RTE: The debate continues

A space for alternate schools

Note on behalf of ‘Alternative Schools’ with regard to certain provisions of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009

This is a representation by a group of educators who have been engaged with the running and development of Alternative Schools. This note attempts to articulate this group’s perspectives on the recently notified Right to Free and Compulsory Education Act and our concerns with it. We endorse the regulations under the RTE Act which would ensure certain minimal standards in terms of infrastructure, teaching quality and the implementation of the curriculum along the guidelines of the NCF 2005. However, there are aspects of the regulations that might jeopardize the continuation of these schools and we would hope that a space could be assured for Alternative Schools.

These schools have played a very important role in supporting the Government’s public education system and have been places of innovation and experimentation that have contributed to both extending the discourse on school education and in developing good practice in the classroom.

Alternative Schools have been efforts that have, by and large, served the marginalized and the underprivileged – Scheduled Castes, tribal societies, rural poor, urban poor who have migrated to cities etc. They have also played a role in catering to the many children with special needs and those rejected by the mainstream schools because they do not fit in more rigid structures.

These schools are characterized by a non-competitive learning environment, a broader curriculum that is more locally adapted, a more continuous and qualitative assessment, a pace of learning that is determined by a child’s capacity and the use of a range of teaching methodologies that are responsive to different children’s needs.

These institutions and the people involved in them have also contributed to educational policy, teacher development in Government schools, curriculum and material development, academic knowledge and research in education and in other projects for the improvement of quality of Government schools.

We welcome the RTE Act and the Government’s concern and intentions to bring about change particularly in the following areas:

  1. To provide education to all children – particularly the underprivileged children who have not been able to access educational opportunities for various reasons,
  2. To regulate the setting up of schools purely for profit with little commitment to provide quality education as outlined by the NCF 2005,
  3. To improve the quality of teaching by insisting upon trained and qualified teachers,
  4. To ensure that basic facilities are provided to create a safe and healthy environment for children.
    However, while recognizing the Government’s’ need for greater monitoring to ensure quality education for all, we would like to bring to the attention of the Government that several of the RTE Act’s provisions would also place severe constraints on some of the Alternative Schools with serious educational intentions and a good track record. Some anticipated difficulties are described below:

Most of these schools collect no fees or just token amounts. They have been founded by concerned individuals and work on minimal budgets. Some Alternative Schools, while fulfilling the basic requirements of safety and hygiene, may not fulfill all the criteria as specified by the Act. For example, in urban situations there may not be playground space within the school campus.

We request that, depending on the location and context of the concerned Alternative Schools, there be a relaxation of some of the rules related to infrastructure requirements, without compromising on the essential safety and convenience of the children.

Teacher qualifications
Most of these schools have been founded – not by people who have studied to qualify as teachers but by people drawn to education by a social concern. These people are often highly qualified and well-read but may not have B. Ed. degrees.

In the course of running these centres, they have often recruited local people and have trained them over years through apprenticeship, mentoring and non-formal training programmes. This means that not all teachers have formal teaching qualifications.

Therefore we request that the requirement for certification of all teachers be handled with greater flexibility where alternative training and intensive apprenticeship programmes could be seen as a viable option. Such programmes could include a stronger component of internship, and a distance learning based course for working teachers. In this way more nuanced parameters than formal ‘qualifications’ could be used to assess a teacher‘s competency.

Standardization of curriculum
We are concerned that while the RTE Act advocates a child-friendly, activity-based methodology, when, in practice, schools are expected to follow a prescribed set of text books and transact a time bound syllabus. This would severely limit the Alternative Schools’ ability to provide a flexible curriculum based on the local context and a pace of teaching that is responsive to the needs of the learner.

There needs to be some recognition that in order to ensure that children are receiving education of a sufficiently good standard, one does not need to use standardized texts or syllabus. The standards can be maintained and learning ensured even by using other curricula and teaching-learning material that are better adapted to the particular situation/setting/target group of children. Assessment of educational quality in Alternative Schools should be more process-based and on qualitative terms and should afford flexibility in use of text books/materials, as well as pace of transacting curriculum.

