An avid advocate for the principles of equality, inclusion as well as social equity, Samina Bano is a policy entrepreneur who is driving sustainable and institutional changes via public-policy interventions. She is aiming to transform low-income households into sustainable ones.
Samina is working to make accessible public welfare programs through advocacy for policy and the unlocking of public funds. Her mission is deeply embedded into the programs offered by RightWalk Foundation, an organization that she founded in the year 2017 located in Uttar Pradesh. Prior to that, she founded Bharat Abhyudaya Foundation. The foundation was focused on improving educational outcomes in the government and supported schools across the country.
The policy entrepreneur started her career in the field of policy with the work she did on the section 12(1)(c) of the Right to Education Act (RTE). The Act stipulates that private non-aided schools have to reserve 25% of all enrollment in classes at entry-level for children who are from economically weaker classes and groups with a lower level of.
RightWalk Foundation worked on policy reforms, as well as on the ground to make sure the effective implementation of RTE in the state.
Our action with RTE within Uttar Pradesh brought a historical change that affected and mainstreamed more than the course of 4,70,000 marginalised children in 75 districts and 16,000 schools in just seven months, Samina tells Business Headers
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For 2020, Samina Foundation formulated an additional program to implement the apprenticeship Act 1961, which was passed in Uttar Pradesh. Samina believes that the effective application of this Act will help address the issue of youth unemployment and quickly create an educated workforce for the sector through combining study with work-based training and the payment of. In just 1.5 years of working on the Act her organization claims that it has obtained Rs 100 crore of public funds to fund the apprenticeship program.
Understanding the educational system
Samina quit a lucrative consulting career to her native US in 2012 to engage extensively in the policy and development sector. Inspiring by the desire to ensure that education is accessible for children of lower socio-economic background, she decided to investigate the RTE Act in detail.
A deep examination of the Act and the educational structure in this country made her to realize that the inclusion of students with low incomes in private schools can help to challenge the social structure and create economic equality. She discovered the section 12(1)(c) of the RTE to be an effective instrument that allows children from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds to be in classes in schools that are private.
While the Constitution has given guidelines to states regarding an inclusive education for children, these have not been implemented in a timely manner.
Problems with RTE implementation
Samina’s analysis and research revealed she found that Uttar Pradesh had a dismal track record when it came to its implementation of RTE school policy for private institutions. A fair implementation of the policy was difficult because of various obstacles, including a the lack of political will, insufficient administrative machinery and powerful alliance of private schools who were against policies that would reform RTE.
Samina has decided to implement policy reforms that are under RTE within the State of Uttar Pradesh. She said that prior to 2017 the admissions process under RTE were conducted through the offline method that limited the impact that the program could have. There were numerous logistical issues. For example, students were required to get to the block offices to the submission of documents. This process frequently discouraged prospective applicants from seeking admission.
Following a thorough comparison study of the RTE portals of different states RightWalk Foundation assisted the District Education Office in developing the state’s RTE online portal in the year. The foundation joined forces in collaboration with The Government of Uttar Pradesh to create a technologically-enabled integrated RTE online admissions system, in conjunction in conjunction with the National Informatics Centre.
While the effective implementation of RTE guarantees that children from the economically weaker section are accepted into private schools, this admission isn’t a guarantee of educational opportunities or equal chances for all. Children in these areas require assistance to comprehend the various academic concepts and subjects. Many parents do not have the resources to help their children’s education. Private tuition is expensive and not accessible to these families.
To close the gap and to ensure continuous learning beyond school hours RightWalk Foundation launched a post-admission learning program for students enrolled in schools that are part of RTE.
As part of the program Digital learning support was offered to children who live at home with the help of PRADIGI the app-based learning app.
The foundation also initiated the foundation also launched theproject called FABLE to offer academic assistance to help students learn after school. The program provides assistance with education to 250 students from economically marginalized sections, who are who are admitted to the program under RTE 12 (1)(c) and have access to online learning assistance after school to enhance their retention and learn.
We are also in the process of developing an RTE app which will aid parents better be aware of social inclusion, regularly child monitoring, and communities that support their livelihoods, says Samina.
Fight against resistance
One of the most difficult challenges that the foundation was a intense court battle against the lobby of private schools that was opposed to the introduction section 12(1)(c) in RTE. The foundation won the fight and was led by Samina. Her efforts led to important policy changes in the RTE Act in Uttar Pradesh.
The rollercoaster ride of convincing the officials and holding multiple training sessions was rewarded and we were able to establish an unbeatable relationship together with government officials from the Government of Uttar Pradesh, providing support as an organization for project management, says the entrepreneur.
Implications of initiatives
The collaboration that has been formed with government officials from the UP government has proved to be extremely productive and has nearly 4,70,000 children from economically disadvantaged sections of the state into 16,000 private schools throughout the state over the past seven years.
The foundation’s ongoing efforts resulted in the release of more than 350 crore in public funds to fund RTE Act. RTE Act, which was given to the general public in the form financial aid as well as the reimbursement of private schools. A single rupee used by RightWalk has uncovered the equivalent of Rs 100 in public funds to be distributed to welfare programs.
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The foundation’s team works closely with private school teachers and teaches them on inclusive pedagogical strategies to enable an easy integration for children coming from marginalized classes in different classrooms. The foundation has taught more than 2000 educators in 12 districts in UP working in conjunction together with UNICEF along with the state’s government. It is working on an inclusive curriculum that will be available on the internet to help more teachers.
RightWalk Foundation gets its funds through institutional donations. The foundation’s patrons comprise Nudge Acceleratorand Veddis Foundation.
Plans for the future
In the coming five years the foundation will be working to implement five policies focused on livelihood, education and health.
We hope to reach 10 million people by giving particular attention to girls and those with disabilities, says Samina.