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SAMARTH

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Last Updated On: 13/01/2017  
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SAMARTH: STATEWIDE SYSTEMIC REFORMS TO IMPROVE THE QUALITY OF EDUCATION


The State Government of Himachal Pradesh has embarked on an ambitious state-wide systemic transformation programme to improve the quality of education in the state’s ~14000 elementary government schools. While the HP government has improved both access to and equity in education across the state, the ‘quality’ aspect of education still needs improvement.  The focus of the programme “Samarth” is to improve the learning levels of students through systemic interventions. The Directorate of Elementary Education (DEE) and Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) have partnered with a social development consulting organization to transform elementary education in the state.  The key focus of the programme for the next 2 years is:

  • Improve learning levels by 8-10 percentage points

  • Achieve grade-level competencies for at least 75% students across elementary grades

  • Ensure Himachal is among top 3 states in National Achievement Survey (NAS)

The programme has been divided into three phases: diagnostic, design and implementation.

  • During the diagnostic phase a full-scale problem identification exercise was conducted wherein each of the 12 districts in Himachal were visited, large scale surveys were carried out, and expert interviews and discussions were held with various internal and external stakeholders.

  • During the design phase, best practices from other states were studied and solutions were designed to specifically address identified problems within Himachal’s unique culture and context.

  • The programme is currently in the implementation phase with multiple initiatives on the ground. 

I. OMR Based Review & Monitoring

There is a need for systematic and regular data-based review meetings in the state at both state and district levels. To improve the quality of review and monitoring, a detailed OMR-based quality monitoring tool, which is easily digitisable and analysable, has been prepared and distributed to various block officials. The state has mandated block officials (initially BRCCs, and then BEEOs) to visit schools in their blocks and inspect schools on various key parameters like CCE performance, basic infrastructure, classroom teaching and school management. The resulting data from these inspections is collated, analysed and then discussed at district and state levels to come up with solutions which can improve the performance of schools on each of these parameters. Benefits of this intervention include:

  • A single OMR-based quality monitoring tool integrating multiple forms 
  • Regular school visits and inspections by state officials to identify problems / best practices, basis data, and to take timely action, if required
  • Easy digitisation of detailed school-wise data
  • Monthly review meetings at district and state levels basis data
  • Increased accountability and culture of data-backed decision making within the government
  • Reduced burden on state functionaries by replacing multiple review forms with one comprehensive quality monitoring tool

II. TextBook Tracking

There have been delays ranging from 2 to 137 days in delivering textbooks to children, with an average delay of approx. 2 months in Himachal Pradesh. There were multiple factors for this delay including, late/staggered availability of books at depots (which meant that the same officials had to make multiple trips), late notification of demand to the printer for number of books required, no clear packaging of books which resulted in massive amounts of time being spent in counting books, and even delays in collection of books from block offices by cluster and associated schools. However, to ensure timely delivery, the education department as a whole along with HPBOSE has systematised the supply chain process to deliver books to schools. Moreover, the department is using technological solutions to bring speed, efficiency, transparency and real-time visibility in the system. Benefits of this intervention include: 

  • On time / before time delivery of books to all schools 
  • Online collection of blockwise demand for textbooks to make the demand collection process smoother and faster
  • Dedicated tele-helpline for textbook delivery to address queries from field officials
  • Online dashboard for real-time monitoring of the delivery status of each consignment of books
  • New supply chain to streamline delivery process to schools from printer to cluster school
  • Funds, basis submitted cost estimates, to hire a truck/vehicle to deliver books from block offices to cluster schools
  • Online route-chart to help blocks identify the most optimum route to distribute books to cluster schools
  • Recognition to best performing district and block officials

III. e-SMS Portal

To streamline communication with the Education System, the Education Department, Government of Himachal Pradesh, is using an e-sms portal to send SMSes to various stakeholders in the education system.  While circulars and notices often take some time to reach the ground, SMSes can be delivered instantaneously to multiple recipients. As a powerful supplement to official communication because of its reach and speed of delivery, SMS is an indispensable medium. The Education department is using the SMS portal built by C-DAC for the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, GoI to send one-way communication to all its stakeholders. These recipients include teachers, block officers, district officers, MDM-in-charges, and even some private schools. Key features and benefits of this intervention include:

