In the southern Indian state of Telangana, the majority of students who attend government schools come from low-resource households and historically, have fewer social and educational opportunities. The Telangana Social/ Tribal Welfare Residential Education Institution Societies (the “Society”), an office of the state government dedicated to improving educational outcomes for these students through residential education, envisions advancing the social and educational equity of children by offering them more effective, high-quality, and holistic learning and life skills opportunities. The Society and the GC-DWC are investing in student empowerment programs that focus on 21st-century core skills like problem solving, innovation, collaboration, leadership, and communication skills. Additionally, Society leadership has implemented a contextualized Whole Child Development (WCD) approach and asked the GC-DWC to support the expansion of teacher and school leadership training which will provide teachers virtual support and school visits and mentoring and participate in peer-learning groups facilitated by the GC-DWC. This new sequential training and coaching model, including a dedicated WCD Research and Training Center, is designed to build out the Society’s capacity for teacher training and improve the way it equips and trains teachers.
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 WCD approach. Project Sampoorna aims to build, operate, and replicate a WCD model of education in India through holistic systems engagement.
As the implementing organization for Project Sampoorna, the GC-DWC is matching the Society’s vision with the tools and support they need to achieve their goals, refine their processes, and sustain them into the future. 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:
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:
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 programing.
Generation of research-based evidence to inform the Society’s creation of its own WCD Framework for schools and 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.
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.
Development of the Safe and Inclusive School Intervention
In response to increased reports of bullying and wellbeing concerns, the Society has 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 is launching its WCD innovation package in 16 pilot schools, including:
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.
Development and wellbeing training package for teachers.
Integrated Social and emotional learning curriculum training for teachers.
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.
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, the Society has requested the GC-DWC develop a WCD Research and Training Center to support teacher capacity development and program evaluation in the years to come. Society teachers will be trained for implementation in 400 Social and Tribal Welfare schools over the next four years. Over the course of the training sessions, teachers will receive virtual support, school visits and mentoring and will participate in peer-learning groups facilitated by the GC-WC. This new sequential training and coaching model is designed to build out the Society’s capacity for teacher training and improve the way it equips and trains teachers. The program will gradually be integrated into a two-year bachelor of education program taught at Osmania University in Telangana.
To expand the dialogue of WCD interventions in India, the Society will host a conference with the GC-DWC on supporting marginalized learners in India in the fall of 2023. Practitioners, researchers, and advocates from around the country will be invited to participate and share learning.