TSWRS- Kondapur is a boys-only residential school, with over 640 students from grade 5 to 12. Most of the students are first-generation learners from rural areas and have low academic outcomes compared to their urban peers. The current school leader, Mr N. Balaswamy, had been part of the ISLI City Fellowship Programme in the 2015-17 cohort when he was the in-charge principal of another school, TSWRS- Hathnoora. He was promoted to full-time principal in May and had taken charge of TSWRS Kondapur since July 2016.
Mr Balaswamy was having a difficult time, since the students were not well behaved, not interested in studies, and were largely irresponsible. He believed that the fundamental reason for their poor behaviour was that they were first generation children, coming from low-income socioeconomic and rural backgrounds.
There were multiple challenges for the school leader when he took charge. The sanitation was abysmal in the dormitories and dining hall, and, in general, maintenance of cleanliness was a very big issue in the school. The teachers and students didn’t feel any sense of accountability on this issue. Part of the reason was the maladministration and the lack of supervision.
Due to this, the teachers’ motivation was so low, that this school was one of the very few schools in the entire society where study hours were not conducted either in the morning or evening.
Under such circumstances, the school leader prioritised addressing the most pressing issues of sanitation and study hours, by actively involving the existing student council.
ISLI’s intervention Year 1 & Year 2
After being part of the ISLI City Fellowship for the last one year, the school leader had identified and proven that the following was the key to making students responsible and accountable:
- Consistently demonstrating high expectations during his interactions with the teachers and students
- Nurturing student leadership and persistent follow up with the students
Balaswamy was quick to adopt his learning from the first year of fellowship and prioritised taking student council into confidence.
Through school walkthroughs, ISLI helped Mr Balaswamy identify the issues that needed immediate attention in his school and helped him take several initiatives to address his problems.
- He built a strong and effective student council. He further discussed ways to improve sanitation and assigned clear responsibilities to each of the council members.
- All the class leaders were assigned the responsibility of taking student attendance during the study hours- both in the morning and in the evening.
- The School Leader led by example by ensuring that he was present in the school on time for the morning assembly as well as the study hours, to ensure the punctual presence of the staff and students for the same.
- He reached out to the local Sarpanch and MLA to seek their support in tackling issues related to sanitation, such as fixing an overflowing drainage.
Overall impact of the initiatives
The student council of the school pointed out that this is the first time in the last three years that they have had regular study hours. All the teachers are now coming to school on time and conducting study hours, both in the morning as well as evening. The assembly is also conducted every day on time, as per the structure prescribed by the society.
Mr Balaswamy’s confidence has grown immensely after his experience of working closely with the student council and it is reflected in his communication with his students now. Our Programme Manager noticed the student council leaders specifying several times the difference in the school administration before and after Mr Balaswamy took charge.