  • No/low-cost, easy-to-use official communication channel to reach stakeholders instantaneously even in the most remote locations
  • Separate log-ins for state, district and block officials to send SMSes within their administrative jurisdictions
  • Deliver information regarding various initatives/notices/requiremments/news etc. with minimal chances of delay/failure
  • Dashboard for tracking and monitoring use of portal

IV. Continuous Learning Tips for Teachers Via SMSes

One of the unique applications of the e-SMS portal described elsewhere is sending teaching and learning tips directly to teachers via SMSes. Although the state often organises teacher-training sessions, much of the training does not translate into practice on the ground. SMS-based tips are an excellent medium to encourage the implementation of new paedagogies, methods or best teaching practices, as they can be delivered directly on a teacher’s mobile phone as per a pre-defined SMS plan. After a pilot of the initiative was executed on the ground, an IVRS-based poll revealed that 85% of recipients responded that they actually used the tips they received via SMS in the classroom. Moreover, 4/5th of all respondents said they wished to continue receiving such tips. Key features and benefits of this initiative include: 

  • Separate logins for Teacher Training Instructors (TTIs) in each of 12 districts.
  • Sets of continuous learning tips created by expert content developers
  • Periodic tips to participants of each training to ensure better field-to-forum results
  • Actionable and continuous tips will promote teachers to use best practices in classes
  • Better compliance of training at cluster and block levels
Sample CCE message: Share the Student-Portfolio and class work-homework and various assignments done by all the students with parents. This would motivate students to do better.


V. OMR-Based Recording of Studentl-Level Assesment Data

Presently, the state conducts a laborious and time-consuming exercise to digitise student level assessment data, where data entry operators manually feed in the results of examinations into an excel sheet. This process takes months to complete and is also prone to data entry error. To bring more speed and efficiency into the process, the department has introduced OMR-based assessment recording forms to easily digitise and thereafter analyse student-level assessment data. Key features and benefits of this initiative include: 

  • Record and easily digitise student-level endline assessment data under CCE and other programmes (e.g. PRERNA)
  • Collate, and analyse student-level data within and across programmes
  • Track progress of students at individual & aggregate levels
  • Faster collection and analyses of data at individual student and aggregate levels, which will also enable timely course correction, if required
  • HP to pioneer digitisation of student-level data across major learning programmes

VI. Online Transfers of Teachers via an Up-to-date PMIS

The NIC Manav Sampada portal was redesigned to increase its ease-of-use to and incorporate additional functionalities to address the specific requirements of the Directorate of Elementary Education. Once service records (including complete service books) are updated for all cadres of teachers, the PMIS will be a single-window platform for processing all service-related activities (transfer, joining, relieving etc.) and accessing real-time teacher and employee information. Teachers who are transferred will receive an auto e-SMS notification, and details of the transfer will simultaneously be published on the Manav Sampada portal. Key features and benefits of this initiative include: 

  • Instant online access across state, district, block and school level to view posting information of employees
  • Online posting of transfer/ promotion/ appointment orders for employees to view instantly
  • Automation of employee services e.g. APR submission, application for pension and reimbursement etc.

VII. e-Samadhan

eSamadhan is a portal for monitoring citizen grievances and demands. The Education Department has recently made efforts to revive this portal which has been lying defunct for the past few years. Nodal Officers for eSamadhan have been created at all levels - State Directorate, District Directorate and DIET Offices. Clear instructions for resolving grievances/demands regularly and for answering past/pending complaints have been communicated to nodal officers with defined timelines. The State Nodal Officer maintains a dashboard to monitor the progress of grievance redressal and take corrective action in case of delays. Key features and benefits of this initiative include: 

  • Up-to-date dashboard monitoring of grievance redressals
  • Grievance resolution to citizens of Himachal Pradesh 
  • Greater transparency in governance

VIII. Khaas Shiksha:Recognition for best Teaching & Teaching Related Practices

In addition to the existing system of annual awards at the state and district level, the state is instituting a continuous system of recognition, called Khaas Shiksha, to celebrate its Teachers, Head Teachers (HT’s), Head Masters (HM’s), Principals etc. who have undertaken initiatives of their own accord to make their students learn better. These nominations will be made by the BRCCs/BEEOs of the block.Key features and benefits of this initiative include: 

  • Boost morale of high-performing employees who deliver results (as seen by LLOs)
  • Encourage innovation and independent initiative by employees (at all levels) to improve quality of education for children
  • Realign long term focus on output (LLOs) but also recognize input efforts through continuous recognition

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