“Engaging with the movers and shakers of the sector varies depending on the geography and, more importantly, on the political hierarchy one is dealing with.”
It is unfortunate that the words ‘government’ and ‘relations’ taken in conjunction commonly inspire perceptions of inaccessibility and hopelessness. Navigating this diplomatic tightrope may be a skill perfected by a blend of tact and credibility, but real-time experience goes a long way too.
While ivory-towered optimism is always eclipsed by the realities on ground, I don’t think starting off with that attitude is necessarily a bad thing, as long as expectations driven by that passion is managed well. I speak from personal experience when I offer this caveat, because for all the policies that are in place to ensure good practises, the execution phase can be very challenging.
I moved to Bihar in 2015 – following years of spearheading a pilot program of Quest Alliance to deliver quality education to schools in India. Monikered Anandshala, the project has been aiming at bringing about large scale systematic reform at the district level, starting from a small hamlet called Samastipur.
Continue reading “Lessons learnt in Government Relations”
How Bal Sansad, or child parliaments, enable students to find their voices
“The PM has a budget for the nation. Why don’t we have a budget for the school?” – Bal Sansad Student, MS Dalsinghsarai, Samastipur District, Bihar
With non-cognitive skills such as critical reasoning and the ability to engage in meaningful debates becoming ever-more important in a fast changing job market, enabling young people to articulate questions such as these is crucial.
The idea of Bal Sansad (or ‘Child Parliaments’) within government elementary schools is not new. A model United Nations program has been running internationally since the mid twentieth century, while the Indian government first proposed the idea of Child Parliaments almost twenty years ago. In practice, its implementation has been sporadic and inconsistent. In Bihar, where Quest Alliance run the Anandshala program in the Samastipur district, interventions to enliven the Bal Sansad Child Parliaments date back to 2012.
Continue reading “By students, for students”
Technology can only solve problems in the education sector once you actually know what those problems are. Quest Alliance’s Executive Director Aakash Sethi writes about how meaningful engagement with end-users has led to Ed-tech innovations which have brought about real changes in the Indian context.
Everyone’s excited about using technology to bring about positive changes in the education sector. So excited, in fact, that all too often you see technology coming before the problem. There is a notion that ‘I want to use technology’, and that in doing that, I’ll definitely solve a problem or two.
Continue reading “Tech Over: 5 Lessons Learned”
As Quest’s State Head in Biar, Amitav Nath has been instrumental in the development and implementation of Anandshala, a program which works closely with the district education system to create stronger relationships between students, teachers and parents. Here he shares his insights on partnership, and working within existing government frameworks.
Working on Quest Alliance’s Anandshala (literally translated: joyful schools) program in Bihar, our job is to define the theory of change for the program. Our team ensures that the design strategy functions on the ground, and works out how plans get translated into action at the field level. One very important aspect to achieve this is making sure that the program is institutionalized by the district through advocacy.
Continue reading “Anandshala: Working Within the System”