Providing Academic Support and Building Life Skills of Children From Poor Families
Describe The Approaches Utilized To Measure / Assess This KM Initiative:
The NGO has included several activities for building life skills and inculcating values in children. However, the current assessment system focuses only on the number enrolled and academic achievement of the children. In the absence of readily available indicators and methodologies, non-scholastic achievements are not visible. The MSC technique was used as an evaluation tool that involved adolescents writing their own stories about what they perceived to be ‘significant change’ as a result of their participation in the programme and selecting the most significant change stories through a transparent, participatory process involving different layers of selectors who were also stakeholders in the programme. MSC involves five basic steps: environment building; story collection; story selection; story analysis; and using the stories. A total of 30 significant change stories were collected (14 boys; 16 girls) and the MSC stories were selected through two levels of selection process. Grassroots Comics were also used to get insights about differences perceived by the participants between their formal schools and the Learning Centre. Comics are stories told visually. They become grassroots comics when they are made by people rather than art professionals. A total of 23 Wall posters were made by adolescents who had written stories. Five group discussions were conducted with the adolescents to understand the differences between the Learning Centre and their formal schools in terms of physical infrastructure, activities conducted and teaching-learning environment. A checklist was also used to validate information collected. Interviews with key informants helped to understand the perspective of multi-stakeholders. Twenty five parents and 15 teachers were interviewed. Time frame for assessment was 6 months. It was a one-time assessment that was carried out as part of research conducted by a post graduate student for her dissertation. Being a participatory process, management and the teachers were involved in the process on assessing the impact of the programme as perceived by the adolescents who are the primary stakeholders. An advocacy film has been developed based on the MSC stories.
What Do You Think Are The Main Unanswered Questions Or Challenges Related To This Field Of Work?:
MSC is a relatively new technique. Some of the questions that seem to be offer challenges include: a) how to convince decision makers in an organization to invest in using this technique in terms of time and resources? b) what are the pros and cons of deciding the domains before collecting the stories? c) how to ensure that personal biases do not influence the story selection process? d) how to elicit stories from those who are rich in experience but do not have story writing skills? e) how to use the stories for strengthening the project?
What Was The Purpose Or Motivation For Assessing This KM Initiative? :
NGOs face problems in fund raising to support programmes such as Learning Centres that influence not only academic performance but also build life skills of adolescents. MSC technique captures the nuances of behaviour change that can be useful for providing insights about programme outcomes – expected and unexpected.
What Were The Most Important Lessons Learned About The Assessment Process?:
Several factors contributed to using the approach successfully: a) MSC technique is an intensive process of engaging with people at different levels. Advocacy with the management was crucial to involve various stakeholders; b) MSC is not a stand-alone technique. Complementing it with other approaches is needed. Grassroots Comics, focus group discussions and interviews with key informants provided insights and supported the outcomes achieved through the stories; c) good quality stories form the basis of the technique. Conducting workshop for skill building in story writing and making wall posters (grassroots comics) was useful; d) sorting the stories into domains after collection provided flexibility in eliciting better quality and range of experiences. Freedom to write significant change experienced giving a framework helped to give details for content analysis; e) personal biases can influence story selection process. Names of the story writers were hidden to avoid subjectivity; f) skills in facilitating the story selection process are very important for making it a participatory and transparent process of consensus building; g) convenience of the participants was considered. The story selection process was held on a Sunday when the adolescents could spend time without restriction; h) using MSC stories in the annual report and advocacy film increased visibility of the technique; Barriers faced during the process: a) collecting stories during working hours restricted the number and range of the participants; b) teachers were reluctant to spare classes for this activity; b) some adolescents initially showed interest but then backed out. Sustaining their interest was difficult.
What Would You Do Differently Next Time?:
Instead of conducting the activity during academic session, it would yield better results if conducted during vacations after motivating the adolescents and training them in story writing. Improving skills of the facilitators through training would enhance the quality of the selection process. The organization will be advised to compile the stories selected, include them in the library and give recognition to the story writers. Perspective of other stakeholders like parents, teachers and community would also be included. The technique will be used again with more confidence.
Describe The KM Initiative:
The Department of Development Communication & Extension of Lady Irwin College, affiliated to Delhi University, is closely associated with several Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) providing experiential learning to the students while strengthening the NGO programmes through training, research and networking. The course aims to build knowledge base related to participatory monitoring and evaluation (PM&E) techniques – important for development communication initiatives. The Most Significant Change (MSC) technique has been used in various contexts. The initiative of an NGO providing academic support to poor children through tuition/ learning centre is reported here. Arpana Trust, an NGO is working in a resettlement colony of Delhi. Resettlement colonies have been established as part of the urban slum clearance programme wherein families have been shifted to specific geographical areas in the outskirts of the city. This has not only impacted the livelihood of the poor people but has also affected the education of the children who are ‘pushed out’ of the school system because of poor quality of school education and parents’ inability to provide support at home. The need for Tuition centre as a strategy to retain them in school is being recognized by several NGOs. However, the modalities and effectiveness of this support system are not established. In Arpana Trust, nearly 1400 children are participating in the programme. Children attend government schools in morning and evening shifts and participate in the Learning Center before or after the school is over - girls attend morning school while boys attend afternoon school.
What Advice Would You Give To Others Based On Your Experience?:
The MSC technique is not only a tool for monitoring and evaluation; it is also an empowering process for those involved in the project. To be used effectively, understanding the expectations of different stakeholders is important. Including teachers and parents in addition to the adolescents would give a holistic understanding of their views. Story writing skills can be enhanced through training. The story selection process should ensure transparency and participation of different stakeholders for which training for facilitation skills should be given. Qualitative analysis of stories requires skills that need to be built into the project.