Evaluation of Thousand Schools Program Completed

Area(s) of work: Education

Duration: October 2022 to August 2023

Status: Completed

Funder/ Partner: Tata Steel Foundation

Universalisation of elementary education continues to be a major challenge despite many initiatives by both the central and state governments Challenges related to learning deficit in children, high rate of drop-outs and child labour continue to linger, particularly in remote regions. ASPIRE, an NGO works in remote regions of the country to strengthen the public-school education system through improved school governance, the introduction of new pedagogic practices, and empowering teachers and local communities with the objective to universalise elementary education.

The “Thousand School Programme” is an initiative which was implemented in six administrative educationally backward blocks in Odisha. By addressing three critical aspects of schooling-Access, Learning and Governance, the programme aimed to ensure every child is in school and on track to progress to completion of grade 8, address the issue of learning deficit among first-generation learners and create effective learning environments in schools, and strengthen School Management Committees (SMCs) to improve local school governance and management. In Phase 2 (2016), the programme was extended to two blocks of West Singbhum district (Noamundi and Jagannathpur) of Jharkhand.

This study is an evaluation of the phase 1 of Thousand Schools program and aims to assess the formative aspect (the programme design and its theory of change), process (the implementation of the programme and the contributions of and coordination between ASPIRE and Tata Steel Foundation (TSF) in managing and monitoring it) and the impact or results brought about by the programme. In other words, the study seeks to evaluate Phase 1 of the programme to understand and document the main results and changes brought on by the programme in the lives of children, and how the beneficiary communities have adopted schooling for all as a social norm. Moreover, the study also documents how the government schools, local administrations, and boundary actors like youths and women SHG have contributed to the changes, and the role they have played in the changes, as also the work done during the lockdown (2020-22). It also seeks to understand the replicability and scalability of the intervention by studying the process of implementation and impact of a similar intervention by ASPIRE in Noamundi block of Jharkhand.