In a relentless effort to monitor and propel the programmes, Akshara’s resource group and field teams are checking on progress and learning achievements and also capturing experiences from Hoskote, Devanahalli, Kushtagi and Mundargi Blocks. In Kushtagi, where stumbling blocks have been more in evidence. Delays in training have impeded the programmes in this Block, and yet, there are outstanding examples of teachers striving ahead, regardless.
- There is a method to monitoring. Schools where the programmes are running are classified as ‘A’, ‘B’ and ‘C’. It is an internal Akshara ranking that helps distinguish between quality schools and poorly performing ones.
- ‘A’ grade schools usually have bright children fighting competitively to answer questions the visiting Akshara teams ask them. They are smart, not to be outwitted by what they do not know, quickly clearing doubts and carrying on.
- In ‘B’ and ‘C’ schools there is markedly less enthusiasm. In the former, children have seen the Akshara teaching-learning material and know how to use it, but need practice before they can become competent. In ‘C’ grade schools children have seen the TLM, but are not aware how to operate it. The method eludes them.
It is difficult for visiting teams to ask teachers directly if they are following the programme methodologies. It would seem like an affront, a doubt cast on credibility. Akshara teams take up the TLM with the children instead and estimate what they have been taught, and how.
The CRP, An Active Promoter
The resource group from Bangalore visited 13 schools in Kushtagi Block. The 3 Urdu medium schools among them were non-starters – the programmes have not moved. The excuse was that training was delayed. But the 10 Kannada medium schools of ‘A’, ‘B’ and ‘C’ grades were more invested in the programmes, teachers taking them forward despite the tardiness and, sometimes, the lack of training.
The Cluster Resource Person (CRP) of the Hiregonnagara cluster is an active promoter of the programmes. At the Samalochana Sabhe Saranabasiah Kolli organises every month for the teachers under his watch, he tells them that the English and Mathematics programmes are good, that they will not experience any difficulty if they follow the Akshara TLM. It will be so easy, he tells them.
An Inspired English Teacher
At the Government Kannada Higher Primary School (GKHPS), Habalakatti, the resource group was in for some big experiences. It has 298 children and classes from Std. I to VIII. SaranabasiahKolli was there telling the team that he was getting a definite sense of the programmes benefitting children. Mainly because of an inspired Std. IV English teacher who is a Master Resource Person chosen by the Department of Education for his proficiency, and trained by Akshara.
The children engaged the resource group in conversation by asking them their names. They could identify the parts of the body and point to their functions and rattled off fluently the names of twenty six vegetables, all in English. They even made sentences with them. The results are obvious, the resource group says. The children are gaining a foothold in English.
A Motivated Mathematics Teacher
The resource group came across another inspired teacher at the school – Rajani of Std. IV. She has not received training in Mathematics. The team could not ascertain why and conjecture that perhaps it is because the school feels there is a lead teacher in Santosh, or it is because Rajani was needed as caretaker teacher when the others went for their training. Her attitude, however, was immensely positive. She was not unhappy about it. Akshara’s Mathematics Teacher’s Manual and the TLM are her daily guide in class and SaranabasiahKolli is always motivating her to follow it. Even if no big impact can be seen, the resource group is full of appreciation for her ongoing efforts.
The Resource Group’s Observations
The team’s conclusion is: Though some of the training in Kushtagi Block took place only in December 2012 and January 2013 due to factors beyond Akshara’s control, teachers who are interested and motivated have made significant progress in the relatively short period of a month or two. The syllabus is being covered by linking the TLM to what is being taught. Solutions are being found through the TLM for doubts that arise from textbooks. This breed of teachers says that the programme-prescribed group work is an effective strategy and that children do their work on their own even if they happen to be absent.