Background: An effective school monitoring system is critical for the improvement of education. However, evolving socio-economic and policy contexts require the constant revision of monitoring systems. In response to the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act and challenges in education, the Orissa Department of School and Mass Education (DoSME) developed an innovative school monitoring system in November 2010. The scheme, called Samiksha, involves continuous monitoring of nearly all government elementary schools, analysis of monitor reports, and interventions directed at improving school quality. Samiksha‟s 80 indicators, which represent the inputs and processes for determining the outcomes in a model school, are divided into five categories: School Environment, Curricular Program, Co-curricular Program, School-Community Link and School Management.

Purpose of Report: The novelty of Samiksha means that there is much uncertainty around how the system is functioning in actuality. The purpose of this report is to address these knowledge gaps by providing documentation that examines lessons learned from the initial performance of Samiksha. The analysis is based on semi-structured interviews conducted with Samiksha‟s key stakeholders, including government officials and school actors, in 32 schools across four districts.

Progress: During the first six months of Samiksha‟s implementation, 29 out of 30 districts have improved their overall score. Most stakeholders have become more aware of school improvement processes and accountable in performing their duties and responsibilities. Additionally, Samiksha has enhanced the systematization of the school improvement process and has allowed the DoSME to track school progress across the five categories. The individual motivation of stakeholders has played an important role in the effective use of available resources and the successful implementation of Samiksha.

On the other hand, although the standardized monitoring format has facilitated the collection and analysis of data, the subjectivity of some indicators continues to present challenges to consistent and uniform monitoring. Limited capacity of some monitors and lack of awareness among most School Management Committee (SMC) members and some teachers jeopardizes the long-term sustainability and institutionalization of the system. Furthermore, administrative issues such as teacher shortage and the socio-economic conditions of the surrounding community may affect the capacity of schools to improve. These factors explain part of the variations in schools within and across districts.

Lessons Learned: The following lessons learned apply both specifically to the implementation of Samiksha in Orissa and more broadly to the use of monitoring systems in India and in other contexts:

  • A school monitoring system is an essential way forward in the implementation of the norms and standards of the RTE Act.
  • Broad scope, frequency and regularity are essential features of an effective school monitoring system.
  • Raising the awareness and capacity of all stakeholders is critical for a successful and sustainable school monitoring system.
  • An integrated school improvement and monitoring approach is crucial for an effective school monitoring system.

Potential Application: To ensure the successful implementation of the RTE norms and standards, other states may consider adopting a large-scale monitoring system like Samiksha. Such a system could be beneficial to every state if adapted to the local context to account for the baseline conditions of the school system and variable socio-economic and demographic characteristics.

Next Steps: The following next steps should guide the DoSME‟s future implementation of Samiksha:

  • Increase awareness about Samiksha among stakeholders
  • Improve capacity of monitors
  • Ensure proper monitoring
  • Develop stronger and more systematic information and feedback flows
  • Revise Samiksha continuously to ensure the ongoing improvement of schools

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