. The participants wanted to know from him if there is a set industry standard or a benchmark for drafting a proposal.
The second session was a Panel Discussion led by Mr. Nitin Rao, CEO, Catalyst Management Services. The other panelists were Dhananjay Karopday (Research Consultant, APF), Ms. Anita 

 Mathews (Consultant, Concern India Foundation) and Ms. Devyani Srnivasan (Independent M&E Consultant). The topic for  discussion was “Impact measurement in education sector”. It was a very educative and informative session which allowed the  panel to put forth their views and for the audience to put forth their queries regarding impact measurement and its various facets  to the panel. Few key points from the discussion were:

  • Organizations’ perspective on impact evaluation versus funders’ perspective; the differences in opinions and gaps seen. 
  • Is there a need for change of mindset towards program evaluations?
  • The role of resources in impact assessment and the limits of resource investment for impact assessment given that resources are always limited in development sector.
  • Monitoring and evaluation appears more as a corporate concept, then is it valid to bring the concept into development sector?
  • The methods to define theory of change.
  • Is it ethical to measure a work which is carried out for a cause of social development?
  • The stage in a program’s lifecycle at which an organization should think of impact evaluation.

Few of the points that emerged from this discussion were

  • There is a problem of capacity and organizations don’t have the right staff or resources to document their work.
  • Impact needs to be seen from the point of view of learning and creating evidence of one’s work and not from accountability and judgment perspective.
  • Donors/funders also need to be more patient in terms of results as in education sector the impact might take years. Moreover rather than being concerned about reaching a number, qualitative aspect of it should be the focus of any donor.
  • Impact should be thought of right from the beginning of a project and the activities should be flexible and the impact fixed.
  • If one looks at the monitoring and evaluation from scaling up point of view, the money used in impact assessment will look more as an investment and not as expenditure.
  •  Constant evaluation is necessary for the organizations themselves to help keep track of the work and understand the positives and negatives of the program. Many times impact assessment can provide eye opening insights and help us save on resources.
  • All the stakeholders should be made aware and involved in the study so that they don’t take it as a test rather view it as a medium of learning.
  • Clarity on the outcome and outputs while defining the metrics for assessment. There are many methods and tools available for impact assessment of a program but one should clearly differentiate among- what you see, what you wish to see and what you would love to see. Funder and the organization need to jointly discuss and plan measurement metrics.

The session concluded with the house agreeing that the numbers and data do not lie. However one must decide on the lens with which they want to view the assessment and then initiate the process.

This was followed by an open house Question & Answer session. The session was led by Ms. Mom Banerjee, Founder, Samridhdhi Trust. Few of the questions that were discussed by the house were:

  • Methods and approaches to bring migrating out of school children back to school. The methodology to teach all these kids from such varied backgrounds and languages together.
  • How to keep a track of these children considering the fact that they are continuously on a move?
  • Funding is a very important part of any successful program but the requirement of funding agencies is sometimes different. Their focus is on ROI while organizational focus is on investing more and more in work at ground level. How to bring these two players to a common page of understanding?
  • Problem of duplication and multiplicity of efforts by NGOs, Government and corporate to address the same problem. Absence of a proper system and structure leads to same students being targeted by different agencies and provided with same help.
  • Ways to make children the key stakeholder in the process/program.

The session concluded by touching upon two important aspects of intervention. One, organizations work in silos focusing on a particular age group which generally leaves out students from any other age group. Thus it might be a good idea if organizations club together and through the established links, handover the children to the other organization after successful completion of its program so that ultimately impact is created. Second, looking at the need of the country much more deep and wide work has to be carried out so we should focus both on hand holding till the final impact achievement has been created and delivered.

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