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Wipro Applying Thought in Schools (WATIS)

Context

The challenges in school education in India could be broadly classified as issues of access and quality, with equity being a cross-cutting concern. There have been significant strides made in the matter of access. While there are still pockets in many parts of the country where schools are not available, the majority of the population today has access to public schools. However, inadequate staffing and other resources in the schools remains an areas of concern. A large number of children continue to stay out of school droping out after enrollment. Rote learning is still a predominant feature of our education system. While on the one hand, classroom and lessons disconnected from the child’s life and context alienate the child from learning with understanding, the focus on attaining higher grades pushes out holistic development of the child as an educational aim. Affluent parents invest significant amount of personal resources to provide education for their children. Inadequate resources and capacities in public schools (and low fee paying private schools), where a large majority of the children study, add to a growing inequity in the educational system. These and our other concerns in School Education are articulated in a document titled “Our Concerns on School Education”. The multitude and complexity of these issues make for slow progress in education being an effective instrument of human development and social change.

There have been many efforts at the Centre and the States in the areas of policy, legislation and curricular and examination reforms in education. Civil society organizations have been working consistently on the ground to improve access and quality. All these efforts have led to many changes and improvement in education. The National Curricular Framework 2005 recognizes holistic development of the child, learning with understanding and connecting the learning to the lives and contexts of the children as some of the key tenets of education. Right to Education Act 2009 made elementary education a right of all children up to the age of 14. However, effective implementation of these policies and reforms requires systemic capacities across all levels in the education system.

Overview of Our Work

Wipro Applying Thought in Schools was setup in early 2000s to work towards addressing these issues in education. These issues are complex and systemic and require deliberate, long term and sustained efforts. We believe that civil society organizations have an important role to play in bringing about such an educational transformation. Our core strategy has therefore been to develop capacities in civil society organizations to work towards education reform in a systemic manner.

Over the past 14 years, we have associated with 60 organizations at different levels and worked closely with 35 organizations. We have worked with 69 organizations at different levels of engagement. We have supported 51 organizations through 113 projects involving over 16,000 schools and around 19,000 educators across 19 states so far.

Approach

We work in partnership with civil society organizations in the following ways:

Our support to organizations typically span a period of three years and may be extended further, based on the need and potential. We involve closely in the work by staying in touch with our partners and the field, through visits, review meetings and calls, and by participating in key decisions. At the end of the support period, a comprehensive review is carried out along with the partner, where the need and potential is assessed and a decision is taken about further support.