Report card on CCE: Needs improvement

The Karnataka Secondary Education and Examination Board has adopted a new system of evaluating the learning curve of a child, starting this year. With positive and negative feedback pouring in from all corners, Merlin Francis takes a closer look at this model.


The record pass percentage of 81.82 in the SSLC exam this year is largely credited to the Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation model. The CCE, as it is better known, was adopted by the Karnataka Secondary Education and Examination Board this year. But how has it fared? Not everyone gives it a thumbs-up. Experts hail it as a great idea whose implementation is the niggling issue.

Maya Menon, educationist, says, “The idea of CCE is excellent and was supposed to keep track of whether the child is learning. Formative assessment is important. However the way in which the DPI (Department of Public Instruction) implemented it this year leaves much to be desired.”

For instance, most teachers are not trained how to assess the child, she says. “Without being trained in the essence and spirit of CCE, we do not know if the improved pass percentage reflects actual learning at all. When done in an objective way, CCE keeps track of the child’s learning and takes action when improvement is required. However, fudging marks or simply giving high marks to the students does not indicate learning at all and is not beneficial to the child’s learning in the long run,” she said.

Niranjan Aradhya, Fellow for Child and Law, feels teachers need to be sensitized on CCE. “Teachers are used to the final examination model and focus on that. But this is an evaluation model and not examination. Evaluation is when you assess something, find out where the problem is and improve on it,” he said, adding this is when classroom transaction also improves and the child is not victimized for failure.

Anantha Narayana BC, principal of Good Shepherd School, says internal assessments are often misused. “No specific parameters are used while gauging these 20 marks and teachers are partial towards many students. They give full marks without thinking much. Children on the other hand are not very co-operative when these assessments are conducted.”

The teachers cannot be blamed entirely, he says. “There are so many students to assess and they end up throwing marks due to lack of time,” he says. “To a certain extent, it is unfair. Students sometimes get the marks they don’t deserve.” He claims this has lead to an overall improvement in performance this time as gaining 20 marks is comparatively simple.

MA Khan, principal of KK English School, believes achievement of children has drastically come down this year though the pass percentage has increased. “The DPI was not clear with most things. We got to know about the internal assessment in September when most children were focusing on their project,” he said.
However, CCE is beneficial in that hidden talents of students are unleashed, like public speaking and drawing, he says.

Mohammad Mohsin, Commissioner, department of public instruction, says schools could not randomly give marks to students and had to maintain a record of how the child fared and where he or she had improved. “Regular, surprise and random inspections were done by our committee who even gave suggestions to the schools,” he says. The process will continue this year and complaints and suggestions are welcome, he says.

(With inputs from Alisha Deshmukh and Varuna Jeethender)

What is CCE:

Continuous and Comprehensive Evaluation model was introduced first by the CBSE. It looks at a two-pronged way of assessing children: formative and summative. Formative tests comprise the student’s work at class and home, the student’s performance in oral tests and quizzes and the quality of the projects or assignments submitted by the child. Summative tests are the regular three-hour long exams conducted by the school and board. Twenty per cent of marks will be based on internal assessment, which will be the average of formative assessment done at four different levels, and 80% on board exams.

And the winners of our #MathinIndia Meme Contest are:

A couple of months ago, we highlighted the situation of #MathinIndia with some Bollywood-inspired memes.

Little did we expect what came next.

We were bombarded by spontaneous responses from many people, each giving us their own take of our posters or with a meme of their own.

Naturally, this inspired us to open it out as a CONTEST for one and all.


It goes without saying that we were flooded by many interesting memes. Which was the cause of a big problem – choosing the best.

After a lot of debates over many a coffee, we have our winners!

We finally used not three or five, but SEVEN of the most interesting entries we received for our next set of posters! 🙂




hawa hawai












We will touch base with each of you separately.

A big thank you to all those who participated. You not only made our cause huge, but also made it fun and exciting.

IF YOU missed out on making it to the top seven, fret not.

WE WOULD LOVE TO POSTERIZE YOUR MEME as a special gesture, for your personal use. All in the name of Math. Just reach out to us at

Continue spreading the word about our #MathinIndia Campaign. May the power of Math be far greater than the fear of it.


