Pratham Open School of Education
Bichhiwara, Rajasthan
Sponsored By:

1. Executive Summary
Started in 2011, Pratham Open School of Education (POSE) has grown both in scale and substance. With an enrollment of just about 300 girls in 2011, the program has grown to cover over 3,000 young girls and women in the 2014-15 academic year through 31 centres located across 8 states.
The POSE initiative started with the Second Chance program aimed at helping young girls and women in rural areas complete their secondary schooling. The challenges being faced by these young women were three-fold: low learning levels, capacity bottlenecks and socio-cultural barriers. In order to try and address the problem in a holistic manner, the Second Chance model was established. The aim of the model was to use innovative teaching methods and to provide education at the doorstep, in an environment that was acceptable to the key stakeholders of the program.
Second Chanceaims to give women who have dropped out of school, another chance to finish their secondary education by giving the 10th standard exam.The other major objectives of the program are to teach these women soft skills like presentation ability, conversational skills, self-confidence and English speaking (as permitted by resources and local conditions) to increase their confidence and enhance employability.
The Dhingra Family Foundation’s funds were used to support a POSE hub center in Bicchiwara in the Dungarpur district of Rajasthan. This report gives an overview of what has happened in the Bichhiwara center in the period from April 2014 to March 2015.
2. Results, 2013-14
The students enrolled with POSE for the academic year 2013-14 appeared for their board exams in April 2014. Those students who did not clear the exam in their first attempt inApril 2014, appeared for the exam again in the month of October and many of them were able to pass in this attempt. Given below is the overall result, taking into account the results of the exams held in October:
PFC Enrollment Appeared for Exam Passed Pass Percentage
Bichhiwara 133 126 86 68.25%
Rajasthan 721 665 447 67.22%
The results of 2013-14 for Rajasthan and for all POSE centers have been very encouraging. After the results for the round of exams held in October were declared, the pass percentage for the Bichhiwara center increased to 68% (from 58%) and for Rajasthan as a whole, it increased to 67% (from 57%).This is a significant jump in the pass percentage, especially whencompared to the result for 2012-13 wherethe initial pass percentage for Rajasthan was only 4% and after the results for the October round were declared, it increased to 42%.
3. Enrolment, 2014-15
The Bichhiwara center in Rajasthan saw a healthy enrolment of students for the 2014-15 batch of the Second Chance program, as can be seen from the following table:
FC Enrolment PFC Enrolment
Bichhiwara 187 148
(All 6 centers) 930 844
Out of the 148 students that moved on to the Post Foundation Course,131 students are currently appearing for the final board examination. Pratham hopes to ensure a large pass percentage in the board examination in order to transform from dream to reality the thought of successfully completing their secondary education for as many students as possible.
4. Timeline of activities
Foundation Course
After mobilisation activities were completed, the Foundation Course (FC) officially started in April, 2014. The Foundation Course is aimed at bridging the gap between basic concepts and secondary school curriculum and so it helps to refresh students’ knowledge and also helps to prepare the dropout students for the main course. It is, in essence, a preparatory course which is aimed at teaching the very basics of reading, writing and comprehension. The course also focuses on strengthening the basic mathematical abilities of students and building an effective understanding of fundamental scientific concepts.
The results of the FC Pre Test (conducted at the start of the course) and the FC Post Test (conducted at the end of the Foundation Course) for the Bichhiwara center are as follows:
As can be seen from the graphs above, more than 50% students scored less than 25% marks in the FC Pre Test in both English and Home Science, but in the FC Post Test, this number fell to 8% and 11% respectively for these 2 subjects and many students started scoring more than 50% marks. Given that these are dropout students who are just re-entering mainstream education, this is a significant jump in their learning.
For Language and Mathematics, the FC Pre Test was conducted using the ASER tool to test the students’ basic reading and arithmetic abilities. The Post Test however, was conducted using a paper based test and the results show that in Language (Hindi) 55% students scored marks in the range of 50-75% and 3% students scored above 75% marks. Mathematics has always been seen as a difficult subject by students, but even so the lowest quartile had only 14% students at the time of the FC Post Test.
Post Foundation Course
The Post Foundation Coursestarted in September 2014 with 148 students, in which the formal Std X curriculum was taught to students in order to prepare them for the board exams.
Along with the regular studies, a Library Program was implemented with the Second Chance students in the Bichhiwara center. Under this program, students at the center started a small library program in their own villages, near their homes, for about 15 to 20 children in the 6 to 14 years age group. The Second Chance students were given books to take with them and they encouraged children in their villages to come for an hour everyday to their ‘library’ and read story books. This program was conducted for about 35 to 40 days from mid-December to the first week of February 2015.32 such libraries were run by 104 POSE students across 24 villages in Bichhiwara and benefited around 560 children.