Further Recommendations for Consideration
1. Continuing the NIOS OBE scheme
We believe that a continuation and strengthening of the NIOS OBE scheme would offer many children, who attend Alternative Schools the possibility of a meaningful education. The NIOS has a well-developed set of criteria for giving accreditation to agencies which take up the OBE scheme for children, and this may be instructive in developing criteria for accrediting all types of alternative schools or learning centres.

The NIOS itself may be constituted into an alternative central board, the Open Basic Education Board, which may give affiliations to schools and conduct examinations after eight years of schooling.

2. A National-level Council for Alternative Schooling
This would be set up as a national body representing the interests and concerns of Alternative Schools that would actively explore ways to work with the Government and to be accountable to the concerned authorities.

3. Alternative schools being identified/recognised as Educational Resource Centres.

2 Introduction

2.1 Who we are
We represent a group of concerned citizens and educators who have been working over many years in educating:

  • children from marginalized communities and weaker sections of society;
  • children of parents who have opted for an education that lies outside the mainstream forms of schooling available today. As individuals and organizations, we have been engaged with the running and development of schools and learning centres based on holistic philosophies of education. Among us are educators who work with children of tribal communities, children of slum dwellers, and the children of the rural and urban poor, as well as those children whose parents who opt for a different way of learning than that provided by most mainstream schools.

2.2 Key aspects of alternative schools
Many Alternative Schools have been reflective endeavours that have attempted to deepen and broaden the understanding of ‘quality of education’ for all, regardless of different socio-economic backgrounds. Most of these centres have over two decades of hard work behind them, and some institutions go back to pre-Independence times. The key aspects that characterize most of these centres can be summarized as

  • Non competitive learning environment: Learning is based on cooperation, helping each other and working with each other. Children are not pitted against each other but are encouraged to do their best. Children are allowed to learn at their own pace, avoiding stress and there is an emphasis given to understanding.
  • Contextually adapted curriculum: The curriculum is flexible and responsive to the needs and contexts of the learners. The knowledge children bring from the local cultures, are a part of and often the starting point for the curriculum. The immediate environment is often used as a rich resource for extending learning in the classroom.
  • Multilingual environment: Classrooms in many Alternative Schools have a flexible approach in the use of language. More languages than just the medium of instruction are allowed and used in the classroom. Efforts are made to include the home language of the learner as far as is feasible. This facilitates better understanding and adjustment to an unfamiliar setting and also enriches the learning process. This helps children from migrant populations and children from homes which use non-standard dialects to settle and adjust better to the school.
  • Non-comparative assessment: Assessment in these schools is continuous and non judgemental. Assessment provides teachers with the necessary input to know where the learner is, and to adapt and extend the teaching accordingly. Assessment is done in a variety of ways and not only in the form of marks and ranks that compare learners with each other and judge them.
  • Flexible pace of learning and transaction of curriculum: The pace of completion of syllabus is planned but not predetermined or rigid. The learner’s ability and capacity are the central factors in determining the pace of teaching. It allows the children in a particular class or learning group to proceed at different paces and be at different levels in the same subject.
  • Inclusiveness. Selection for admission is neither based simply on scholastic achievement nor on ability to pay (the full) fee. Some Alternative Schools, catering for the weaker sections of society, give free education to their students or provide subsidies for those who cannot afford the regular fees. In a number of the Alternative Schools as many as 60 percent of the children will be supported in this way.
    A number of Alternative Schools have been able to include children from different socio-economic backgrounds who have Special Educational Needs. Particularly in rural areas there are limited facilities to cater for children with learning disabilities and so such children often do not receive the special attention and support they need within the framework of the mainstream school. Some of these schools make it a point to take in and work with children who have ‘dropped out’ or who, for a variety of reasons, are unable to adjust to the demands of mainstream schools.
  • Range of teaching methodologies. Within the network of Alternative Schools there is rich diversity of methodologies. These have emerged in response to different contexts and communities and the needs of individual children. These different approaches have also drawn on the insights and practice of significant pioneers in education both in India and worldwide.

    The common concern that we share is that of enabling a meaningful education for young persons in our country which is responsive to their life needs and the real social challenges of today, and which has the intent of bringing about ameliorative transformations in our society.

