Can Schools' Accountability for Learning Be Strengthened from the Grassroots: Investigating the Potential for Community-school Partnerships in India, 2018-2022


Data have been generated as part of an ESRC-funded research project that investigates the potential of community-school partnerships in raising government school children’s learning in rural India. This longitudinal study covers three rounds of in-person surveys and one round of phone survey, which took place during the Covid-19 pandemic. The sample was selected from children attending government schools in primary grades 2, 3, and 4 who had not achieved foundational literacy at the time of the survey. In addition to measuring children’s foundational literacy and numeracy (in all in-person survey rounds), information was collected on each selected child’s household as well as on the schools attended by these children. The baseline survey was conducted between October 2018 and January 2019, and the survey was done for the following units at the baseline: Child, Household, School, Head Teacher, Teacher, and Classroom observations. Similarly, the midline data (i.e., the second survey round) was collected between November 2019 and March 2020. Due to the pandemic, we tracked the sampled children’s households and teachers through a phone survey during the period of school closures (from October – November 2021) to capture the status of education-related activities. The final survey (from December 2021 – January 2022) only collected information on the sample children’s enrolment status and their learning levels after the pandemic.Our project explores the potential of community-based accountability relationships to raise children's foundational learning outcomes, with a focus on the most disadvantaged primary-school learners: namely those who are from poorer households and, within these, girls. We ask both whether and how changes occur when school actors are supported to view their accountability as being primarily to their local community and their goal as being to raise all children's learning. To do this, we evaluate a grassroots intervention that supports school actors to work directly with their communities to develop a shared understanding of children's learning levels, collaborate in planning how to raise them, and facilitate action both inside and outside the classroom. In addition to analysing changes in children's learning, we examine the intervention's capacity to create changes in school-community relations, teachers' attitudes perceptions, and actions in the classroom. The intervention builds on two of Pratham's grassroots literacy campaigns to incorporate school-community accountability relationships. Lakhon Mein Ek (LME) was primarily an information campaign, supporting communities to undertake and discuss their own independent assessments of children's learning outcomes. Reading Week (RW) provided community volunteers with packages of simple materials with which to work with children to improve their foundational literacy and numeracy skills. The proposed intervention seeks to enhance the impact of these previous interventions by working directly with school actors to help them engage and work with their local communities.

The study was conducted in 400 villages in Sitapur district in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, India. The methodological design of the study was a randomized control trial. The sample villages were randomly divided into three groups - 100 villages allocated for the community-level intervention (i.e., first treatment), 200 villages for the community-school level intervention (i.e., second treatment), and 100 villages assigned to a control group. The sampled villages were selected such that each sampled village had at least two government primary schools. The sampling of children attending schools within these villages was done as follows. Children were given a foundational learning test - the ASER test developed by the Pratham Education Foundation - to measure their foundational literacy and numeracy levels. 30 children were randomly selected, 10 each from grades 2, 3, and 4, from among those who were below the Story level in their reading assessment. Each sampled child’s household was surveyed by taking information from the main caregiver of the household. All the sampled schools (general school information, infrastructure and facilities, and teachers) were surveyed by taking information from the school head teacher (or other teachers). Teachers teaching Hindi subject to grades 2, 3, and 4 were also surveyed. We tracked the sampled children’s households and teachers through a phone survey (by contacting their phone/mobile numbers) during the Covid-19 pandemic to capture the children’s and teachers’ education-related activities during school closures.

Metadata Access
Creator Sabates, R, University of Cambridge; Bhattacharjea, S, Pratham Education Foundation; Rose, P, University of Cambridge; Wadhwa, W, Pratham Education Foundation; Alcott, B, University College London; Banerji, R, Pratham Education Foundation
Publisher UK Data Service
Publication Year 2023
Funding Reference Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC); Mars Wrigley Company Foundation
Rights Centre ASER, Pratham Educational Foundation. Faculty of Education REAL Centre,, University of Cambridge; The Data Collection is available for download to users registered with the UK Data Service.
OpenAccess true
Language English
Resource Type Numeric
Discipline Social Sciences
Spatial Coverage Sitapur, Uttar Pradesh; India