Transform Schools Seeks Certainty of Learning in Uncertain Times for Indian Government School Students

A formal dissemination of the RCT findings was organised by Transform Schools over a webinar on Thursday evening, comprising of an eminent panel of speakers. The panel led by Shri. Satyabrata Sahu, IAS. Principal Secretary of School and Mass Education, Govt. of Odisha and J-PAL affiliated researcher Dr. Sabrin Beg shared intriguing insights discussing the evaluation and implications in a post-Covid school system.

Schools in India have been shut since start of 2020. This meant unprecedented learning losses for the students without access to digital learning. COVID-19 forced 268M students in India out of schools, 80% of whom are from low-income households. Poor access to online learning further exacerbated the impact of school closure, as less than 50% of students are connected to governments e-learning groups.

An independent evaluation using Randomised Control Trial (RCT) methodology shows:

  • Utkarsh treatment effect is about 0.1 standard deviations. The Transform Schools programme adds over half a year of additional learning via in just 50 hours of targeted instruction per subject.

  • Students learnt significantly more compared to the control group – 40% to 200% in four subjects

  • Intervention improves performance on adapted questions from assessments under the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA)

  • The Utkarsh model presents an opportunity to tackle the learning crisis many States face

Pre-COVID-19, 26.9% of all students and 26.8% of all girls would drop out at the secondary school level. This attrition is expected to worsen with the impact of the pandemic being palpable. Urgent attention is required to mitigate factors that limit access and impact the quality of learning, while enabling the State government systems to target their instruction and reach children who need their support the most to halt and reverse the lifelong impact to learning and potential economic gains.

Shifting the discussion to donor priorities in a post-COVID-19 world, Abha Thorat Shah of The British Asian Trust, Sudha Srinivasan from The/Nudge, Dr. Soma Pujari and Libby Burkeman of Kusuma Trust UK spoke about the urgency of investment in scaling outcome focussed intervention such as Utkarsh from national and international foundations, CSR and other investors. Such programmes require strong partnership with State governments to ensure that no child is left behind upon returning to learn in government schools in 2021. The speakers congratulated Government of Odisha and Transform Schools for their impact and scalable model. “If India has to do well, it has to prepare its large workforce and we want proven solutions, which is why we have continued to support Transform Schools” says Dr. Soma Pujari.

Pankaj Vinayak Sharma ED of Transform Schools, Akshay Soni, MD of Nudge accelerator. Dr. Sandra Sequeira from LSE, Dr. Megha Pradhan from J-PAL and Shraddha Jha from Transform Schools moderated the sessions.

Sharing his vision, Pankaj said, “Transform Schools seeks to outpace the problem of poor learning outcomes in India in partnership with State and investor partnerships to reach at least 25% of children in government schools in India by 2023 with our proven offering. The time to act and change education and life outcomes in India is now.

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