2.3 Alternative Schools as Educational Resource Centres
We may add that some of these schools have acted as active educational resource centres, contributing to Indian education in a number of ways. Out of them has emerged theory in the areas of Educational Philosophy, Sociology, Language Studies, as well as a range of teaching-learning methodologies etc. The founders and other educators of these centres have contributed significantly to the national schooling system in various capacities. Individuals involved with Alternative Schools have been very closely associated with the development of changes in educational pedagogy and philosophy in India and have attempted to make it more meaningful to the diverse kinds of children and social conditions that characterize the country.
Much of this has been possible precisely because of the space that was available to develop child/ community specific programmes by these schools.
3 Implications of the RTE Act
3.1 Some Fundamental Issues
In this note we would like to bring to the attention of the concerned Government(s), certain implications and provisions of the RTE Act that could operationally lead to a considerable narrowing down of the space for alternative and innovative education.

We would also like to make some constructive suggestions for modifications/provisions that could be included in the implementation of the Act, which would allow this space for innovation to continue and develop. We believe that this is vital for the renewal and reinvigoration of the constitutional mandate from which the RTE Act draws its strength.

  • At the outset we dwell briefly on some important conceptual issues that are implied in the title of the Act itself, and indicate the need for more flexible space for Alternative Schools.
  • When we speak of a legally binding ‘Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education’ each of the italicised terms raises a number of fundamental issues.
  • The subjects of the Act are intended to be children and the Act enjoins the State to provide all children with appropriate educational opportunities up to the upper primary level. However, since human children are themselves immature and dependent beings, children begin to exercise their ‘right to education’ only through the engagement and choices made by their parents, who are in any case their first (even if inadequate and partial) educators. The RTE Act may thus be seen as, in fact, granting all parents within the Constitutional mandate – and especially those from the weaker sections of society – the right to educate their children.
  • In a just and equitable society the right to educate one’s children should clearly not remain dependent upon the ability to pay for this education. Hence, there is a need for free education to be made available to children at least up to the age of 14 years. However this raises a basic question: in what ways can this free access to education (which is the right of children and parents) also be made compulsory? Should this be a compulsion for a particular ‘standardised ‘type of education, as encapsulated in particular forms of schooling that are deemed by the State as the most desirable?
  • On the contrary, we see the necessity for making available a range of different forms of education and schooling that are consonant with the parents’ (and eventually the child’s) choice and the search for a better quality of life. It should be noted that the advantages of having different curricula have been articulated by the NCF 2005 document.
  • While education may include the processes that go on in a school, it cannot be equated with schooling, and especially with particular forms of schooling that are represented by the majority of the mainstream schools today – government as well as private. Many commentators have critiqued the dark sides of a variety of present-day schools in India, and have sharply demonstrated their negative impact on individual and social well-being (witness the endemic forms of violence on and among children, the ‘push out’ effect, the failure rate, and the suicide rate among students!). The need for educational reform and changing forms of schooling or educational arrangements ought to be a part of the mandate of the RTE Act.
  • Education, as is broadly understood, is a basic human process of development, enculturation, and awakening of individuals and social groups, which in the aggregate has an undeniable impact on the overall development of society. While the State must take a definitive hand in enabling school education, and take the lead in thoughtful articulation of broad directions for a desirable society, it is also evident that in a democratic society, where freedom of thought and expression too are constitutional values, education could and should develop a wide range of evolving aims in consonance with (and at times going beyond) these broad directions. Given the wide diversity of conditions in a country like India, and the range of social and environmental challenges that have been unleashed locally and globally, there is a dire need for breaking new ground and encouraging school education to play an ameliorative role in society.
  • It is here that we see the space for Alternative Schools as a necessary precondition for the State to meet its own wider goals. Educators and schools concerned with holistic education are the seedbeds of ‘research and development’ into educational possibilities and we believe that they will remain deeply relevant not only for the sections of society that they directly serve, but also for catalysing any kind of deeper shifts in aims and processes of government schools and non-governmental mainstream schools of our country.

3.2 Common Ground with the RTE
We welcome RTE and the Government’s concern and intentions to bring about change particularly in the following areas.
•To provide school education to all children – particularly the underprivileged children who have not been able to access educational opportunities for various reasons.

  • To regulate the setting up of schools purely for profit with little commitment to provide quality education as outlined by the NCF 2005.
  • To improve the quality of teaching by insisting upon trained and qualified teachers.
  • To ensure that basic facilities are provided to create a safe and healthy environment for children.

