Project Sampoorna

Telangana, India

India’s economy is booming, but in doing so, there are groups that are being left behind. Children from underprivileged communities are not equipped to take advantage of the country’s educational and economic progress, and are in serious danger of being perpetually overlooked. Telangana is the fourth-largest state in India with the 7th-strongest ranked economy. It has a thriving technology industry and boasts one of the largest cities in India: Hyderabad. Within the state, there is a 67% literacy rate and 70% numeracy rate for students in Grade 3. This is well above the national average of 20.5% for Grade 2 literacy and 25.9% numeracy for learners in Grade 3. 

Telangana has demonstrated strong financial inclusion for low-income households—ranking 2nd in the nation—that has included strong support for marginalized learners from underprivileged backgrounds, with historically fewer social and educational opportunities, through residential government education. These learners come from the Scheduled Caste (SC) (16.9%), the Backward Caste (BC)(49%), and Scheduled Tribal communities (ST) (10.9%). The Telangana Social/ Tribal Welfare Residential Education Institution Societies (TSWREIS/ TTWREIS or the “Society”) has emerged as a progressive government response to providing equitable education opportunities for members of the SC, ST, BC, and other minority communities. In Telangana, the Society envisions creating outstanding residential schools that provide high-quality, holistic, and value-based education to marginalized children that will enable social mobility and empowerment. In partnership with local non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the Society has started to do so through school-based interventions centered on health, life skills, innovation and learning, sports, safety, and gender. 

While progress towards this goal is clearly evident, systems strengthening and innovation are required to fully achieve them. The University of Notre Dame’s (UND) Global Center for the Development of the Whole Child (GC-DWC) has worked to bolster the Society’s capabilities to this end by serving as the anchor organization for Porticus’s Project Sampoorna. The overall goal of Project Sampoorna is to build, operate, and replicate a whole child development (WCD) model for education in India through holistic systems engagement. The project aims to help these disadvantaged and overlooked children overcome their historic subservient role in society, and enable them to join the formal economy. The Society’s implementation of residential schools is part of the education formula that can help children develop a positive sense of who they are, and to get them to rethink and realize that they do possess the capabilities to thrive and succeed. But, this can only happen if the school culture supports that transformational potential. In Telangana, the GC-DWC has worked since December 2020 to match the Society’s vision with the tools and support they need to achieve their goals, refine their processes, and sustain them into the future.


Our ApproachWCD Wheel

Developing a holistic education system that meets the complex needs of learners requires careful assessment of how both existing and potential activities align within a whole child development (WCD) approach. Project Sampoorna aims to build, operate, and replicate a WCD model of education in India through holistic systems engagement.  

Guided by the belief that the most effective and enduring results come from solutions that are created, understood, and accepted by the people impacted, the GC-DWC’s Telangana- and Notre Dame-based teams are engaging senior Society leadership at the systems level, and its school directors, teachers, and students at the school level.


Key project activities have included: 


Phase 1

Creating the Whole Child Development Framework

The first phase Project Sampoorna, which was implemented in 2021 through 2022, was dedicated to building stakeholder consensus and developing a plan for moving ahead. This included:  

  1. Active and consistent engagement of project stakeholders. A 35 member working group was established, representatively composed of teachers, alumni, principals, regional coordinating officers, and head office staff. With technical support from the GC-DWC, this working group developed a WCD framework and systems map to better understand their ecosystem and how to improve programming.

  2. Generation of research-based evidence to inform the Society’s creation of its own WCD Framework for schools, and an action plan for next steps using the framework as a decision-making tool. Out of these learning activities, there has been a request for accelerated training which would focus on Society teachers, but then expand to all teachers in the state of Telangana.  

  3. Capacity development of the Society to integrate and own technical components of a WCD approach. Topics covered include: the science behind social and emotional learning, creating safe spaces for learnings, appropriate health and nutrition, and importantly, program learning so that research is informing programming at every level. Capacity development has been integrated over the lifespan of the project through workshops, in-person meetings, and contextualized materials.  


Phase 2

Development of the Safe and Inclusive School Intervention

In response to increased reports of bullying and wellbeing concerns, the Society asked the GC-DWC to focus on the Safety and Protection portion of their framework and launch a Safe and Inclusive Schools Initiative (SISI) which promotes safe and empowering school environments. Through SISI, being implemented from November 2022 through March 2023, Project Sampoorna has launched its WCD innovation package in 16 pilot schools, including:

  1. School safety policy with best practices for teacher and student behavior expectations, consequences for violations, and reporting mechanisms. This is designed to directly address bullying and school culture.

  2. Development and wellbeing training package for teachers. 

  3. Integrated social and emotional learning (SEL) curriculum training for teachers.

  4. Activities for students on positive peer interactions and skill development, including: school assemblies with cooperative games, listening circles when students return from home, increased mentorship from teachers, revised co-scholastic programming.

Embedded within these activities are Rapid Evaluation, Assessment and Learning Methods (REALM) to ensure learning for future iterations, and that the primary stakeholders are benefitting from learning. 

In the 2023/2024 academic year, this intervention was scaled to 61 schools using a trainer-of-trainer model to embed a SISI champion within each school. In the upcoming 2024/2025 academic year, programming will scale to a further 100 schools. This model will continue until all Society schools have embedded programming.


Whole Child Development Training Center

Project Sampoorna’s extensive collaboration and consensus-building with the Society has resulted in the empowerment of Society leadership to apply and integrate the WCD framework into their decision making, the training of their staff, and the programming that benefits their students. To expand on this progress, a WCD Research and Training Center was established to support teacher capacity development and program evaluation in the years to come. The program will be integrated into a two-year bachelor of education program taught at Osmania University in Telangana. A WCD curriculum was piloted in the summer of 2023 at Osmania University, and will be scaled to 78 college campuses in 2024 with the support and training of Osmania faculty. The curriculum will be required for all student teachers graduating from Osmania University, ensuring that a WCD teaching approach will be scaled across all education systems in Telangana.

In addition, the GC-DWC has been asked to develop an exchange program between Osmania University and the University of Notre Dame in 2024 and beyond. This will include a student exchange between campuses and English language mentorship at Society schools to increase student’s communication skills and ultimately their employability.