MI Monday | Extra-curricular learning time to boost attendance

Welcome to MI Monday I Week 13

The way that the school day and week is organised is critical in giving children the maximum opportunity to learn and develop:

  • The school year in India is only about 140 days, and each school day often lasts  for around 5 hours. By contrast, children in most developed countries spend between 180 and 200 days in school, with longer school days of 6 to 8 hours (JPAL, 2010).
  • Supplemental education can help to bridge this gap and is especially useful for  helping children catch up. One programme in Bihar, for instance, led by volunteers using materials provided by Pratham led to significant improvements in reading and maths scores for children in grades 3 -5 (JPAL 2009).

Furthermore, too often the focus of the school day is on finishing the syllabus, rather than focusing on using the time to teach children according to their need.The approaches below demonstrate new ways of organizing school-activity that could have dramatic effects on learning outcomes.

Today’s micro-innovation showcases an effort by a teacher to organise school day for boosting student attendance and interest in learning.

Problem statement

Reena, a principal in one of the low-income school in Delhi,  saw that the short length of the school day and pressure to complete the curriculum meant that little time was available for students to participate in creative or sporting activities, both of which are important for their overall development. In addition, she was concerned about student attendance and wanted a means of making students want to be at school.

Micro-innovation description

The micro-innovation Reena designed to overcome this challenge involved the lengthening of  the school day. By adding an extra half hour slot at the end of each school day, Reena was able to  create time and space for unique activities without compromising on the school focus on the  core curriculum. Students don’t know which activity they will participate in at the end of each day, which adds an element of surprise, and generates additional interest in coming to school. Activities such as sports (karate), games including carrom and chess, and library time, are  rotated. The value of the innovation is its contribution to the holistic development of the child  whilst increasing both students’ enjoyment of school and the time available for learning.

Why interesting

The micro-innovation is interesting because it seeks to address the current situation where the number of hours a typical Indian child spends at school is often only 4 hours long, in comparison with a typical day of 6-8 hours in developed countries, and recognises the need to create an enjoyable environment at school if attendance is to increase.

Potential implementation challenges

There may be significant resource challenges to providing extra-curricular activities. Schools should be careful to provide activities that children are actually interested in and to ensure that  girls and boys benefit equally. The school should be clear about their aims for the introduction of activities before developing their provision.

Impact so far (according to teacher)

Reena has seen attendance increased and discipline improve markedly. Children are now excited to be in school.

Download the implementation guide for Extra Learning Time to Boost Attendance.

STIR Education

STIR Education

STIR is a UK based charity working in developing countries ( India and Africa) to improve quality of school education by working with teachers in the poorest schools in the region.

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