Going beyond text books: Tata Trusts’ endeavor towards an enriched education system

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Mumbai, 10th November 2016:   Every year, a large number of students drop out of school worldwide. A significant number of them do not reach their potential and suffer in poverty, as they face unemployment or underemployment.

Every third Indian is a child below the age of 14 (Census 2011) and with Children’s Day coming up on 14 November, we wish to draw attention to issues that affect children’s development and wellbeing. Education is THE most important and strongest weapon that can empower and uplift. However, just the guarantee of access to quality education is not enough for a child. It takes more than a physical building (school) and tools (blackboard and text books) to keep a child in school and interested in education.  Schools that are unable to provide education beyond text books i.e. engaging teaching-learning materials, sports facilities, dedicated and skilled teachers, access to literature, safe environments, life skills education, to name a few are at the threat of losing children out of the education system and children not reaching their potential. There are multiple studies that state girls drop out of schools due to lack of safe toilets as they start menstruating. Teacher shortage, inadequate investment in building cadre of competent and motivated teachers that can deal with diverse classrooms, lack of investment in Early Childhood Education are important features contributing to low learning levels. Tata Trusts espouses a strong belief in the holistic development of children. In addition to ensuring access to pre-school  and elementary education along with academic inputs, Tata Trusts also strives to ensure that nutrition, personal hygiene (water and sanitation) and physical development is given equal importance. Our commitment includes some of the key interventions in children-related development:


Educational Interventions by Tata Trusts: Tata Trusts aims to improve the learning levels of children at schools through a 3 pronged approach:

Overall goal of the Education portfolio is to improve access of 10 lakh children and adolescents to quality education, while addressing concerns of equity, through enhanced learning levels and opportunities. This entails working towards children achieving grade appropriate learning levels, developing 21st Century skills. The Trusts’ work through Regional Initiatives addresses educational needs in 40 blocks as part of multi-thematic interventions to enhance quality of life. Educational needs from pre-schools to high-schools are addressed by working with children, teachers and schools, along with systems strengthening and community participation.

  1. Technology in Education:


  • Integrated approach to Technology in Education (ITE) is an initiative of the Tata Trusts in twelve, mostly rural locations, in Eastern and Northern India. This approach is a pedagogical framework to improve teaching and learning processes and foster authentic and project based learning for older children and adolescents in some of the most underprivileged geographies. Students, mostly first time computer users, create learning artifacts like weather charts, graphical representation of jute production in India or chart population density in different cities, to deepen their learning of content. All the projects assigned are carefully selected by the teachers and match with the curriculum and lessons taught in the school. The initiative also encompasses skilling of teachers to use technology as part of the curriculum so they may be better equipped to guide students in incorporating technology in education

Apart from TPACK (Technology, Pedagogy, and Content Knowledge), model, the initiative has been guided by International Standards for Technology in Education (ISTE) for assessment procedures, and 21st century skills model which highlights skills such as collaborative, communication, authentic learning, critical thinking, and digital citizenship along with subject matter competence.

  • Scratch: Tata Trusts has introduced the Scratch application – a project of the Lifelong Kindergarten Group at the MIT Media Lab – students can program their own interactive stories, games, and animations — and share own creations with others in the online community. Scratch helps young people learn to think creatively, reason systematically, and work collaboratively — essential skills for life in the 21st century.


After successfully testing it during summer camps we encouraged teachers to implement scratch in their classes. Teachers created lesson plan for scratch projects integrating curriculum. For example there is a lesson in English text book of class VII on desert. Teacher create a lesson plan where students will have to reflect different types of deserts, its characteristics, types of animal and plants available in deserts.


  • Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA), Pune: Tata Trusts created a dynamic centre which designs toys from trash in collaboration with IUCAA. To facilitate quality in teaching and learning of Science education through workshops, capacity building and resource creation, Tata Trusts have been supporting Muktangan Vigyan Shodhika (MVS), IUCAA’s Children’s Science Centre, since inception. 7650 short films of low cost science toys have crossed 50 Million viewership on youtube.

  1. Creating an open source environment:


  • CLIx (Connected Learning Initiative): Focused on identifying and addressing critical gaps in India’s education sector, Tata Trusts initiated ‘The Connected Learning Initiative-X’ (CLIx) to enable penetration into the current education systems. With the purpose of creating a platform through which valuable and powerful educational opportunities could impact the life prospects of youths, CLIx reaches out to 1000+ schools in rural India in 4 states with significant diversity. Connected Learning Initiative-X (CLIx) leverages ICT to provide students access to engaging, interactive, hands-on learning experiences and information for the development of knowledge and practical skills.

o   CLIx is integrated with the school curriculum to maximize the benefit for students and teachers.

o   The platform helps create an open ecosystem to foster collaboration across schools.

o   CLIx leverages existing tools & technologies such as visualization, simulation techniques, video tutorials, open educational platforms (MOOCs), and carefully select existing Open Educational Resources.

o   CLIx also provides opportunities to students and teachers to co-create content and enrich learning experience.

  • Khan Academy: Tata Trusts and Khan Academy have partnered to work towards delivering interactive, supplemental and supportive resources for students and teachers to strengthen the existing curriculum. Preliminary field trials of the content that has been translated into Hindi are being carried out in five semi-rural locations, spanning Rajasthan, Jharkhand and UP.

