Central Square Foundation, a non-profit organization, is transforming the school education system in India by improving learning outcomes for all children as per the guidelines of NIPUN Bharat Mission.

This article is in partnership with the Central Square Foundation.

“I like to color, connect the dots in my workbook, and learn to count using marbles. Mathematics is my favorite subject,” says Darpan Malaviya, a Grade 1 primary school student in Kodia Chetto village in Sihor district in Madhya Pradesh state.

Darpan Malaviya, a student of class 1 of primary school in Kodiya Chhitu village in Sehore district of Madhya Pradesh.
Darpan Malaviya shared that he did not remember anything he had studied before submitting the workbook; Image courtesy: Central Square Foundation

Durban School is one of the many primary schools in India where there has been an enthusiastic commotion in the public education system. The Central Square Foundation (CSF) empowers children with basic literacy and numeracy skills while ensuring correct delivery of the curriculum – as per the guidelines of the NIPUN Bharat Mission and the State Boards of Education framework.

Established in the year 2012, the Central Square Foundation is a non-profit organisation, working to transform the Indian school education system by improving learning outcomes for all children, primarily from low-income communities.

CSF’s work is primarily focused on four areas of impact – Foundational Literacy and Numeracy (FLN), EdTech, Affordable Private Schools, and Early Childhood Education.

Vandana Dubey is a first-class teacher from the Government Primary School in Siwapuri district in Uttar Pradesh.
Vandana Dubey, A class teacher, activist Shikshamitra in the Department of Corrections; Image courtesy: Central Square Foundation

“We are currently operating in about 12 states across India, and in most states we have other education partner NGOs such as Room To Read (RTR) and Language and Learning Foundation (LLF), who are developing programs designed to support both children and teachers,” says Anustop Nayak, project manager at CSF, in conversation with him India’s best.

He says they are working with their technical education partners to improve the design quality of their programs. “We look at global best practices and consider good examples provided by ourselves to see if teachers can use these programs better. So, we look at the material using these lenses and see if it is simple and easy to understand. We are mainly working on improving the user interface For programs for teachers and students.”

Regarding the implementation of these programs, he says, “Most programs are well designed, but they struggle in the implementation phase. So, we go on the floor, sit inside the classroom, observe teacher training programmes, understand what works in the implementation phase and what needs improvement. Then we provide feedback. To improve program design.

Anustup shares what their team looks like as a thought partner to their technology partners. “We also sit down with them when we jointly advocate for any academic strategy of the government.”

Dr. Dineshchand is the Academic Officer at Sewapuri
Dr. Dineshchand is the Academic Officer at Sewapuri. Image courtesy: Central Square Foundation

Teachers form the backbone of the educational system

To achieve its vision of ensuring quality school education for all children in India, CSF works closely with teachers to ensure that they are well-equipped with the right technologies, the right tools and the right training.

“When teaching children the basics of language acquisition or mathematics, there are some scientifically proven techniques. For example, if you want to teach children numbers, it is best to start with hands-on models. In our programs, children actually touch physical objects to understand what each number is before Teach them the corresponding abstract symbols. If these methods are used in the classroom, children learn and retain them better.”

In most traditional classrooms, teachers have the same textbooks as the children. But in CSF programs, teachers have access to a wealth of other useful tools.

“Our primary tool is the teacher’s guide. It contains step-by-step lesson plans that help teachers impart these techniques to students within the school timeline. Even children are provided with better designed workbooks and language learning supplements,” Anustup shares.

Daksha Malvi is a second class student.
Daksha Malvi dropped out of a private school where she did not understand the school curriculum; Now you enjoy studying with workbook; Image courtesy: Central Square Foundation

He also points out that, often, teacher training has been largely a one-way transfer of content to teachers, which is not very practical. Teachers go through many training programs, but they don’t come back with practical methods that they can actually implement in the classroom.

“What we design has demonstrations as a large part of it. Coaches actually demonstrate these new ways of teaching to teachers, so they can try them out,” he notes.

Anustup says teachers also receive ongoing training. Cluster and group experts visit the school once or twice a month. They observe the teachers in the classroom, give them feedback, hold more experimental classes, and also evaluate some of the children. In this way, continuous input is given to the teacher rather than a one-off training workshop that occurs once or twice a year.

Sunita Singh is a Year 3 Assistant Teacher at the Government Primary School in Sewapuri District, Uttar Pradesh.
Sunita Singh, who teaches Class 3, finds the teacher’s guide to be very useful to help the students; Image courtesy: Central Square Foundation

Sunita Singh, a third-grade assistant teacher at the Government Primary School in Siwapuri District, Uttar Pradesh, says, “I used to teach children in the past. I have gone through a lot of struggles in my life. But I worked hard and was selected as a teacher in this school on September 6, 2018. “In the beginning, I used to teach the children in the traditional ways. While some absorbed the syllabus, some were left unlearned. But now, I have reference material in the form of a teacher’s guide. It is very useful to assess what the students have understood. This helps me to collaborate with them and provide assistance as needed.” .

Vandana Dubey, a class 1 teacher from the same school says, “I am very fond of children and have worked hard to prepare them for the future with passion and honesty. Before, I was able to teach them basics of language and math concepts, but many of them could not understand it despite my efforts. But Teacher’s guide solved my problem.Now,I am able to teach students with more confidence and help them learn concepts well.Today,I am known as an activist Shikshamitra in the Department of Corrections, and that’s a source of pride for me.”

Through impact stories like these and the dedicated efforts of CSF, education partner NGOs, teachers and students, the program can help the entire education system move toward a brighter future.

Edited by Divya Sethu


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