The Shiksha Samabal progam was launched by Hindustan Zinc Limited in 2008 with the objective to increase pass percentage of board class students. The program focused on the schools located around six core operational areas of HZL mines. Initially visualized to improve Science and Mathematics teaching by providing teachers for extra-classes, it soon had to cater to the other more pressing needs of the schools. The first few years of the project highlighted the magnitude of administrative and academic issues in the government school ranging from a serious shortage of teachers to lack of even basic amenities, furniture for students, labs and other resources. The problem was compounded in higher classes, where subject-specific teachers are needed but, sufficient number of teachers was not available to teach classes 11th and 12th. The learning levels of children suffered as a result. The project placed instructors in the schools to meet the teacher shortage but it was seen that finding qualified and capable people was a challenge. The instructors also found it difficult to deal with the gaps in students’ learning, accumulated over the years. There was a realization that board-exam results could not be improved merely by providing extra-classes for two-three months and a more intensive and varied approach was required.
Vidya Bhawan Society stepped into the Shiksha Sambal program in April, 2016 to develop strategies to meet the academic demands. Straightaway, it was realized that work with students had to be throughout the year and not limited to a few months before the exam. Further, it was not enough to place instructors in the school; work was also needed on other learning enablers such as libraries and books; science-kits; exposure to alternative learning environments and methods; and periods of intensive engagement and inputs. This meant that a dedicated team of instructors was required in each subject, at each location, as per the number of schools. In addition, this instructor team needed continuous academic guidance and monitoring by a core VB team with the support of HZL.