3.3 Some Difficulties with the Requirements of the RTE Act
However, we also anticipate some difficulties for Alternative Schools. The RTE Act expects all schools and learning centres to fulfill certain specified norms in order to get recognition through their local educational authorities. Further, it also states that if schools do not meet these norms within three years, they cannot be granted recognition, and would have to close down. While these measures may be necessary in order to regulate private schools and some NGOs which carry on educational activities of low quality, and which do not do justice to the basic requirements of a decent schooling, they would also place severe constraints on schools and educational centres with serious educational intentions and a good track record.

Three types of anticipated difficulties are described below and some suggestions are given as to how the Government could address these.

There are six requirements (related to building, number of classrooms, access, drinking water, kitchen, toilets, and playground) under item 2 of ‘Norms and Standards for a School’. While agreeing that the physical safety and basic facilities must be provided, given the financial and space constraints under which many of the Alternative Schools have been operating, they may not be able to fulfill each of the above requirements to the letter. For instance, schools functioning in densely populated urban areas may not have the required building space, or access to playground space within their campus. Some educational centres for children in slum areas cannot even dream of all the above facilities; and yet these schools manage to do a commendable job of teaching the young in often difficult circumstances and are committed to taking responsibility to provide open spaces for children within the neighborhood. Similarly, in tribal areas and interior rural villages, it has not always been feasible to create school buildings with classrooms for each teacher, specified under the RTE norms.

Depending on the location and context of the concerned Alternative Schools, it would be appropriate if there were a relaxation of some of the rules related to infrastructure requirements, without compromising on the essential safety and convenience of the children. The details of the specific rules and suitable waivers can be arrived at after inspection. One possible approach is to ask for compliance with criteria that are contextually essential such as drinking water and suitable toilet facilities should, while taking a more flexible approach to certain other criteria such as square footage in dense urban areas; formal playground facilities in tribal schools etc.

Teacher qualifications
The RTE Act requires schools to ensure that their teachers have the necessary qualifications for teaching at the primary and upper primary level. In operational terms this would most likely mean the possession of a D.Ed. or a B.Ed. (or equivalent) certificate from a recognized teacher-training institute. Several alternative schools have a significant proportion of teachers who do not possess these certificates. Some reasons for this are:

  • Dedicated persons without formal education degrees have often initiated these schools.
    Given the historical context of poor quality B.Ed. programmes in most teacher training institutes in India, these schools have also sought to attract and engage bright and otherwise well-qualified persons who show a commitment to the type of education the school intends to sustain.
  • In many cases these schools have evolved their own teacher development programmes and mentoring processes that enable new teachers to develop both educational perspectives as well as ‘on-the-job’ teaching skills to a degree that is often not achieved by the typical B.Ed. graduate.
  • Some alternative schools working with marginalized communities induct motivated, educated youth from these communities, who undergo a rigorous ‘apprentice training’. They often prove to be more successful teachers than regular teachers with formal qualifications, for they relate well with their students and are able to contextualize the curriculum to meet their real learning needs.

The provision of the RTE Act requiring all teachers to gain a teaching certification of the B.Ed. type within five years, would place considerable stress on many Alternative Schools that are currently providing a meaningful education to different sections of society.

It would mean that practicing teachers would either have to be given time off as well as financial support to complete full-time B.Ed. degrees, or else double up their teaching duties with enrolment in distance-learning teacher certification programmes. Since most such schools are small in size and have limited financial resources, this would place an almost unmanageable burden on them.

We suggest flexible means to recognition of teacher competence and qualifications.
We clearly recognize the need for some forms of ‘teacher accreditation’ in order to promote greater professionalization of teachers and discourage semi-literate and under-qualified persons from taking up permanent teacher positions. On the other hand, from the perspective of Alternative Schools, there is currently an urgent need for systemic reforms and capacity building of teacher educators as well as of most of the institutions offering courses of teacher education. This being a difficult and complex task, especially in the face of new demands for larger numbers of teachers, it would be appropriate that the requirement for certification of all teachers be handled with greater flexibility than simply requiring teachers to complete formal qualifications .
We have two provisional suggestions (one long term and the other a short term measure).

