Himachal Pradesh is one of the states that has achieved near universal enrollment, built enough schools and has appointed ample teaching and academic support staff. Around 99.7 % students of age 6-14 are enrolled in the schools and need of the hour now is to work on the basic literacy these students. The state of children is not very encouraging when it comes to English comprehension.
The ASER report for 2014 for the state of Himachal Pradesh also hints at similar findings. Of all the students in class 4th who could read words 58.8% were able to tell meaning of all words. This percentage was 63.1, 69.3 and 52.8 % respectively for students of class 5th, 6th and 7th.
Keeping these aspects in mind a one month pilot camp was organized in one selected Government High School in Solan district of Himachal Pradesh. The school was located 10 km from the city limits and had enrollment from among local population and some migrant students too.
The following classes were chosen for the pilot camp:
Name of School: Government High School Bhoj Anji
|S.No||Standard||Number of Students|
The school management allotted 1 hour on daily basis for the pilot camp. Classes for standard 4th and 5th were held from 11:00 am to 12:00 am while classes for standard 6th and 7th were held from 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm.
The camp duration was for 30 working days and the same began on 11th July 2016 and ended on 27th August 2016. Baseline assessment was conducted on 4th July 2016 and the camp could begin by 11th because of some internal exams in the school. The school also had one week vacation from 26th July to 1st August and this too added to the duration of the camp.
Four people from Pratham team who are part of another one year pilot project in Solan district took these classes.
Aim of the pilot camp:
- What are students able to achieve in a span of 25 – 30 days
- What is the correlation between first and second languages’ acquisition by students
- What is the balance between the capacity of teachers and the level of difficulty of the Teaching Learning Material (TLM)
Prior to the beginning of the pilot camp, a baseline assessment of the students was conducted. Standard assessment tool was used for the same and children were divided into various learning levels based on the finding of the assessment.
In the initial days of the pilot camp equal attention was paid on all students with students of one level being focus group for the day. If the word level students were considered to be focus on any given day more attention was paid to the activities being done with them. The other students were made to do revision of the previous day’s work which they had done while being part of the focus group the previous day. This process was replicated in all the 4 classes which were part of the pilot project. The content was also same for all the classes and students were given level appropriate learning.
Based on the baseline assessment the following categorization of students was done and focus levels were agreed upon as follows:
More attention was paid to the focus level students and activities conducted with them were rigorously monitored. However, the students at other levels were also appropriately catered to and were given task on daily basis which enhanced their learning.
However, a unique aspect of the pilot camp was the fact that grade appropriate classification of students was done and students of one class were not mixed with higher grades.
The pilot camp had the following learning objectives which we tried to achieve through this intervention:
Beginner and Letter level:
Students at these levels should be able to:
- Recognize letters through shapes, names and write them.
- Read and comprehend at least 30 words from their immediate surroundings.
- Read and comprehend at least 40 words from their immediate surroundings.
- Read and understand easy sentences and narrative.
- Summarize text in their first language or bilingually.
- Respond to simple questions and common greetings.
We tried to keep in mind the above listed objectives while taking classes and ensured that students were able to meet these learning objectives.
Findings of the Pilot Camp:
Standard 4th: During baseline the students were spread across Alphabet, Word and Sentence. They progressed during the camp and by the end 5 of the total 10 students were able to rise up to the story level.
Standard 5th: The students were spread across alphabet (lowercase), word and sentence in Standard 5th during baseline. Their progress can be gauged from the fact that by end of the pilot camp majority of the students had risen to sentence and story level.
Standard 6th: Majority of students were at word and sentence level during baseline. Most of these rose up to story level by midline and this trend was observed during endline too.
Standard 7th: Similar trends were observed in standard 7th also where the number of students at sentence level rose from 21 at baseline to 33 at endline.
However, by the end of the camp 1 student each in standard 4th, 6th and 7th remained at lowercase alphabet. Much progress has been seen among story level students from midline to endline except for Standard 6th where the number of students at story level decreased by 2 by the time of endline.