The Sikshana model is built around several core beliefs and concepts, a few of which are:
- The solution doesn’t lie in improving the state of a few schools or a few children studying in them. Rather, it rests in evolving a sustainable model, which will lend itself to replication on a larger scale.
- The sole focus and beneficiary of all efforts has to be the child. The child’s interests have to be served—even if his or her parents, or community, do not have the ability and wherewithal to meet the objective.
- Decisions regarding programme resources must be based solely on how effectively they enhance learning levels of children. All proposals for expenditure should be strictly judged against this criterion. Low cost, innovative ideas should be encouraged.
- Most of the management concepts applied in other sectors are equally valid in the educational sector. It should be possible to set quantifiable and measurable targets for the performance of the schools; resources could be released and deployed commensurate with these objectives and the use of the ‘return on investment index’ should be encouraged.
- Non-fiscal/ quasi-fiscal measures such as motivation, training and low cost environmental upgrades enhance academic performance and a child’s receptivity to academic inputs. Accordingly, co-curricular activities such as library sessions, fine arts meets, educational tours should be actively encouraged.
According to our studies, a child needs three vital resources for advancement: adequate nutrition, optimal space (so as to better concentrate on the inputs being received) and a dedicated teacher exclusively available for the benefit of the group to which he or she belongs.
The first two points have been addressed by the government. The requirement for adequate nutrition has largely been covered by the mid-day meal programme and the Sarva Siksha Abhiyan scheme has made significant contributions to infrastructure.
Regarding the third: whenever there is a serious shortage of teachers, the Sikshana Initiative provides funds to induct and deploy volunteer-teachers on a provisional basis, until a permanent solution is found.