  1. 1. Alternative routes to pre-service ‘teacher certification’ for those joining the teaching profession anew:
    • It is suggested that at least some ‘innovative models’ of teacher education, with more effective school-based components, are set up in the coming years. These could aim to draw upon alternative schools and their educators for enriching the learning of student-teachers. Any such courses that are developed and recognized are more likely to attract better candidates into teaching.
    • Some possible models of other training programmes may include:
      • Full-time 2 year B.Eds with a strong internship component, for graduate students.
      • A one-year residential, apprenticeship-based programme, which involves study visits to a few alternative sites.
      • A one or two year distance-cum-contact programme, for those who may gain a certification while working on the job as teachers, with their current work experience serving as an internship component.
  2. Flexible assessment of the competence of existing teachers
    It is suggested that an appropriate regulatory body, designated by the National Council for Teacher Education, be asked to devise, as part of its accreditation process, the following:

    • A scheme for developing teacher profiles of Alternative Schools, which covers teacher competencies using more nuanced parameters than a bare declaration of ‘qualifications’ and ‘years of experience’.
    • A school’s continued accreditation as an Alternative School could, among other things, depend on demonstration of an adequately qualified and experienced teacher body, based on the declared teacher profiles. These teacher profiles may be reviewed periodically by the accrediting authority.

Standardization of curriculum
One attempt of the RTE Act is to ensure an even standard of education for children studying across the country. While the RTE Act appears to state the overall framework within which the curriculum has to work, and advocates a child-friendly, activity-based methodology, in reality the education system in each state prescribes a set of text books which have to be followed and which is what the curriculum is effectively treated as by the educational bureaucracy. While we agree that schooling should ensure that all the children get the necessary language skills, numeracy levels and basic knowledge of science and social studies, too rigid an interpretation of the curriculum and its manner of transaction, would make for an unhealthy standardization and low levels of actual learning. It would cut at the root of genuine efforts at contextualization of the curriculum and innovation in pedagogy.

Probably the major contribution of the Alternative Schools has been the development of curriculum which is meaningful to children and the local community. In particular, they have done this by moving away from Government prescribed text books and either developing their own texts and teaching-learning materials or using more acceptable books. It is not clear whether this flexibility will be permitted by local authorities who have been empowered to regulate schools within the norms of the RTE Act.

We suggest scope for flexibility in curriculum and pedagogy. There needs to be recognition that in order to ensure children are receiving education of a sufficiently good standard, one does not need to use standardized texts or syllabus. The standards can be maintained and results ensured even by using other curricula that are better adapted to the particular situation/setting/target group of students. To insist upon a one-size-fits-all approach would result in a standardization of knowledge, which would compromise on a relevant, meaningful and locally adapted curriculum. It would restrict educators from going beyond and/or adapting the specified curriculum to teach in a relevant and creative manner.

Thus we would strongly recommend continued room for a diversity of approaches to curriculum and pedagogy. Whether basic standards are being met may be evaluated when necessary, by checking the actual learning outcomes of students. (This may be done by a variety of means, in an unobtrusive manner, without the stress and narrowing of focus associated with formal examinations).
4 Further Recommendations for Consideration

1. Continuing and strengthening National Institute of Open Schooling’s Open Basic Education scheme for 6-14 year olds
The RTE Act has very clearly stated that its express purpose is to ensure the education of all children in the age group 6 – 14 years. While the intention of bringing all such children into ‘recognised schools’ may be good in itself, it may also be prudent to sustain and strengthen, in parallel, the Open Basic Education (OBE) scheme of the National Institute of Open Schooling.
In this context it helps to note what the NIOS -OBE scheme has to say about its educational approach:

  • The curriculum is based on the National Curriculum Framework. The subjects taught include academic subjects and vocational subjects. This has been done in order to include for the learners the world of work.
  • Recognition of talents and virtues are also given a place.
  • Sample learning materials have been developed by NIOS, which can be obtained on request.
  • Accredited Agencies may also use state government text books.
  • In case of Vocational subjects the AA’s must inform the NIOS of the vocational subjects so that an appropriate subject code can be generated for the subject by NIOS.
  • If required, the NIOS would help in the development of learning materials for different local specific subjects.