Pic credits: All images have been sourced from public online sources (,,, solely for non-commercial and social good purpose. 


Dear Akshara Supporter,

15 years! Yes, we at Akshara Foundation just celebrated our 15th anniversary and so far it has been an incredible journey. What began as a small effort in the year 2000 by two people, gathered momentum over the years and has now fully accelerated into a movement, with 112 employees to ensure every child in school and learning well.

Through the ups and downs (and there have been enough of both) and over the years we have been able to impact the lives of over 10,00,000 children in government primary schools in the state of Karnataka with our library, Math and English programmes.

In doing so your support and collective belief that Akshara Foundation could and would reach new milestones has been a beacon of hope and a challenge we constantly strive to pursue with relentless zeal.

We are proud to have adhered to our core values and uncompromising resolve towards the cause. Winning the Namma Bengaluru Award further tells us that we now have a greater responsibility to change and shape the lives of many more children. We assure that in the days to come we will deliver more on this promise.

Thank you for being with us all these years. We absolutely could not have come this far without you nor can we take this extraordinary journey ahead without your help. Keep holding us to high standards as we continue our journey with real generosity of spirit, cause and action.


Ashok Kamath                                                               Kanchan Bannerjee

Chairman                                                                         Managing Trustee


Did you know that only 25.3% of children in Std III can do two digit subtraction or that the percentage of children in Std II who still cannot recognize numbers up to 9 has increased over time, from 11.3% in 2009 to 19.5% in 2014.

The numbers revealed by Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2014, released in January, this year, clearly state that Math learning levels in the country continue to be a serious and major source of concern.

Well, this was big news that went nearly unnoticed. To draw attention to this and remove the bite out of Math, we have meme-fied the big news and piggy backed on the cultural phenomena that is Bollywood.

We have couched the common fears surrounding Math with catchy dialogues by much loved Bollywood characters hoping to engage a wider and bigger audience into the conversation around the education of our children.

So let’s take stock, break/kick the shibboleths surrounding Math and build up  #MathinIndia.
One Bollywood-inspired meme at a time. Enjoy!

math1 math2 math3

A big shout out to one and all to tweet it, post it, plus it, pin it and share it. Help us spread the word. As Carol Bellamy, former global executive director of Unicef said, “Education is far too important to be left only to educationists”.


Disclaimer: All images have been sourced from public online sources solely for non-commercial and social good purpose. 

At these anganwadis, mothers are in-charge.

As part of the Malur, Dharwad and Bengaluru ICDS project spearheaded by our pre-school team, as many as 251 women now have a new role – that of Wellness Moms. In this role, these women as mothers, raise community involvement and conduct authentic assessment that captures the learning and growing process and social and emotional well being of pre-schoolers in anganwadis, as it happens.
We at Akshara Foundation have put them – the mothers, at the helm of assessing their child’s development and also rally for more community involvement in monitoring and assessing the working of anganwadis. To do this more effectively, our preschool resource team has equipped the mothers with a 62- indicator development tool. 
A comprehensive tool – the 62 indicators span from general awareness, cognitive development, language, fine motor to social, creative and emotional domains.
A series of trainings and workshops and tiding over resistence by the anganwadi teachers, these mothers are already out visiting various anganwadis to determine the wellness of their children and if the anganwadis are performing satisfactorily. 
To a great extent they have been able to accomplish the stated intent.  The mothers are now being accompanied and assisted by young girls and SHG members, clearly indicating that more members from the community are getting involved. Not only do they feel that this idea makes a ton of sense but is also being executed and delivered in a way that’s both compelling and result oriented.
The highly motivated mothers are making full use of our teaching and learning material (TLM) for assessment and are warming up to the idea of adopting such accountability measures based on the scores gathered from the 62 –indicator development tool.
An initiative worth pursuing, though not simple – is what most mothers feel are and they want to show what such support interventions that ensure accountability and improvement mean to them and their children in anganwadis.
Cheers to the mommy power/wellness mommy!
Download the 62-indicator development tool here
– Authored by writer@educationjams


A visit to the GLPS school in Vardapura and I was happy that I did not turn my back on Government schools. At a time when most of us have succumbed to the onslaught of private school education with little or no resistance citing various reasons, this school makes a case in point.

