Education Emergency National Coalition – Summary of First Meeting held on 16 July 2021
Table of Contents
Background and objectives of meeting
The idea of a “National Coalition” to work on the “Education Emergency” emerged through informal discussions between individuals, with the initial sharing of a note, and around 50 people were contacted, most of whom attended (names in annex). The aim of the meeting was
Gain an understanding of what would attract different groups to the coalition, what needs it expresses and how it can play a role in social mobilization
- Build consensus around some immediate targets and an initial set of actions in the first three months; and broad organizing structure
- Agree on how to keep in touch with key groups/ individuals and next meeting of this group /enlarged group
- Outline principles for the coalition
- Equity as the primary principle – opportunities for learning and development to be available to all, in fulfilment of RTE, with no discrimination due to socio-economic-other factor
- Organizations/individuals to contribute as per their priorities and capacities – forming a ‘loose coalition’
- While we will) focus our short-term activities on the immediate education emergency needs, these should be linked to the question of ‘what education we want for our children’ (participatory/ social transformatory / inclusive).
Agenda of the meeting
The meeting had four sessions:
|Opening session (facilitator – Gurumurthy K)
|Context setting, Rationale, Vision, initial ideas for proposed next steps for coalition
|Supporting communities to provide opportunities for education (facilitator – Padma Sarangapani)
|Sharing of experiences and possibilities for local support What is the situation on the ground ? What is state doing? What do parents, students, teachers need? How can we use this to transform education for marginalized sections? Key ideas, principles, volunteer preparation, Do’s and don’ts
|Right to education and social mobilization (facilitator – Niranjan Aradhya)
|Understanding right to education in pandemic conditions; guidelines for reopening of schools; protection of children Mobilizing to demand rights because the state is abdicating its responsibilities. Using the levers of power (participation in public policy; legal protections; media voice; representation) to make education central to public discourse. Formulating clear principles and simple demands that can mobilize people. Initial set of demands . Using the pandemic to address inequalities in education
|Next steps (facilitator – Sajitha Bashir)
|Who else should be invited/ reached out to ? Bench marking of states and districts on education emergency. Media resources . Preparing resource materials for parents on how to approach school, state authorities, with right to education. Preparing resource materials for organizations / educators to learning in communities Organizational structure
Highlights of meeting
In the first session, Gurumurthy provided introductory remarks on the rationale and objectives of the proposed National Coalition; briefly described the silent and invisible emergency which needs to be made visible and heard; the need to act on livelihood, health and education to protect children’s right to education; the need to re-open schools in a safe manner and ensure equity in education; the need to be organized at a national level; short-term versus longer term.
He proposed two activity tracks for the coalition –
- Educational support to schools/ communities (providing models, resources, experiences, ideas to people working in communities and in schools to provide meaningful learning opportunities to children
- Social mobilization (working with parents, communities to highlight the ‘education emergency’ in the country and to persuade actions from governments to address it)
Rishikesh emphasized the need to encourage governments to consider evidence available and plan opening of schools in a decentralized manner.
Sajitha explained that the health emergency is immediate, palpable, we see immediate effects of good management, good treatment, etc. The education emergency on the other hand is invisible, we don’t see children gasping for knowledge and this may be the reason why there is inadequate public discourse in this regard. What is being offered in india and other developing countries as online/remote learning is not adequate. In advanced countries there has been an effort to reopen schools, at least in a staggered manner and in many places primary schools have been functioning
The link between this coalition and other initiatives
The coalition is open to linking with other groups/networks/coalitions which has similar aims. Particularly on the ‘social mobilization’ theme, there would be networks (such as the RTE forum) which are actively working on fulfillment of the RTE Act conditions by public authorities defined in that Act and mobilization processes / campaigns can be coordinated for higher impact.
Governance of the coalition
The aim is to establish a ‘loose coalition’ of individuals and institutions interested in contributing to either or both of the two tracks identified and confirming to the principles outlined. The coalition should combine the flexibility of local action with a national approach based on principles and common plan of action.
