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Dropout Kids Are Back in Varanasi Schools After ‘Bulava’ By IAS Officer

IAS Himanshu Nagpal launched 'Bulava Abhiyan,' to address low attendance rates in 150 struggling schools Within 14 days, the campaign resulted in a remarkable 16% increase in attendance in underscoring schools Based on successful models, activities like morning assembly, teachers’ punctuality, home visits by teachers, PTMs, etc., were made compulsory
Indian Masterminds Stories

In order to improve school attendance and enhance foundational literacy and numeracy skills among children, 2019 batch IAS officer Himanshu Nagpal, who is the Chief Development Officer of Varanasi, spearheaded a transformative campaign known as the ‘Bulava Abhiyan.’ This initiative was launched on August 9 and will run until September 9 of this year, with the goal of addressing low attendance rates in certain schools within the district.

Speaking exclusively with Indian Masterminds, Mr. Nagpal shared about the growth in school attendance that the district is currently experiencing.

BULAVA ABHIYAN

Prior to the campaign’s commencement, Varanasi had fourth-place ranking for school attendance at the state level. It soon became evident that some schools were struggling with alarmingly low attendance rates, which subsequently affected the overall learning outcome of the students. Recognizing the direct correlation between attendance and academic achievement, Mr. Nagpal initiated the ‘Bulava Abhiyan’ to bring about a positive change.

SCHOOLS MONITORED

To kickstart the initiative, the district administration collected attendance from all schools in Varanasi through a Google form in the last week of July this year. The analysis revealed that schools with low attendance also reported poor learning outcomes. A list of 150 schools with the lowest attendance percentages was identified.

“Under my guidance, these schools were closely monitored through a control room that supported their efforts to boost attendance and improve the overall educational environment,” Mr. Nagpal said.

KPIs

One of the key strategies employed by the campaign was to adopt successful practices from high-performing schools and apply them to the underperforming ones. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) were developed based on successful models, encompassing activities such as morning assemblies, punctuality of teachers, home visits by teachers accompanied by local Panchayat representatives, Parent-Teacher Meetings (PTMs), sharing student progress reports with parents, and creating WhatsApp groups to maintain regular communication with parents regarding their child’s performance.

BEFORE ABHIYAN

Before the campaign’s launch, the average attendance across the 150 identified schools stood at 56.00%. However, after just 14 days of the ‘Bulava Abhiyan,’ there was a notable improvement. For instance, Pvt. Ramrepur, Arazi Lines, which previously had an attendance rate of 55%, witnessed a remarkable increase, bringing the average attendance to 96.27%. Across the board, the average attendance in these schools climbed to 75%, with some schools exceeding 90%. Consequently, the names of these high-performing schools were removed from the monitoring list.

The overall average attendance for the 150 selected schools, which initially stood at 56.00%, significantly improved to 72.61% by August 20, 2023. This data underscores the success of the ‘Bulava Abhiyan,’ which resulted in a remarkable 16% increase in attendance within a mere 14 days.

The officer further informed that this mechanism would continue after month also. Monitoring would start with:

  1. Weekly checking of the attendance and Activities of schools
  2. Behaviour changing mechanisms to bring about a behaviour change in the parents
  3. Monthly appreciation of good Performances of principals and teachers

“Such activities they have to be done till a point that it becomes a part of the culture and ethos of the school,” he added.

BRIDGING OF GAP

Mr. Himanshu Nagpal, the driving force behind the initiative, expressed his satisfaction with the initial outcomes. “We have received very positive and promising results as of now,” he said. He also emphasized the importance of bridging the gap between parents and education, noting that many parents fail to recognize the value of education. Therefore, it falls upon the administration to actively engage with parents, emphasizing the significance of education and its direct impact on functional literacy and numeracy.

“We have already suspended 2 principals who were not taking this seriously and their kids were dropping out,” Mr. Nagpal informed.

By bolstering school attendance, the officer aims to cultivate a culture of learning, foster peer interactions and, ultimately, elevate the educational landscape for its children.

In its relentless pursuit to enhance educational outcomes, the ‘Bulava Abhiyan’ has not only boosted school attendance but also reignited hope for improved learning achievements in Varanasi. This proactive approach exemplifies the transformative potential of dedicated individuals like Mr. Nagpal in making a lasting impact on the future of education in their communities.


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