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Pathbreaking Initiative to Improve Children’s Learning at Scale
New Delhi: The results released for the Haryana Early Literacy Development Impact Bond (DIB): A Pay-for-Success model show significantly improved learning outcomes in 164,000 children of 3,300 primary classes in government schools, despite the COVID-19 pandemic. At the end of the three-year project (2019-22), children in intervention schools could fluently read at 42.4 words per minute (which meets the Global Minimum Proficiency standards), while children in non-intervention schools could read only 30.3 words per minute.
This meets the rallying call for improvement in education given by Prime Minister Narender Modi while addressing the conclave on ‘School Education in the 21st Century’ under the NEP2020. He said, “It must be ensured that every child who crosses the third grade can easily read 30 to 35 words in a minute.”
This is the first CSR-funded Development Impact Bond (DIB). DIB is an outcome-based investment instrument that involves four parties: an Outcome Funder, a Risk Guarantor, Service Provider (Implementation partner), and an Outcome evaluator.
This ₹15.57 crore DIB was for the first time ever in education bonds supported by CSR funding with IndusInd Bank and SBI Foundation the Outcome Funders. The outcome-focused innovative financing model linked payouts to targets achieved in children's learning outcomes. “Since the Haryana Development Bond was the first ever CSR-supported Bond, we are very proud to be a part of it. I hope other corporates are also encouraged to participate in more such bonds.” Roopa Satish, Country Head Sustainable Banking and CSR, IndusInd Bank.
Sanjay Prakash, MD & CEO, SBI Foundation says, "The Prarambhik Bhasha Shikhshan Karyakram program in Haryana has a dynamic and innovative design that strengthens the capacity of existing stakeholders and works in tandem with government systems. Their solutions are adaptable and scalable. This, in addition to the CSR-supported bond, gave us confidence in the project's abilities to deliver on its commitments."
The Risk Guarantor for the DIB was Central Square Foundation (CSF). Says Shaveta Sharma-Kukreja, CEO and MD, CSF, “Valuable insights from this DIB can be mainstreamed and adopted by the government at scale."
The DIB Service Provider (Implementation Partner) was Language and Learning Foundation (LLF) in close partnership with Government of Haryana. LLF is a system-focused and impact-driven organization working towards improving the Foundational Literacy and Numeracy (FLN) outcomes of children. Dr. Dhir Jhingran, a former education secretary of the government of India and Founder-Director, LLF says, “We think this impact bond will be a trendsetter for much larger outcome-based funding in education programs. The results have shown that it is possible to improve student learning outcomes at scale in a short time by collaborating with state governments, so we hope this is a harbinger of many such programs. We are very excited to be part of the journey of promoting outcome-based funding and impact education in India.”
The outcome evaluation shows outstanding results. Educational Initiatives (EI) was the Outcome Evaluator. Ritesh Aggarwal, Vice President, Ei Shiksha says “While only 25 percent of students at baseline were able to read sentences and words, at the endline almost 80 percent were able to read sentences and words. This shows the promise and potential of the model when it almost means 1.6 years of additional schooling. We would like to wish LLF the best in scaling their journey and achieving the FLN mission in India."
While the first year of the DIB enjoyed a clear runway, the greatest challenge in implementation came in the second year in the form of COVID-19. Though education elsewhere shifted online, a stark reality was the digital divide since only about 40-50 percent of the children had access to smartphones.
Showing flexibility and nimbleness, LLF reimagined the classroom approach to a community (mohalla) and household level kicking off the innovative Har Ghar School program. Community-based volunteers were trained and mentored and equipped with resources to teach in small groups following COVID-19 protocols. Additionally, learning was also delivered directly through WhatsApp groups on a platform powered by Rocket Learning (App) for children with mobile phone access. Each student received the printed workbook on literacy and the guiding handouts for the parents.
Vrinda Swarup, Former Secretary, Ministry of Education says, “This DIB exemplifies a successful government-NGO partnership to usher academic reforms in the system and increase foundational literacy outcomes in children.”
After the successful results of the DIB, the Government of Haryana is currently scaling up the program state-wide to all 22 districts. Dr. Pramod Kumar, State Program Officer (Directorate Elementary Education) and Nodal Officer, NIPUN Haryana Mission says, “The DIB program has built a base to implement the NIPUN Haryana mission across all 22 districts in Haryana. The state has adopted best practices like continuous professional development of teachers and BRP/ABRCs and providing learning material to teachers and students under FLN Mission. “
One such child to benefit from this DIB was shy and diffident Mahi, a grade one student Sunderpur, Haryana, who struggled to read. Through the assessment strategy of LLF, her teacher identified areas that needed improvement and worked on them. This strategy brought a miracle and Mahi blossomed into a fluent reader after three years, reading at over 70 words per minute, which exceeds the Global Minimum Proficiency (GMP) standards for reading.
About Language and Learning Foundation (LLF)
Language and Learning Foundation (LLF) is a system-focused and impact-driven organization working towards improving the Foundational Literacy and Numeracy (FLN) outcomes of children in India since 2015. We are committed to reducing the learning crisis in India by working in close collaboration with state governments. Our programs incorporate a strong emphasis on the inclusion of children’s home language.
HARYANA EARLY LITERACY DIB: A PAY-FOR-SUCCESS MODEL | OVERVIEW
Duration: 3 years (2019-22)
Beneficiaries: 164,000 students in 3,300 government schools in seven districts of Haryana
Districts: Ambala, Fatehabad, Hisar, Jind, Kurukshetra, Sirsa, and Yamunanagar
Investment size: ₹ 15.57 crore
Outcome Funders: IndusInd Bank, SBI Foundation
Risk Guarantor: Central Square Foundation (CSF)
Service Provider: Language and Learning Foundation (LLF) in close association with Govt. of Haryana
Outcome Evaluator: Educational Initiatives (EI)
DIB Convenor: Social Finance India (SFI)