This is the kind of space and flexibility afforded by the NIOS, and which some Alternative Schools have used to develop materials that are specific for communities and to which the communities are able to relate. This has been one of the reasons for their success.

It is suggested that the OBE Scheme could be further strengthened by transforming it into an Open Basic Education Board, which may provide affiliations and conduct examinations after eight years (in short perform functions similar to those of other Central boards like ICSE and CBSE).

The NIOS could also be considered as the body which may accredit Alternative Schools, based on the some flexible criteria that are developed keeping in mind the above considerations, and which are acceptable to the concerned governments.

We believe that a continuation and strengthening of the NIOS OBE scheme would offer many children, who attend Alternative Schools, the possibility of a meaningful education. At a recent meeting of the NIOS, the Education Minister, Shri Kapil Sibal, made the remark that that ‘NIOS should not be seen as a poor alternative but one that challenges existing systems and compels them to change’. This perception should be taken seriously. The NIOS has a well-developed set of criteria for giving accreditation to agencies which take up the OBE scheme for children, and this may be instructive in developing criteria for accrediting all types of alternative schools or learning centres.

One could also keep in mind that NIOS already has regional offices and can monitor such schools with the assistance of the State Resource Centres and Jan Shikshan Sansthans.

2. Establishing a National Council for Alternative Schooling
In order to retain the space for meaningful education in a range of alternative schools, while maintaining probity and quality, a National-level ‘Council for Alternative Schooling’ should be set up to represent the concerns and interests of these schools.

Such a Council could potentially work out a set of criteria and develop an accreditation process that takes into consideration the kind of work that happens in alternative schools, and at the same time clearly eliminates any misuse of this label by schools that intend to function as ‘teaching shops’. These criteria may be developed in consultation with representatives of several such schools. Already there is a network of such schools from the South of India which have been meeting for the last 17 years annually. A detailed list can be drawn up of such initiatives in India by a team if necessary.
In addition these centres could be supported by the Council for the following purposes:

  • to serve as model schools for other government/private schools
  • to contribute to the education system by developing materials
  • to evolve/develop and share better pedagogical methods
  • to provide/support in-service teacher education
  • to contribute to evolving flexible teacher training programmes
  • to act as Educational Resource Centres.

3. Alternative Schools as Educational Resource Centres
While the Act sets some standards in terms of curriculum, teaching methods and a shift to a more child centric approach, to be able to implement these ideals there is a need for capacity building on a very large scale. Alternative Schools, with their experience and knowledge-base, can become Resource Centres that can be accessed to build capacity in the public schooling system.
Alternative Schools have, for long, had these as their core strengths – being able to conceptualize a more locally relevant curriculum, enabling children to learn at their pace and making learning more fun and meaningful through the use of more diverse means than just a text book based pedagogy and in using more continuous and ongoing qualitative assessment system

Government schools in the vicinity of the Alternative schools can be invited/attached to those particular schools and they can be supported as needed by the alternative schools. Similarly some of the DIETs can also consider using these schools in their vicinity to draw on various aspects of the teaching learning processes.

Another possibility is that some institutions running Alternative schools could be invited to take over the responsibility of running existing government school(s) in their region, under the public-private partnership scheme.

WE, concerned educators, therefore request that the above suggestions may please be considered on their merit, and a serious consideration be given by the Government to preserve and nurture the space for Alternative and Innovative Education, as well as to draw upon such educators and organizations towards the betterment of the Indian Education system as a whole.