During this period, the process of conducting Mock Tests for students also started. These Mock Tests are designed on the lines of the final Board Examination, both in terms of the questions that students are tested on, as well as having a formal exam environment. The first round of Mock Tests was taken in January 2015 and a second round was conducted in February 2015.
The results of these Mock Tests are as follows:
The graph above shows the pass percentages of students in different subjects. The reason for more students passing in Mock Test 1 is because the first Mock Test covers only the curriculum that has been completed till January. As students learn more and the final exams draw closer, the rigour of the Mock Tests increase and the second Mock Test is usually more difficult.
The final board examination under NIOS (National Institute of Open Schooling) started in March 2015 with the practical exams. Students are currently appearing for the theory exams which are scheduled to finish on 29th April.
5. Way Forward
In addition to the core Second Chance program, Pratham also plans to introduce new initiatives in order to have a greater and longer term impact.
• The Foundation Course in the Second Chance program is a preparatory course which is aimed at teaching the very basics of reading, writing and comprehension. A component of ‘Life Skills’ is being added to the coursefrom the coming academic year 2015-16 with an aim to enhance soft skills and build the confidence of students enrolled in the program. The Life Skills module mostly focuses on topics such as self-introduction, enhancing communication skills, comprehension skills, newspaper reading, map reading, understanding statistical graphs etc. and leads the participants to subtler skills like team-work, decision-making and critical thinking.
A central training on Life Skills was conducted for the State Resource Group persons (SRGs) in Mumbai in March and these trained SRGs will subsequently conduct state level trainings for the faculty and tutors in their respective states. The Life Skills training for Rajasthan has been scheduled from 2nd to 4th May, 2015, after which, the content training for the rest of the subjects for the Foundation Course will be conducted.
• Another step towards having larger long term impact is by leveraging the vast network of women who have gone through the Second Chance program in previous years. As we continue working with around 100 new women at each location year after year, it is imperative to think of what happens to them after the year-long intervention is over. An attempt was made to track the learners from the 2013-14 batch across all the POSE centers. A survey was conducted a few months after students appeared for the Board Examination to find out what were they doing. Over 90% of the students were tracked. It was found that approximately 40% of these women were pursuing higher studies either by enrolling in Grade 11 or preparing to take the Grade 12 examination through open schooling. Although this was encouraging, it was also found that only 11% of these women had found productive employment and a substantial 30% were at home with no occupation.
Pratham thus plans to bring together all these women as part of an Alumni Association with an objective to enhance opportunities of learning and employment for past learners. Building a community of support and learning for these girls and others like them is essential to ensuring sustained impact of the program. A strong alumni association with focused activities will help support the girls beyond the Grade 10 exam, in pursuing opportunities both academic and non-academic. Additionally, the alumni will also participate in the induction of new girls in the program every year, in parent meetings held in the community and share opportunities and success stories with other learners, both past and present.
6. Conclusion
As Pratham gains more experience in the space of secondary education, the impact of the Second Chance program has been seen to increase in terms of both quantity and quality. With the third batch of Second Chance students appearing for their board exams, it is an exciting time for Pratham to be involved in the process of providing to dropout students the crucial opportunity of completing their secondary education.
We are grateful for the Dhingra Family Foundation’s faith in Pratham and seek your continued support to the Second Chance center in Bicchiwara in the Dungarpur district of Rajasthan for the coming academic year 2015-16.
7. Case Study
Payal Rawal lives in Gamdi Ahada village in Bichhiwara with her parents and four siblings. Her father works as a daily wage earner and has studied only till Std VIII. Payal passed Std V from a primary school in her village and even though there was an upper primary school in the vicinity, she had to discontinue her studies because of the poor economic condition of her family. In order to alleviate the family’s financial situation, Payal started working as a maid in other people’s houses in her village. This was in the year 2009.
Payal had resigned herself to this life till 5 years later, in February 2014, two tutors from Pratham’s Second Chance center visited her house as a part of the mobilization process for the Pratham Open School of Education (POSE) program. That is when Payal realised that all was not lost and she could still study and complete her education. However, her father was completely opposed to this idea. After repeated visits from Pratham team members and many rounds of discussions, Payal’s father relented and gave her permission to enrol herself at the Bichhiwara center. Payal’s excitement knew no bounds, but having a 5 year gap in her studies posed a significant challenge. She had trouble reading Hindi and even in recognizing numbers. But she worked hard and by the end of the Foundation Course, she became a fluent Hindi reader and was able to successfully solve simple arithmetic sums.
Now, after a year of rigorous preparation, Payal says that she is confident of passing the Std X board examination. She plans to pursue further studies and aims to get a good job so that she can support her father financially and also help her younger siblings with their studies. We wish Payal all the best for all her future endeavours.

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