The hills resonate with pristine voice of young children as you approach Mundaghat, a sleepy hamlet in Mashobra Block in District Shimla of Himachal Pradesh. Government Cluster Primary School Mundaghat is a true learning ground for young minds who criss cross the valley daily and make to the school on time. The school which is a part of PRERNA (Program for Result Enhancement, Resource Nurturing and Assessment) has been awarded as the best school under this intervention in Mashobra Block of District Shimla.
Similar to Mundaghat School, one school for each of the 7 focus blocks was judged as the best performing school under PRERNA.
The PRERNA Program was launched by the then Deputy Commissioner Mr. Rohan Chand Thakur of Hamirpur in 2015. The same program has now also been included as a component of PEHAL, a District Administration Shimla initiative under the same leadership. The program is being implemented in collaboration with the Department of Elementary Education, DIET Shimla and Pratham Education Foundation.
Keeping in view the enthusiastic results in District Hamirpur, the program has also been scaled to the entire state this year. The current scenario of primary education in Himachal Pradesh leaves a lot of scope for learning. Basic learning levels of children are on the lower side. PRERNA which was initially conceived with the thought that basic literacy and numeracy goals of children would be achieved in a specific time frame of 45 days envisages this through capacity building of teachers, assessing children, conducting combined activities for maximized learning, colorful material , regular on site support under the leadership of district administration.
An Inspiration for others to emulate
Government Cluster Primary School Mundaghat was one of the chosen schools for PRERNA under PEHAL in Mashobra Block. Standard 4th and 5th students were a part of Phase 1 of the program which culminated recently.
Multiple factors led to Mundaghat School to be rewarded as the best school under this campaign in Mashobra Education Block. The dedicated efforts of the teachers and the zeal of students to learn and explore were some of the key factors that contributed toward making this school an example for others to follow. The Block Education Officer, Mr. Pyare Lal Sharma also played a vital role in guiding the teachers here. Block Resource Centre Coordinator Mr. Lokender Negi also visited schools on a regular basis including visits to Mundaghat School. His contribution in making the program a success was also vital.
The school has been the pivot in the education sector since its establishment in the year 1952. Many prominent people of the area completed their early education from this school.
The Centre Head Teacher of Mundaghat School Mrs. Sulochana Sharma played a leading role in making the program successful in her school. She guided the teachers and ensured that students achieved the learning levels of PRERNA in her school. Her contribution played a vital role in enabling the school to achieve the first position in Mashobra Block.
The teacher incharge of the PRERNA program Mrs. Seema Sood also took keen interest in making the same a success. PRERNA usually runs from 10:30 am to 12:30 pm in the afternoon in the designated schools. However in Mundaghat School rarely a day passed away when the day’s schedule ended at the designated time. The teacher did it past 1:00 pm too, occasionally taking some time out from the lunch break too.
The understanding and comprehension level of students improved here substantially due to PRERNA and they were able to conceptualize their syllabus in less time.
There is a need to encourage teachers to perform well and appreciate the fact that every child can learn provided that the child has been given adequate opportunities to learn. This fact was amply displayed in Mundaghat School which too led it to become best school under this intervention.
Considerable improvement in Language understanding
It is a constant concern of teachers that the syllabus gets suffered as a result of such interventions. The learning from Mundaghat School can be a guiding experience for other schools and teachers. The content of the intervention seemed different from text book but since it strengthened the competencies as reflected in the same, the teacher here was able to link both of these comfortably.
The students were able to grasp the basics of Hindi grammar through PRERNA. In addition, the students read stories in class and home alike. Worksheets were also given and were discussed thoroughly.
It was indeed heartening to see young confident readers reciting different kind of text. The children attributed their success to the colorful material and creative composition of stories which they got in PRERNA.
The teacher here also conducted distinct kind of activities which too incited the interest of the teacher and reduced the gap among children and teacher.
Playing with numbers made easy
Math which otherwise is a scary assumption for many students was a favorite of many, post their experience in PRERNA. Group learning too seemed to be an inspiring factor here as children were grouped learning level wise and not grade specific learners.
Mrs. Seema Sood pointed that since both the intervention classes had the same worksheets and the sums were comparatively simple as compared to their syllabus so these students learnt in a better manner.
Students in particular had a lot of problem in solving fraction sums in this school earlier. The teacher pointed that since fraction problems were appropriately pictorially depicted in the worksheets, it helped her a lot in clearing this concept of students.
Group appropriate learning proved to be a boon here since these sums were done with both intervention classes together. This saved a lot of time of teacher too and children benefited immensely from learning together.
Mrs. Seema Sood hinted that it was only due to level appropriate group learning component of PRERNA that she was able to clear the concept of Fractions among Standard 4 and 5 students. The children were also able to solve problem sums in a better way, post the Phase 1 of PRERNA since the text book has limited number of these sums and conceptual clarity developed only due to this intervention.
The few hours spent in Mundaghat School made me realize that if teachers provide inspirational guidance to children and if the system too encourages such efforts as made in PRERNA, a positive change is sure in the making!