Almost a year ago over 30 students, left GLPS to join its better placed counterpart – an English medium private school. To the parents of these kids the new school seemed well poised to deliver. After all, the government school had failed them and their children on many counts, is what they felt. A 25 percent reservation in private schools as per the RTE act, it seems only strengthened their belief further.

However, within few months of joining the private school, there seemed to be a trend reversal. The same parents wanted to enrol their kids back at the government school. In the days to follow, over 30 children who had joined the private school, were back at GLPS.

This piqued my curiosity and like how a typical human mind works in cases like this, there were more questions and doubts rather than belief and answers. Does this mean that government schools work and that the teachers are doing their job or is it the low fee structure, free food that has lured the parents in bringing their kids back to government school. Many such questions clouded my mind and a visit to the school and finding out for myself seemed to be the most right and logical thing to do.

The time spent at GLPS, speaking to teachers, parents and children reinforced my faith in the public/government school system. Quality of teaching – is what brought these kids back to GLPS, a common sentiment shared by the kids, parents and the teachers too. I decided to experience that myself apart from speaking to various stakeholders.
It did not take me long to figure that out. There was clear evidence of strong pedagogic knowledge and effective use of teaching and learning material to aid activity based learning – all of it tied together by the strong leadership of the school Head Master.
The teachers held sound understanding of the theory behind pedagogic practice. Use of TLM in the form of a Math Kit provided by Akshara Foundation enabled joyful learning. They loved the little extra help in the form of this well designed and scientific Math kit that helped them better explain Math concepts to children. 

These kids loved to create their own groups (leading to effective peer learning) around the kit to come up with problems and solutions. All this facilitated by the class teacher who demonstrated great endurance to quality learning and openness unlearn and then learn the changing pedagogic practice irrespective of all challenges.

After spending many hours in the school I could say that despite the given constraints a Government School Does Work and that we should be honouring the government school teachers with a little extra help and the recognition that they deserve.

Someone rightly said – Education ought to be about lifting up, not weeding out. Government schools are for every child in the community. They are for providing every child a chance at an education. Cherry picking only the bright and brilliant is not the norm here. It’s therefore time that we as community render all support and initiative to make government schools the best they can be. 

The story of GLPS xxx may just be one of dozens of other inspiring stories coming from government school. We can know those only when we get involved as an individual, a group, a community and nation as whole. After all, any society is only as good as its education system.

N.B. In no way through the views expressed in the write-up, I intend to talk or influence anyone out of attending private school. But I do want to talk you out of believing that government schools don’t work. 


It wasn’t a regular Sunday for Shiva Kumar or for the nearly 40 children who crammed his shop – a little chai-cum-kirana shop in an unpretentious low-income area, Satyam Nagar in east Bangalore, home to a straitened community.

His rickety, almost tattered awning shop today has a big patch of color beside and a gathering of children. A small book library had found a place in his shop. The books hung from a long vertical blue cloth rack like a kangaroo pouch and in whose warm pockets live books.

These colourful, shiny bright books with their beautiful illustrations invited energetic young minds, aroused curiosity and promised to nurture it.

And the children came. Their faces carried expressions of wonder and amazement. All these books for them to read? What an extraordinary gift! They leafed through the pages, took in the pictures, the stories, the extravaganza before them.

Hardly sated, they now come every day to their neighbourhood mini library – they come back to Shiva Kumar’s tea shop and in doing so are being accompanied by adults too.

To focus on the literacy needs and find ways to build bridges between words and young and adult minds alike, we at Akshara Foundation launched Cutting Tea Tales on International Literacy Day.

We go local and tap the chai cum kirana shops with our cutting tea tales. Portions of these shops are converted into mini libraries which provide access to our carefully categorized books in English, Kannada, Urdu and Tamil.

On why we love and pick these small tea cum kirana shops and convert them into mini libraries – we feel that these places often serve as a meeting ground where people drive conversations. It is these places that we think are the starting points for shared aspirations for a community.

The community setting approach not only helps connect but also provides for a reading environment that is not intimidating. In doing this we also share the common belief of stepping forward, engaging and making people willing to join others in something that will require collective impact efforts.

