School Improvemnet Through Public Private Partner Ship

The Nai basti school head teacher says-"I joined the school in 1999, the total number of students was 110 and it was essentially a primary school of poor repute, with a handful of students in the middle grades who had to study in battered, half sunken classrooms, four feet below the street level. What bothered me most was the passive inclination of this lower-middle-class backward community towards education.  I also remember my own attitude of arrogance towards parents and teachers, who had to respect their superiors, obey orders and fall in line!” These were the clear-cut words the head teacher shared with the researchers. After a short pause, she again went back to her past and dug out yet another tale of her early struggles.  “I vividly remember that mothers used to visit my school carrying a weeping and slobbering infant, followed by a trail of half naked children to get admission. They were ever ready to discuss, not their children’s future but their domestic and private issues. More than 70 percent of the children of the locality were rude, rash, indecent, and abusive with dirty bodies and messy hair.  I knew that I wanted to change this reality into something more ordered but did not quite know how to go about it.”
 A community member who had once been an active member of the School Management Committee (SMC) independently made a phone call to an organization who claimed to help schools improve if there were head teachers and local community members who wanted to engage with change. The organization responded, undertook a needs assessment of the school in 2001 and since then have been contributing to a series of improvement which can be attributed not to resources, but to the change in the attitudes of the people involved. Shamim Sultana, the head teacher, informed the researchers that she is a poet and composes poems on every Child Rights day. The first one she wrote in 2000 impressed the organization so much due to its raw depiction of the condition of the children, whose rights must be given, that to this day it is preserved and framed at the organization’s office. “I feel very honored,” the head teacher modestly says.     

How change occurred-the story of renaissance begins

The new head teacher, who took over Nai Basti in 1999, had previously been a student of this school in the early 60s. Her alma mater had witnessed a period of deteriorating relationships and progress. She recognized that the school needed to develop new ethos and for that to happen, she needed to change her own attitude. Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi (ITA) or Centre for Education and Consciousness is a catalytic organization, which facilitates change possibilities for schools. The school and its community soon realized that this was not an organization that would simply bring food on the table for the hungry but would help them to learn how to attain food themselves. The teachers recall that they worked by involving the students in expressing how they wanted their school to be through art; the teachers in expressing hopes and fears and the parents/community members were brought in to share what they thought was wrong with the school and what needed change most urgently.
 
After three months the process was completed, resulting in a school development plan which the school was to implement. A teachers’ /head teachers’ orientation was organized as was a special head teachers’ workshop on “Leading and Managing Change”.  The teachers not only remember the skepticism in the process, but also the imperceptible change that was taking over their own methods and that of the head teacher.

The first breakthrough came when additional teachers were hired on contract by ITA to make up for staff shortages. This was the greatest need and gave the school staff the resolve to move towards implementing the improvement program. Armed with new approaches, the school team and its School Council (SC) charted their own course for positive change. The head teacher provided the leadership for a collective effort, as a humanist and not as a superior.            

The very first step the head teacher took was to raise awareness in the community to realize the importance of education and school improvement. As she was well aware of the particular temperament and attitude of the community, she maneuvered her plan accordingly. Firstly, she adopted a very lenient, courteous, and social manner with the people of her area. Not only were parents encouraged to visit the school and discuss the problems of their children personally, but the students were also encouraged to give their opinions and voice their concerns. This became a major strategy to change the culture of the school. 

Parents were very appreciative of the school’s open-door approach toward them and they willingly took the responsibility for their child’s academic and personal life at the school. As one parent said: "We need to take responsibility for this as parents. We have to acknowledge that, yes, our children might be bullies. We can’t just say, ‘He’s not like this at home!’ We have to be involved with the school to find out how our children are doing.

nai basti school image

Head Teacher with her content staff

A Civil Society’s adoption of the School
               
In March, 2001, total enrollment in the pre-adoption profile was 276. Academic staff numbered four, including the Head Teacher. In February, 2004, the post-adoption profile reveals that enrollment increased to 441 with academic staff numbering sixteen, including the Head Teacher.  

nai basti school image

        Parents’ participation in School’s Activities

nai basti school image

     Kids performing in a Tableau Show

Cheerful Kids in a Tableau Show

The Head Teacher’s first step was to ensure that each student had easy access to her office. Soon students began to feel confident that the Principal knew him or her well.Students, teachers, and administrators all contributed to the school’s successes and to bring about a revolution in attitudes.
"For many years, it was believed that these children are not capable of going to college,” said Shafqat, the father of a student. Now, that mind-set is changed. According to Shamim Sultana, "The Teachers here have embraced the idea that all children can learn if given the opportunity."   
   
Every endeavor to reform, restructure or transform schools emphasizes professional development as the primary vehicle in efforts to bring about needed change. With the help of I.T.A.’s school based and cluster based trainings, teachers have now started taking an active part in teacher training workshops organized from time to time for their professional development. ITA has also been able to provide educational materials to the school which is making the best possible use of these learning materials. ITA not only provided competent staff but also materials for preparing teaching aids, ‘Taleemi Basta’, poem and story books, video cassettes, sports materials including handball, basket ball, carom board, rackets, badminton net, sets of shuttle cocks and other indoor games. The school was also encouraged to spend its own student fund money for all these items as counterpart funds which are fully endorsed by the Department of Education. 