Appendix A Organisational Affiliation of Petitioners
Vidya Shankar, Relief Foundation, 18, Sriram Nagar, Thiruvanmiyur, Chennai – 600 041, Web: www.relieffoundation.org.in
Vijaya Ramachandran, Apna School (MLP), Jagriti Bal Vikas Samiti, Village Lodhar, Mandhana, Kanpur – 209217, Uttar Pradesh. Ph.: 0512 – 2575559, Cell: 9415307196,
(Vijaya Ramachandra for the Overall Development of Migrant Workers’ Children)
Swami Sarvottamananda, Registrar, Ramakrishna Mission Vivekananda University, Ramakrishna Mission Belur Math West Bengal Ph.: 033-2654-9999, Email:
Keerti Jayaram, Director, Early Literacy Programme, Organisation for Early Literacy Promotion,OELP, C1/4 Safdarjung Development Area (2nd floor), New Delhi 110 016
Aditi S Mathur, Founder, Aarohi (run by Geniekids Learning Resources).No 3023, 8th
Cross, 13th Main (NPS road), HAL 2nd Stage, Bangalore 560008,www.geniekids.com
Ratnesh Mathur, Aarohi (run by Geniekids Learning Resources).No 3023, 8th Cross,
13th Main (NPS road), HAL 2nd Stage, Bangalore 560008, Karnataka . Web:
http://multiworldindia.org/, www.geniekids.com
Jane Sahi, Founder and Director, Sita School, Silvepura, Bangalore North – 560 090.
Ph.: 28466274
Email: jane_sahi@hotmail.com, janehelensahi@gmail.com
Indira, Founder, Poorna Learning Centre, Opp. DPS Bangalore North, Sathnur Village,
Jala Hobli, Bagalur Post, Bangalore – 49, Karnataka. Ph.: 080 – 23438209, Email:
indira502@hotmail.com, Web: www.poorna.in
Nyla Coelho, Taleemnet, No.5, High street, Camp, Belgaum – 590001, Karnataka. Ph.:
0831 2460991, Cell: 09343413193, Email: taleement@gmail.com, Web:
Gurveen Kaur , Founder and Director, Centre for Learning, C-128, AWHO – Ved Vihar,
Subhashnagar, Secunderabad – 500015, Ph : 27790457 (Res), 040 – 65267781 (CFL)
Email: gurveenkaur@rediffmail.com, kaur.gurveen@gmail.com, Web:
Alok Mathur, Teacher, Head, Teacher Development Program, Rishi Valley Education
Centre, Madanapalle, Chittoor district, Andhra Pradesh.
Chandrika Mathur, Teacher, Rishi Valley Education Centre, Madanapalle, Chittoor
district, Andhra Pradesh.
Claude Alvares, Multiversity, G-8, St. Britto’s Apartments, Feira Alta, Mapusa – 403
507, Goa. Ph. 0832 2263305, Cell: 09552995186, Email: goafoundation@gmail.com,
Web: www.multiworldindia.org
B. Ramdas, Founder,Vidyodaya School, Gudalur, The Nilgiris District, Andhra Pradesh.
Ph.: 04262 – 261927 (Sc), 04262 – 261026 (R), Fax: 04262 – 261504, Email:
vbvtgudalur@gmail.com, bramrama@gmail.com
A Space for Alternate Schools Page: 14 of 18
Ramgopal Koneripalli, Teacher, Centre For Learning, Secunderabad,
Rama Sastry, founder, Vidyodaya School, Gudalur, The Nilgiris District, Tamilnadu
M. C. Malathi, founder Vikassana, Doddakalasandra P.O, Bangalore – 560 062,
Ph.: 28435356, Cell: 9449347042, Email: malavikasana@yahoo.co.in
Subbalakshmi Surumpudi, Mentor, Board Member, Anand Bharathi, 12-13-1173, St.
No. 10, Taranaka, Secunderabad – 500 017, Ph.: 040- 27019315, 27017700
Dr. P. Krishna, Secretary, Rajghat Education Centre, Rajghat Fort, Varanasi-221001,
Uttar Pradesh. web: kfirural.org
Dr. A. Kumaraswamy, Secretary, Rishi Valley Education Centre, Rishi Valley, Chittoor
District, Andhra Pradesh. 517352, web: www.rishivalley.org
Dr. Radhika Herzberger, Director, Rishi Valley Education Centre, Chittoor District –
517352, Andhra Pradesh. Web: www.rishivalley.org
Anuradha and Krishna, Thulir Learning Centre, Sitttilingi Vill., Theerthamalai PO,
Dharmapuri District- 636906, Tamilnadu. Ph.: 04346 – 299043 / 299197,
Email:thulir@gmail.com, anukrish65@yahoo.co.uk, web: www.thulir. Org
Sr Cyril, Loreto School, Kolkatta
Dr. S.N.Gananath, 40, II Main, ‘H’ Block, Ramakrishna Nagar, Mysore – 570 022,
Santosh Padmanabhan, ASHA for Education, A 1214, Komerla Bridge, Bangalore
560061, Karnataka, www.runnershigh.in, www.ashanet.org/bangalore
Prabal K. Maiti, Jagriti Bal Vikas samithi, Lodhar, PO Mandhana, Kanpur – 209 217
Priya Nanesh, Trustee, Samanvaya Knowledge Trust, G4, H104, Sukhsagar