  • Computer Aided Learning Program: This program is implemented in 40 high schools (Grade 8-10) in Yadgir, Karnataka. The programme involves computer aided learning and web based curricular resource usage of “Open Source” education materials such as ‘geogebra’, ‘marbel’, ‘free mind’, etc. Teachers are trained on using web-based curricular resources during classroom transactions and provide conceptual clarity.

  • Parag: The initiative supports development, dissemination and use of children’s books in Indian languages to promote reading for pleasure among children. Setting up school and community based libraries, strengthening children’s section in public libraries, use of technology for reading promotion, are some of the ways through which Parag widens reach of literature in Indian languages for children. First of kind professional development course for librarians, , teachers and other practitioners who work with children and books has been launched along with year long blended course for young, talented kids. The Parag Initiative of Tata Trusts in partnership with LiteratureLive! The Mumbai Litfest launched the Big Little Book Award that will recognize and award significant contribution to children’s literature by an author and an illustrator.

  1. Systems strengthening:


The Trusts’ strategy on teacher education focusing on setting up and expanding high-quality pre-service and in-service teacher education programmes and setting up online platform for teacher professional development.

  • Schooling and Learning Improvement Program (SLIP): The Program is consolidating learnings across projects in Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Bihar, Assam, West Bengal and Chhattisgarh. More than 400 learning centres across these six states have been providing a conducive learning atmosphere to first generation learners through remedial education support, libraries and co-curricular activities. During the reporting quarter, learning levels of more than 60,000 students have been directly impacted, taking the cumulative number above 1,00,000.


  • Tejas: Tata Trusts in partnership with Government of Maharashtra and British Council launched TEJAS, aimed to play an enabling role in the holistic development of 18,000 participating teachers across Maharashtra. The programme provides a framework that enables the professional development of teachers. Within this framework, the mechanism for the support and monitoring of teacher activities during the pilot phase aims to improve the capabilities of the state machinery. Institutionalisation of the different elements to enable independent.

Sports Interventions by Tata Trusts – Tata Trusts’ overall objective is to use sports as a catalyst for development by raising aspirations, improving health outcomes and strengthening the education and overall development of children in marginalized communities


Tata Trusts in collaboration with the Sarva Siksha Abhiyaan Mission, and Aizawl Football Club (AFC), has created 60 grassroots academies in Mizoram with the purpose of developing training modules of global standard, assist in scouting talent and sourcing credible football coaches from overseas through integrated learning programs.  The program currently covers 3000 boys and girls in the age group of 8-14 to be part of the Mizoram football academy. Tata Trusts in partnership with UDream Football aims to establish multiple Centres of Excellence which will be a focused unit designed to aid the development of professional players. The programme also builds linkages with the feeder programs to Bundesliga, initially with the Hoffenhein team in Germany. It will search for talent at the grassroots level and help in training them at the Centre of Excellence. The impact of the program can be measured with schools reporting better attendance and greater engagement, laying the foundation for an intervention that promises long term results.

The Tata Hockey Academy, a partnership between Tata Trusts, Bovelander Hockey Academy, One Million Hockey Legs, Netherlands and Collectives for the Integrated Livelihood Initiatives (CInI) aims to help in creating the necessary institutional structure to nurture Indian talent for Hockey Leagues and International Tournaments. The academy will reach out to 50,000 school boys and girls and targets generating 200 high quality players at the end of a three-year period.

Water, Sanitation & Hygiene (WaSH) Interventions by Tata Trusts


The school environment has a significant impact on learning and cognitive abilities of children. One of the components of a school environment is access to clean toilets for boys and girls and safe drinking water facilities. These facilities play an important role in retention of school children and more so retention of girls who attain puberty and are compelled to drop out of school due to lack of proper, clean and hygienic toilet facilities. Hygiene education is an integral part of the curriculum of the school and is aimed at inculcating hygiene habits and behaviours amongst children at an early age. This is done extensively across schools with children in Gujarat, Uttarakhand, Jharkhand and Odisha; and it is envisaged that children can be ambassadors and change agents within their communities and influence adults for adopting hygienic behaviours.

One of Tata Water Mission’s (TWM) key strategies is to mobilize resources for hardware components of the drinking water and sanitation infrastructure, through mainstream schemes being implemented by the state government. Tata Trusts’ WASH program is spread across 85 Centres, 4 Districts, benefiting 7000 children in 65 primary schools, 20 preprimary schools and anganwadis in Uttarakhand. In Jharkhand, there has been an overall increase in children using toilets in schools and washing their hands before and after (100%).  Over 85% attendance of children in schools due to other factors especially relating to teachers’ engagement with children but also including access to water and clean toilets. In Gujarat, with drinking water interventions in around 400 villages across the project areas (household level tap connections), the school dropout rates have been significantly reduced for girl students.

The Tata Water Mission is working on technology interventions in the water and sanitation sector to provide safe water & improved sanitation services to rural and urban communities and so also to ensure sustainability of these interventions. The Technologies that are being worked on considering local requirements, context specific issues, economically viable and cultural acceptable. These technologies are being tested with a view to take up market-based solution through self-sustainable approach.