We are not overtly worried if the books are stained, marked or falling apart with use, since there is no better death for a book than it having been read too much and by too many. Those present will have access to books in Kannada, English, Urdu and Tamil.

In days to follow Cutting Tea Tales will reach the rural blocks of Kushtagi and Mundargi. What’s more – Pratham Books ( a non-profit trust that publishes high quality books for children at affordable prices and in multiple Indian languages) is happy to join hands with us and will provide books for our libraries.

 As Roald Dahl said, the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. So, next time you if you spot one of these libraries, dive in, take the good parts, skip the bad , get what you can get out of it, go on to something else.

Until then…stay curious, stay booked.


They are school children for heaven’s sake…

How does one even express or articulate the horror of what happened at Peshawar. 
Taliban ‘kill over 130’ school children in Peshawar. 
Is it just about Pakistan as a failed state or have we failed as humans. 
Do we really need religion of this kind. 
Is this the way to make the other feel the pain? Difficult to wrap one’s head around it.
Even though this has happened in a neighboring country we do want to think about the kids 
who lost their lives, their parents and the burden of terrorism.
Like they say – of all of the tyrannies that affect mankind, tyranny of religion is the worst. 
And this time it has hit hard… 
Let us all take a few moments to remember those who lost their lives 
and keep their families in our prayers. 

SSLC: Data and Infographics

Cross posted from the KLP Blog.

Right after releasing the visualization of SSLC results of the past seven years, there were several questions about the data and what each of image tries to bring out of it. We thought it would make sense to iterate over the data and detail each of the infographic that we designed.

The data set contained information about SSLC results over the last seven academic years (2004-2005 to 2010-2011) for each educational district in Karnataka. This was separated for Government and Private schools, as well as by Gender. It also had subject aggregates and medium information. The result set has been processed to determine one of the two parameters below:

Pass percentage is a percent representation of the number of students who passed the SSLC exam in the given academic year over the total number of students who appeared for the exam in the same year across a district as visualized by a parameter such as Government schools vs. Non-government schools or Boys vs. Girls. 

Average mark or average passing mark in any particular subject (Math, English or Kannada) is the marks scored in the subject averaged over all the students who have passed in the subject in a given academic year across the district again as visualized by a parameter such as Government schools vs. Non-government schools or Boys vs. Girls or across different mediums of instruction. The entire infographic is based on these parameters. 

We decided to look at three aspects of the data for the beta release:
1. How are government and private schools performing in contrast to each other?
2. How are they performing in Mathematics, Kannada and English?
3. How does girls and boys perform in contrast to each other?

All three question were asked for every district over the seven academic years.

The map serves as the primary navigation to entire infographic. The data was carefully aggregated at the district level. A map of this sort is called a Choropleth. Each color is tied to a specific value as indicated by the legend. The map tries to show the performance of each district at a high level – with the lighter shade of blue being bad performance while the darker shade of blue depicts better performance.

The information box is on the right side of the map, shows the academic year, name of the district when it’s either hovered or clicked upon. The year selectors below the map will update the map colors with the respective data. Click on the play button to see how each district’s performance changes from year to year. Clicking on a district will let you explore the other visualizations.

The first bar chart shows the pass percentage of government and private schools over the past seven years. Private schools perform better than government schools in all the districts. We hope no one is surprised about this fact. One can hover over the bars to get the exact percentage value in the information box. Everything is interactive and automatically updated.

The set of three bar charts that you see in the next section shows the performance of government and private schools in Mathematics, Kannada and English respectively. This comparison is also based on the percentage of scores aggregated from child level data for government and private schools. Hover over the bars to see the exact percentage value. It’s not surprising to see that private schools perform better in every subject across the years in every district. The Government schools trail behind in most districts across the years.

The third aspect that we wanted to showcase was gender. How are boys and girls performing when compared to each other? The set of icons that you see in the third section shows this. Clicking on a district changes the colors. Green shows who’s doing better. In private schools, girls dominate all the way. There’s a mixed pattern in government schools. You can hover over the icons to see the exact pass percentage.

We hope to bring out aspects of medium and how that is influencing learning in different languages in the next iteration of the infographic. If you have specific questions about how this was built or want to see other aspects of data, leave a comment or drop us a line at