Improving K-12 education in India, the Shibulal way
SD Shibulal, Founder & Director, ShikshaLokam recently spoke to Hindustan Times about ShikshaLokam, its journey so far, its impact and what they are aspiring to achieve in the near future.
After taking various initiatives and launching a number of programmes for the betterment of education in India under the aegis of ‘The Shibulal Family Philanthropic Initiative’ since 1999, Infosys co-founder Sarojini Damodaran Shibulal (SD Shibulal) realised that the task was enormous and required systemic change. Leaders were required, who could drive the change. But this could not be done by training some leaders or creating a leadership training institute as the scale of the problem was very high. Even if K-12 education is taken into account, which is at the heart of Shibulal’s education initiatives at present, the task is daunting in a country like India, where the government school system is really huge with around 1.5 million schools, around 4.5 million leaders and about 250 million children. On the top of it the learning outcome of majority of children in the government schools was far from satisfactory.
Against this background, ShikshaLokam, a digital Education Leadership Platform led by SD Shibulal, was created in 2017.
SD Shibulal, Founder & Director, ShikshaLokam recently spoke to Hindustan Times about ShikshaLokam, its journey so far, its impact and what they are aspiring to achieve in the near future. Here are the edited excerpts:
SD Shibulal: ShikshaLokam is a societal platform aimed at bringing systemic change in India’s K-12 education system mainly through leadership development. It is open and completely free.
It is a three layered structure, with digital infrastructure at its core.
The second layer is the collaboration, co-creation and localization layer having various actors in the educational ecosystem, like leaders and teaching leaders, concerned government officials, people involved in the capacity building in the school system and social entrepreneurs working towards school transformation.
The third layer is our amplification network and constitutes mostly of our partners or people who work with us and collaborate and co-create on the platform. The amplification network is essential as we cannot be present everywhere and local people have better understanding of the ground situation.
ShikshaLokam provides open source technological capabilities and learning resources to those on the platform and offers an opportunity to collaborate, co-create and find solutions for transforming India’s K-12 education through systemic change.
One of the major benefits of collaboration and co-creation is that it saves a lot of time as once an idea is invented at one place, while you may need to localize and contextualize, you don’t need to reinvent. Secondly, as the platform is completely open, what happens in one part of the country can be seen in all other parts.
ShikshaLokam: Journey so far
SD Shibulal: The growth of ShikshaLokam was slow in first two years but last twelve months have been good for us. Today we have around 3.2 lakh users, we clock about 400-700 transactions per second, there are about 1,000 observations made on the platform everyday and we indirectly touch about 15 million school going children every day, which is about 5% of the school going population of the country. There has been very good progress in our reach and impact, especially in the last one month.
Impact of ShikshaLokam: Some examples
Creation of school development index in Delhi schools
SD Shibulal: ShikshaLokam helped the Delhi government in assessing 5,000 government schools on various parameters. A dashboard called the school development index was created on basis of this assessment, which was done on our app Samiksha. One of the parameters for assessment was school safety and security, which led to the creation of school safety councils. The council consists of school leaders, community leaders and some students. The activities of the council are tracked on our platform. Delhi government aspires to eventually publish this school development index, so that parents can take informed decision. Thus a parent can find best school in their area on various parameters like safety and security, teacher learning practices etc. once it is published.
The creation of the index shows clear impact of ShikshaLokam because it drove the decision of creating school safety committee which will touch 5,000 schools in Delhi and every child in these schools.
Increasing enrolment ratio in Punjab schools:
SD Shibulal: Punjab wanted to increase enrolment ratio in their schools and they figured out that increasing parent-teacher interaction could be of help in achieving this end. A parent-teacher interaction programme was rolled out with the help of ShikshaLokam’s knowledge platform ‘Bodh’ which helped in capacity building for interaction of 25,000 teachers with 5 lakh parents. It was later found out that enrolment went up by 5% in the current academic year in the state.
Continuous improvement of schools in Goa:
SD Shibulal: Goa wants continuous improvement of its schools and for this they have created their own framework. However, they are taking help of our platform for assessment and tracking the improvement.
English Teaching in Andhra:
SD Shibulal: In Andhra, one lakh eighty thousand people were onboarded on our platform for capacity building for English teaching.
Similarly, a number of other states are using the ShikshaLokam platform according to their priority, but with high impact. We work with states and adopt their priority. We enable them to drive their priority about leadership development and school transformation using our platform.
SD Shibulal: ShikshaLokam is currently present in 18 states, and fully present in four states and our aspiration is to scale it further. We are hoping to reach full implementation in 10 states in the next 12-24 months. We are also expecting that the numbers of micro-observations we are seeing everyday, which is around 1,000 today, will scale up to 5,000. So it is expected that impact of the platform will be much higher in the next 24 months.