In 2016, SEF collaborated with the Department of School Education, Kashmir, to launch ‘Taleem’ as a pilot project in select government schools in rural Kashmir. ‘Taleem’ was designed as a School Transformation Project, and the model worked to transform two critical elements in government schools – instructional leadership and school leadership. The project was designed to build structures that empower teachers and school leaders to take ownership of improving academic outcomes and re-imagine what teaching and learning can look like for their students. We realized that the public education system is the best platform for us to implement this model, since it opens up opportunities for systemic transformation. With that in mind, we began work with 20 teachers and 10 Headmasters of selected government schools in Srinagar & Bandipore district, in April 2016.In September 2016, Kashmir witnessed continuous violence that escalated to a two month long curfew in most parts of the state. Even after the curfew was lifted, most parts of Kashmir are still gripped in violence and fear. As a result, students and schools suffer the most, as conflict continues to reign over the lives of people in the valley. Amidst the turmoil, our access and training with our Taleem teachers was also impacted. However, we were determined to continue our work with the government teachers, and collaborated with Sarva Siksha Abhiyaan (SSA), to design & implement teacher training modules for Master Trainers across the state. This unique opportunity gave us valuable insights to the existing teacher development programs run by SSA, and how they could be modified and transformed for more impact. These workshops with SSA are also critical access points for us to work closely with as many teachers, so as to strengthen their development as leaders of change on the ground.
We continue to work with the SSA team based in Jammu & Kashmir, to constantly evolve and refresh these training modules beyond the workshop sessions, and extend our support to monitoring and implementation on the ground. These trainers in turn impact nearly 80,000 teachers across the state. These modules are designed to strengthen learning institutions from within, as opposed to building parallel systems for external support. It is designed to transform existing resources in schools as potential leverage points for growth.