Apartments, 3rd Seaward Road, Valmiki nagar, Tiruvanmayur, Chennai – 600 041, Ph:
044-24403839, Cell: 9444405466, Email: priya@samanvaya.com, Web:
www.samanvay a.com/KnowledgeT rust/
Brij Chawla, 164/C/50, Lake Gardens, Kolkata 700045, Ph.: 033 24226625/24226553,
Cell: 9433259464, Email: bbc108@yahoo.com
Shibumi, Bangalore
Rohit Dhankar, Digantar, Jaipur
Society for Integrated Development of Himalayas (SIDH), Mussorie, Uttarakhand
A Space for Alternate Schools Page: 15 of 18
Appendix BContribution of Petitioners to
Educational Change
B.1 Policy Level
Rohit Dhankar, Digantar
•Participation in deliberations and drafting of National Curriculum Framework, 2005
Shailesh Shirali, Rishi Valley School, KFI
•Participation in deliberation of NCF 2005
•Initiator of India’s participation in International Mathematics Olympiads
Gurveen Kaur, Centre for Learning, Secunderabad
•Member, Focus Group on Aims of Education, NCF 2005
B.2 Teacher Education
Sister Cyril, Loreto
•Barefoot Activity-Based Teacher Training Programme, catering to rural and urban teachers of non-formal schools in Bengal and neighbouring states
Jane Sahi, Sita School
Faculty member, M.A. in Elementary Education Programme, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai
Alok Mathur, Rishi Valley Education Centre
•Participation in drafting revised two-year B.Ed. syllabus for the Regional Institutes of Education, NCERT
•Faculty member, M.A. in Elementary Education Programme, TISS
Gurveen Kaur, Centre for Learning, Secunderabad
•Workshop on NCF 2005 for senior staff in Education Departments, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Chhatisgarh, Jharkhand, conducted by Administrative Staff College of India
Kamala Mukunda, Centre for Learning, Bangalore
•Author of new psychology text for teachers, What Did You Ask in School Today?
B.3 Innovative Curriculum, Textbooks and Teaching
Learning Methodologies
Padmanabha Rao and Rama Rao, Rishi Valley Education Centre
•Creators of ‘School in a Box’ primary school programme
S. Gananath, Suvidya
•Creator of mathematics kits. Established maths labs in Karanataka schools
Pawan Gupta, SIDH
•Curriculum and school level texts based on local context of the Himalayas
Geeta Iyer, ex-teacher and school head, Sahayadri School
•Author of new textbook on Secondary School Environment Education
Keerti Jayaram, Early Literacy Project
•Developed Varna-Samooha method of teaching early literacy
Jane Sahi, Sita School,Banglaore
•Author of Everyday English series, meant primarily for children in rural schools
B.4 Improvement of Government Schools
Rishi Valley Rural Education Centre
•Originators of concept behind ABL primary school programme of Tamil Nadu government and Nalli Kalli programme of Karnataka. Provided initial and continued teacher training for Tamil Nadu and several other states.
Rama and Ramdas, Vidyodaya School
•Teacher training for SSA teachers in Gudalur, Tamil Nadu
•Empowerment of teachers in government schools in Rajasthan and other states
The School, KFI, Chennai
•Working with Tamil Nadu government on teacher training and methodology for upper primary and secondary schools.
Gurveen Kaur, CFL, Secunderabad
•Worked with MV Foundation to orient government school teachers to social science, mathematics and science teaching.
Indira, Poorna Learning Centre
•Consultant for District Quality Education Programme, Chamrajnagar. Created several teacher training modules on language teaching for teachers of government schools, including those working with tribal children. Was part of planning a small study on perceptions of tribal community about the use of tribal languages in schools.
Keerti Jayaram
•Conducted Early Literacy Project (ELP) in schools of the Municipal Corporation of
Delhi. At present conducting ELP in night schools for working children in Ajmer District, Rajasthan.


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