Muktangan focuses on holistic development of the child while following the philosophy “Education by the community, for the community.” The project has a low-cost replicable model focused on centered education. It provides professional training to women from the urban disadvantaged communities to be skilled, child-centered, inclusive English medium teachers. The program addresses all aspects of an education system simultaneously:
- The 7 Muktangan schools (called spokes) and teacher education center (called hub) operate through a strong public-private partnership with the Mumbai municipal schooling system, demonstrating the effectiveness of the model within the mainstream education system.
- Four hundred teachers, support staff, and school leaders are trained and inducted from local marginalized communities and thereby clearly understand the needs and aspirations of the children.
- Three-year teacher education program designed in house in conformity with the National Curriculum Framework for Teacher Education adopts a methodology of active learning. Role plays, case studies, group discussions, and child observation projects constitute more than 50 percent of the training time.
- The community teachers move with children (one grade at a time), thereby developing and understanding of child development as a continuous process on subject pedagogy. School leaders continue to participate in curriculum planning meetings and classroom teaching to develop themselves as pedagogical leaders and not as administrative managers.
- Low student-teacher ratio enables the classroom curriculum to be tailor-made to the needs of individual children. They are supported by a team of special educators, librarians, and holistic education specialists (all from the community). All are achieved at costs lower than the government educational system.
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CEI approaches in action
The program operates from within the municipal schools, which are mainly accessed by marginalized communities. 100 percent of the teachers are from local communities.
The Paragon Charitable Trust (PCT) was founded in 1966 by the father of Mr. Sunil Mehta and undertook charitable work in the form of scholarships for underprivileged children. In 2003, Mr. Mehta and his wife and educator Elizabeth Mehta adopted Muktangan as PCT’s flagship initiative. Ms. Liz, through her 35 years of experience at all levels of schooling in India, identified a number of issues inadequately addressed by mainstream schooling e.g. rote learning, high student-teacher ratios, etc., and started the Muktangan Initative through PCT as a preschool and teacher education program at Worli, Central Mumbai, for underprivileged local communities.
Later, through a partnership with the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM), six classrooms were rented in the local Global Mill Passage School. This led to Muktangan’s curriculum and child-centered methodology being observed by the MCGM. In 2004, under a public-private partnership, the MCGM invited Muktangan to establish an English medium, primary school in the same school as preschool; it was also mandated that the school would grow by one grade every year until the 10th grade was reached. Thus, Muktangan was able to expand its teacher training and incorporate training in the primary pedagogical process that was simultaneously being researched and replicated in classrooms.
In 2007, at the request of the MCGM, Muktangan established six more English medium schools within existing MCGM school buildings. The new schools would also grow by one standard per year. Through its integrated mode, Muktangan trains women in the community to teach their own community children in an inclusive child-centered methodology. A Special Education Needs Department was also created in the school to support Muktangan’s inclusive philosophy. In 2014, the first batch of 42 standard 10 students, including eight with significant learning disabilities appeared for the SSC Board Exam in March 2014 and passed out of Muktangan’s pilot school while the six additional schools reached 7th grade.
As of late 2014, Muktagan has trained 550 community, English-medium, inclusive teachers; 380 teachers work in seven schools, receiving professional development through two-year pedagogical modules, timetables, curriculum understanding and design (CUD) meetings and vacation workshops. In recent years, the model has been endorsed by educators, government officials, and non-government organizations (UNICEF, NUEPA, TISS).
By the year 2017, excluding Muktangan's pilot school (Global Mill Passage), which had its first batch of standard 10 students pass out in 2013 with 100 percent of students getting 1st class, the other six schools through the Muktangan initiative will add on a new higher class every year, leading to all six reaching class 10. Muktangan will have more than 550 community teachers. As part of the outreach initiatives, 700 teachers will be trained in the Muktangan methodology. Muktangan's parternships with the MCGM, UNICEF, and many other NGOs will continue to advocate and propagate learnings through new partnerships. The program hopes to impact more than 1,000 teachers through pedagogy by the academic year 2016-17.
Monitoring & Evaluation
The school department leaders (sciences, socio-emotional, holistic, etc.) meets once a month to design and assess rubrics for child-centered education (CCE) and teacher assessment.
The M&E team at Muktangan evaluates the following key focus areas:
- Muktangan believes in a formative, rather than summative, assessment of every child studying at the schools, and thus have innovative tools to track each individual child's cognitive development in terms of their language and math skills that may not always match grade-level competencies
- Children conduct themselves with confidence with high self-esteem and persistence
- Children have some skill in creative arts, performing arts, and sports. The team documents the performance and participation of the children in internal and external events.
- The trainee development is measured in terms of a rubric in which they move from one level to another throughout the year to be responsible and creative planners, as well as effective communicators who can make connections between theory and practice and active learners who construct their own learning through intense observation and reflection.
During March 2014:
- The first batch of standard 10 students passed out of Muktangan's pilot school in Mumbai; 100% of Muktangan students scored above 1st class at the SSC exam (eight students were certified with dyslexia), which is twice the average for government schools in Maharashtra.
- At the state scholarship exam held for standard 7, 100% of all the Muktangan students who appeared for the exam were able to clear it while only 60% of students who appeared from other schools in the Mumbai region passed the exam.
All the women trained and employed by Muktangan belong to marginalized communities. Average household income of trainees or children are in the range of Rs. 10,000 per month.
75% of the teachers trained at Muktangan are either absorbed within Muktangan schools and other schools or NGOs.
In 2014, 77% of teachers graduated from Muktangan's teacher training program. 100% of students who appeared for the SSC cleared the exam.
The average student attendance at Muktangan schools is 92%.
The average teacher attendance at Muktangan schools is 94%.
Muktangan's three-year teacher training program trains more than 85 trainees each year.