Infrastructural development, a gigantic task This school has been a great challenge for ITA with respect to infrastructural development. The building of the school used to be 5 feet below the ground level and it was terrible for the children to sit in the classes. At the time of its adoption, ITA pledged to utilize all available resources to reconstruct the building. Therefore, ITA mobilized the government’s resources and pressured them to allocate Rs. 1.3 million for construction. The newly constructed part of the building had no electricity. ITA managed an interim arrangement, but with the generous support of the Pakistani Association of Greater Houston (PAGH), also mobilized by the intermediary organization, the supply of electricity and installation of ceiling fans and lights was completed well before the blazing heat of summer. This support from PAGH has gone a long way for Nai Basti High School. It made the community realize that so much can be done if there is a vision. They made efforts to pitch in for the repairs of the water pump and also purchased a second hand electric water cooler including a filter for cleaner water. 

The surge in student numbers as well as the expansion of classes from VIII to Matric under the self-financed Community Public Partnership (CPP) program also negotiated for the school by ITA, meant that the eight classrooms were not enough. The school needed to run on double shifts if it was to achieve quality. Two shifts were organized with the full participation of the community in decision making and thus, another landmark was achieved.
Today, Nai Basti School is a model school as a result of these innovations. Teams from other organizations visit it to see its enrichment program and leadership. The school now even serves as an institution for M.Ed internees from the Aga Khan University’s Institute of Education Development.     

Strong community involvement

It seems that the community was just waiting for a little push. Just a little encouragement worked as a stimulant and they continued to surprise everyone with their warm support and cooperation. On the first visit of the research team, the school was being whitewashed by the labor councilor, Aslam Bhai, the most dynamic personality of the community. In order to give a healthy and refreshing look, another community member, Munna Bhai, planted trees in the school.
The union council of Nai Basti is now being mobilized to address issues pertaining to the school. The outcome of ITA’s endeavors has now started reaping benefits as the local councilors and the members of the education committee installed a water tank in the school and also assured the school administration and ITA of maximum support.

SCHOOL DEVELOPMENT SCENARIO

The school is being developed through a four- fold strategy:

1. Quality through teachers training and improved learning environment:

Site based academic support to the teachers that includes conceptual understanding of content imparted in the classrooms as well as making the learning spaces more interactive. Introduction of new information technology for learning in the form of computers, use of CD ROMs and internet for research.

2. Health Awareness Programme:

The teachers and the students are being helped to understand issues related to primary health care and awareness. Provision of First Aid training has been a regular feature to enable the teachers and students to deal with emergency health issues. Under the health programme, the school runs an active health club with students as its members. The community is being given orientations on preventive and reproductive health issues. The children are the class health monitors, setting their own agenda for cleanliness and hygiene every day and rewarding themselves as they put the colored stars on the daily health chart, and claiming prizes on a monthly basis in the form of a tooth brush, soap, toothpaste etc.

3. Improving Physical Environment:

The physical condition of the school is continuously being improved to provide a conducive learning environment to the children and indeed, for the teachers and parents as well.

4. Community mobilization and support through the afternoon enrichment program:

Ranging from the homework study center for weak students, integrated literacy, health and skill development classes for youth and adults, computer literacy courses for the local community at subsidized rates and training programs for the School Council members.     

Nai Basti City District Girls High School was targeted by the iEARN (International Education & Resource Network) team to be provided with a new mini lab with seven new P4 computers, replacing the earlier ones. The internet facility helps the students and teachers to access learning resources from all over the globe. Empowerment has grown amongst teachers and students to new heights, juxtaposing the first images of a run down school with one of a school that provides numerous opportunities to its students.

Over the years the help has come from the Pakistan Association of Greater Houston (PAGH- Texas), CIDA, ITA UK for the social development components of the school and it’s Community Learning Center for Literacy and homework study support, and Dr. Waseema Sheikh (USA-MA.)


To create awareness amongst students about their own historical identity and culture Independence Day, Literacy Day, Child Rights Day, Allama Iqbal Day, Results and Parents Day and many others are celebrated with fervor within the school. The important aspect of all this is that the school team has learnt how to organize programs which are well organized and involve children, teachers and parents. The community of the area is always anxious to attend this school’s creative displays and the programs. Such engagements are an opportunity to socially market school’s varied needs.       

Dealing with human systems, especially teaching them to understand the meaning of change in an environment where the people have given up or are still continuing with old practices, is a complex task. Changing attitudes, accepting new things relevant to teaching experiences or methodologies takes time, but the determination and willingness of the group creates paths to change. Since the teachers had now made their classes full of life where the students are given importance and not snubbed, the students had also started producing good results. This showed “change” is not only inevitable and ongoing but is part of the school culture.

                               

  Pre-Adoption view of School Building                                 Post-Adoption View of School Building



Graphical representation of success in Nai Basti
School

Pre- Adoption

Post-Adoption

Enrolment = 276

Enrolment = 543

Teaching staff = 4

Teaching staff = 12  (8ITA)

Number of rooms = 8 repairable

Number of rooms = 8 repair of depilated building

Shortage of furniture

Provision of furniture No. of furniture…

 

Computer lab (7)

 

 

image

 
Year by year increase in enrolment

Year 2001 /299

Year 2002 /305

Year 2003 /386

Year 2004 /471

 Year 2005 / 334

                      

 

image 

 


Yearly progress in results

Year

Class 5th

Class 8th

Class 10th

2001

92%

 

 

2002

100%

100%

 

2003

100%

100%

 

2004

100%

100%

 

2005

80%

100%

 

 

image