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Prajayatna: The Citizens' Initiative on Elementary Education (CIEE)

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Prajayatna: The Citizens' Initiative on Elementary Education (CIEE) was launched by a group of concerned citizens who came together and formulated a charter demanding reform in the elementary educational system in Karnataka, India. Facilitated by the local development and training organisation Movement for Alternatives and Youth Awareness (MAYA), this is a participatory, citizen-driven effort to ensure that each child's basic human right to quality and relevant education is secured - toward fulfillment of the goal of universal primary education in India.
Communication Strategies: 

Prajayatna is based on the notion that active participation of children, parents, elected officials, teachers, civil society groups, members of community-level collectives, and others is crucial in fostering community control over and management of education at the local level. This type of active involvement in a collaborative local process is thought to be crucial in addressing a perceived lack of accountability and transparency within Karnataka's educational system.

Advocacy is the key strategy, and is expressed through a variety of communication modes. For example, the Citizens' Report is envisioned as a periodic exercise carried out through a participatory process that is designed to create a sustainable linkage between the formal educational mechanism and the people at large. These reports provide both statistical and qualitative information. Similarly, Taluk reports generated from ongoing activities of Prajayatna are collated and consolidated to form district reports which contain information on the status of education, problem areas in the school and other relevant information so that people can develop an understanding of how the educational system works and determine their educational priorities. These reports are shared with officials of the educational department, local schools, and members of the Panchayati Raj institutions.

Information and communication technologies (ICTs) are used to disseminate these reports, as well as to provide details about and access to other aspects of Prajayatna's work, such as a film which captures the "Shikshana Grama Sabha". This is a process initiated by Prajayatna to elicit people's participation in the educational system. In these community meetings (500 or so of which have been conducted to date), participants share information generated through the School Information Campaign. This Campaign has led to the creation of a comprehensive primary database of all government schools in the 6 districts of Karnataka where Prajayatna works. It is part of Prajayatna's strategy for enabling people to identify issues facing the school, to make informed decisions, and to take action regarding educational resources and plans. The film outlines the impact Shikshana Grama Sabhas have had - e.g., spurring the formation of over 300 Citizens' Action Groups that are designed to foster follow-up on local-level decisions towards educational reform. The film also aims to illustrate that this method for increasing interaction between communities and institutions of local self-governance can be applicable beyond the realm of education, to address other developmental issues.

Development Issues: 

Education, Rights.

Key Points: 

According to MAYA, there are over 48,000 government-run elementary-level educational institutions in Karnataka. Here, MAYA claims, only 62.4% of the total child population attends school (meaning that 3.8 million children are out of school). Eighty-five percent of these schools have 2 rooms or fewer (of these schools, 38% have 50 children and 41% have 100 children enrolled), and 89% schools have 2 or fewer teachers. Only 36% of the schools in Karnataka have playgrounds which are in a usable condition; only 23.94% of the schools have drinking water; and only 4.57% have toilet facilities.

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