This research is conducted, focusing on the quality of alternative education programs of Saath in Juhapura, Behrampura and Vasna in Ahmedabad, India. The centers of Saath are located in three completely different research areas, however, these areas have in common that most children living there do not attend schools. They are either child laborers or taking care of siblings. Hence, the Child Friendly Spaces (CFS) of Saath educates the children in the basic skills and knowledge required for everyday life and tries to equip them with the capabilities to change their own lives and creating opportunities for change.
Education is important for several reasons: improving skills, knowledge and competencies, overcoming economic and social inequalities, enhancing productivity, and gaining access to information. Towards equity in education, global frameworks are set and national policy makers work on implementation of strategies into education to reach the goals determined for education provision and deliverance to children regardless of race, ethnicity, disability, gender, sexual orientation, language, socio-economic status, and any other aspect of an individual’s identity that might be perceived as different.
In India, education was a privilege for the higher valued children that changed after the independence in 1947. Education became available for all children and in 2002, the Indian government even defined it as a fundamental right for children between the ages of 6 and 14 years old. Nevertheless, they are challenged to deliver access to good quality education for all these children, and still many children are out of school. In supplementing, the government provided formal education, non-governmental organizations stand up and provide alternative non-formal forms of education to enlarge the access to learning facilities. However, the education needs to be of proper quality to enhance the equity. The following primary research question is put central throughout the complete research process:
What measures can be taken to improve the education quality in Child Friendly Spaces (CFS) of Non-Governmental Organisation Saath located in the selected areas of Vasna, Behrampura and Juhapura?
Concerning an extensive literature study, more questions than answers arose. The additional sub-research questions elaborate on key elements of education quality and the expectations of the key stakeholders:
1) What are the expectations of the main stakeholders on the quality of education in the CFS?
2) What curriculum is implemented in the CFS of Saath?
3) What teaching components are used in the CFS of Saath?
4) What learning components are used in the CFS of Saath?
The quality of education in the CFS is assessing according to a conceptual model that drafts quality in three key elements: learning, teaching and curriculum.
The expectation of the different stakeholders varies in content and conceptual level. Most of the respondents assess education quality as the variation in activities provided in the learning process. The most striking analysis regarding education quality is that there is gap between the organizational level of Saath and the implementation of the program by teachers in the areas. Due to several challenges and a limitation in experience, skills and knowledge, the quality implemented is less than the organization envisions. From the observations, similar conclusions can be drawn. The quality of teaching is less that envisioned due to a lack of experiences and means. A curriculum is not present in the centers and teachers decide what is taught, thus used methods and given content are mostly limited in variation. Regarding learning, the main conclusion is that children are not properly motivated in their home environments and therefore the willingness to be education is low. Awareness of the importance of education would be beneficial for the society to stimulate parents to send their children and motivate children to get educated.
An analysis of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of Saath’s CFS offers a number of measures that can taken to improve the overall quality of education. The three main measures recommended are investing in teacher training and professionalization, creating and implementing a curriculum and collaborating with communities for example builder organizations.||