ASER Centre, Pratham Education Foundation, India
Manjistha Banerji, ASER Centre, Pratham Education Foundation
Renu Seth, Pratham Education Foundation
Anuradha Agrawala, ASER Centre, Pratham Education Foundation
Ashwini Deshpande, Independant Researcher
Despite achieving universal elementary school enrollment, school education in India is still plagued with problems of inequity and low learning levels. At the secondary level, children, particularly girls continue to drop-out in greater proportions and research indicates that multiple factors like low learning outcomes, socio-economic and cultural complexities result in a steep decline in the number of girls transitioning to secondary school. This panel proposes to contribute to discussions on gender and secondary education by uniquely combining insights from research and a program intervention in India. Specifically, the panel will utilise evidence from three research studies conducted by ASER Centre, and the Second Chance program implemented by Pratham Education Foundation. Each of the three research studies explored various facets of post-elementary and secondary schooling while the program is designed to help girls and older women complete secondary schooling. The component papers of this panel will highlight the intersections between research and program experience. Specifically: Paper 1 will provide a methodological overview of the research studies conducted by ASER Centre focusing on transition and learning at the post elementary stage among older children. Paper 2 will share broad patterns in elementary to secondary school transition by gender by pooling data from multiple research studies and discuss factors enabling or obstructing successful school transition, particularly among girls. Importantly, the paper will examine associations between children’s educational aspirations, learning outcomes and transition to secondary school. Paper 3 will share insights from Pratham’s Second Chance program, a program that helps girls and women complete their secondary education. The content and pedagogy of this program has been uniquely shaped by Pratham’s experience of working with children who drop out of school and includes both academic and non-academic modules that can help girls and women become more confident academically and in life.
Title: Methodological overview of three research studies exploring elementary to secondary school transition in India
This paper will provide a methodological overview of three research studies conducted by ASER Centre on issues the post-elementary school sector in India. The first study, ‘Exploring post-primary schooling in India’, is a three-year longitudinal study (2012-2015) that tracked the post-primary educational trajectories of close to 6,000 children in Std VI-VIII or between ages 11-16 years. Conducted in a district each of two states (Bihar and Maharashtra), the study generates new evidence on home-and school-based factors that enable or constrain access to quality post primary education in India. Sampled children were tracked over one year and administered baseline and end line learning assessments. Detailed data was also collected on educational and professional aspirations from both sampled children and parents. ‘The study on access, transition and learning in secondary schools’ (2014-2016) was designed as a block-level census of Std VIII students in four rural blocks of India (two blocks each in the state of Uttar Pradesh and Odisha). Adopting a school-based sampling approach, the study followed a cohort of 11,264 students enrolled in Std VIII and collected data on schools, households and children’s learning outcomes at baseline and end line. The third study, Annual Status of Education Report 2017: Beyond Basics, is a rural, household-survey focussing on youth, age 14-18 years. This survey was conducted in one district each of 28 states in India and collected information on the schooling and foundational learning levels of youth in reading and arithmetic. Additionally, the survey also collected information on youth awareness and aspirations related to their preparedness to lead useful and productive lives beyond schooling. Although these research studies were in different locations and examined specific questions in the post-primary space, the consolidation of evidence can help broaden our understanding on girls and secondary education in a large country like India.
Title: Elementary to secondary school transition trends and associations with educational aspirations
Using evidence from the abovementioned research studies, this paper will first present broad trends in elementary to secondary school transition for girls and boys in India and identify potential enablers or barriers to school continuation. Additionally, we will also examine if there are associations between the educational aspirations of young girls and boys and their schooling trajectories. In other words, we explore whether and to what extent students’ educational aspirations are associated with their elementary to secondary school transition rates. For example, is it the case that students with lower educational aspirations are more likely to drop out after elementary school? And if so, what are the household and school level factors that are correlated with student aspirations? Preliminary and descriptive analysis from each of the three studies confirm that girls are likelier to drop-out of school after the completion of elementary school (Std VIII). We propose to undertake further analysis using multivariate techniques to analyse the factors that either enable or act as barriers to school continuation, particularly for girls. Such analysis will be important in investigating and identifying whether a set of similar factors emerge as significant across research conducted in different locations and contexts in India. We also propose to utilise self-reported data on students’ educational and professional aspirations to examine associations with their recorded transition status. Our hypothesis is that lower educational and professional aspirations are associated with greater likelihood of dropping out of school and that students from poorer households, marginalised caste backgrounds and with uneducated parents are likelier to have lower educational aspirations. Findings from this analysis will help offer important insights for policy that be help guide teaching processes that create creating enabling environments for all students and girls to learn and continue their education.
Title: Giving girls a second chance to secondary schooling: Experiences from the field
The Second Chance program aims to assist drop out students, primarily girls, in rural India to complete their secondary school examinations while also providing them with soft skills that will support them in the future. Currently the program operates in 30 centres across 9 states in India and reached 4132 students in 2017-2018. The percentage of girls and women passing their national-level, secondary school examination in Std X has steadily increased, from 51% of enrolled participants in 2012-2013 to 84% in 2016-2017. The paper will describe the program design, content and delivery that have been uniquely shaped by Pratham’s experience of working with children who drop out of school and the understanding that students enrolling in the program can only devote limited time for assignments/studies. Specifically, the paper will focus on two main aspects – community engagement and involvement and the course curriculum comprising academic and non-academic modules. Community engagement and mobilisation activities are undertaken by faculty members and tutors in this program. These include identifying locations with school dropouts, spreading awareness about the program among the community, potential students and their parents, and encouraging them to enrol. This engagement is central to the program and continues with faculty members deeply invested in the lived realities of the participating students. The academic curriculum has been designed keeping in mind the low levels of learning in India. The program is divided into a 3-4-month Foundation Course, aimed at improving and bridging gaps in participants’ foundational learning and an intensive 6-month Main Course that tackles the more demanding secondary level curriculum (Std X). Additionally, it also includes modules on life skills intended to enhance students’ confidence, communication, aspirations and employability. Insights from this program will be useful in identifying practices that can be adapted to other settings to engage and involve communities to help women complete their formal education and, to create enabling learning environments, inside and outside schools, for academic and non-academic achievement among girls and women in the country.