The work of the coalition is expected to be furthered by working groups on the two identified tracks and on any other important issue identified. IT for Change will provide ‘secretariat’ support, in terms of maintaining the coalition website and producing the newsletter. At this point,there is no plan for giving the coalition any formal/legal structure. As the work of the coalition picks up, more specific governance arrangements can be figured out.
Notes on the discussions are available in Annex on ‘Shared notes from meeting’
Session 2 – Educational support to schools/ communities
Padma explained the need for re-imagining education in the context of the pandemic, and possibililties of people (teachers, student teachers, NGO members, volunteers, parents) working with groups of children in the community level on educationally significant activities, that are sensitive and empathetic. We need to look at ways and models in which we can support professionally trained teachers /volunteers to enable learning in a localised manner. Identify a range of ideas and resources that can be used to make learning meaningful and broaden the definition of curriculum.
The same approaches would be required in schools as well, once they re-opened. This would be required, to provide an alternative to the ‘learning loss/deficit’ argument, that governments may adopt and compel teachers to get too quickly into ‘grade level teaching’, which would be detrimental to the learner and to learning.
Shubankar, Anjali Noronha, Deepika Singh and Somya briefly presented their experiences in developing curricular materials on these principles and their use over the last year. Details of their sharing is available in the ‘shared notes’.
This activity has two components – identifying materials and methods that would be relevant to learner needs and contexts and reaching it out to people working with communities. Since the area of ‘materials and methods’ is vast (since they would depend on learner age bands, language, areas of learning etc), there would be a need to prioritise this process. Also focus should be to identify materials already available.
The aim should be to also provide pedagogical resources to teachers, students and parents as schools re-open. Protocols for re-opening schools would be required for district and state governments.
Centralised decisions are a problem, decision making needs to be localised, action needs to be decentralised.
Session 3 – Social mobilization
Niranjan facilitated this session and focused on the need to mobilize parents groups for bringing school opening as an important issue. Schools with a small number of students can be opened. There is a need to persuade governments to take decisions based on scientific findings
Santi Snigdha, Anvar Sadath, Manisha Priyam also presented their experiences with working with communities on mobilization on education issues. Details of their sharing is available in the ‘shared notes
Working with parents and organizations to demand right to education, safe re-opening of schools and related demands for health, safety and livelihoods, in order to help them approach schools and govt authorities; mobilization of people’s organizations; work in several states at the same time (though there may be an initial focus on few states); develop policy tracker to compare states and districts (as well as monitoring policy implementation); collect and disseminate data on the education emergency; media outreach were discussed in this session.
Closing session – Next Steps and Key Milestones
Sajitha Bashir facilitated this session. The plan over the next 3 months would be to organize two working groups for each of the tracks, with support from a small secretariat at IT for change. A web platform to provide required information support and a periodic newsletter to reach out to interested people would be planned. All effort is voluntary at this time.
We could hold another broad meeting in 6 weeks to update on progress and take stock of what is happening.
The coalition should work with groups that are already working with vulnerable communites – urban poor, migrant workers, hawkers etc. Children need to relearn going to school, learning ‘deficit’ should not be focus or ‘remediation’ be an approach. Opening schools not a black and white phenomena, needs to be a graded consideration. A toolkit for school opening would be useful.
Specific action items suggested –
- have smaller follow up meeting to chart out the 3 month plan
- have a plan to talk and reach out to interested individuals and organisations
- circulate the action plan and newsletter
- create working groups for each of the two fronts, identify objectives that can be met
- curating resources, in local languages, to support local groups/action and
- Engage with SMCs, teacher groups, student organisations, SHGs, to demystify pandemic understanding, and address fears
- Provide on the web platform – research – data and evidence, media articles and innovative models
Note on the Consultation Meeting – https://educationemergency.net/2021/07/meeting-of-the-education-emergency-coalition-on-16th-july . Shared notes of the meeting – available on the above link
Annexure – Participants in the Meeting
|Name (as recorded in BBB)
|Mansoor- Hawkers JAC
|Rajkiran M K
|Rajkiran M K
|Somya Nand Gubbachi