Tuesday, 27 May 2014

RPA Training 2014 - Aurangabad - The First Batch!

 Last year, with our expansion in Phase 2, our team also grew significantly – primarily with respect to our field staff, or Regional Programme Associates. In June, 2013 we held a training for our RPAs in two batches, which was attended by the entire team - the Central Team, State-level Programme Managers and Master Trainings and, of course, the RPAs.

The training, held in our Pratham’s Pilani Training Centre in Rajasthan, focused on inducting the RPAs into the programme, understanding the organisation and the programme, discussing their roles and responsibilities and laying the foundation of the work they will be doing,

Now, almost one year later, we once again held national-level training for RPAs – this time at our Aurangabad Centre. The first batch of RPA training was held between the 19th and 21st of May and was attended by a total of 26 RPAs from Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Telangana, and Himachal Pradesh.

Since the team has been hard at work over the last one year, the focus of the training has understandably changed. This time, the training was more aimed at giving local teams a national perspective of the ongoings of the programme; fostering inter-state communication, sharing and learning; and understanding the RPAs’ changing roles and road ahead. A brief summary of the various days of training is provided below.

Day 1

During the Communication Activity
We started off Day 1 by some ‘Getting to Know Each Other’ sessions, since new team members had joined at the State and Central level, and also not all team members knew each other. This was only the begging, and by the end strong friendships were made between States.
After a fun and interesting activity on Effective Communication (we will give more details about this session after all RPA trainings are complete!), we moved to a project update. The aim of this session was to give all team members a view of what is going on with the programme at the National level – information which team members in the field don’t always have access to. We also discussed new initiative and plans for moving forward as a programme.

Subsequently we had a great discussion and brainstorming on the changing nature of their roles in which the RPAs themselves took the lead. This continued into the next session where RPAs shared their successes and challenges in the field, which really showed the common threads of experience which can be found across the country.

Day 2
Each team set up galleries to showcase their State, as well as provide a presentation of the status of the programme in their States. Team members walked around the presentation area and learned about the programme in each State. Each Team really put in a lot of effort and the outcome was a pleasure to see. A special treat was that all the teams also showed us the local dance from their States.

A.P. and Telangana team, with Maharashtra and Karnataka
Himachal Pradesh

After the relatively light morning, we moved into some more focused sessions starting with a focus on lesson planning. Lesson planning is an important support role played by RPAs, additionally it is a role where we want to further the skill levels of RPAs. We had some great interactive sessions on Lesson Planning and working with Teachers.

Another aspect of the programme we are keen to develop is the identifying and promoting of micro innovations at the local school-teacher level. This is another aspect we covered during day 2.

Finally, we ended the day with a session on Classroom Observations. Classroom observations are an important component in the monitoring, evaluating and reporting side of the programme. We wanted to go over the observation process, tools etc. and clarify any doubts RPAs had with this.
Day 3
On the last day of training the whole team visited the famous Ellora Caves, which sits just outside the city of Aurangabad, and is only 10 minutes from our training centre. Despite the heat in the day, the caves were a fascinating site, and it was a great team getaway.
The Ellora Caves
Guide gives the team a background
The team at Cave No. 16

Upon returning to the centre, and after a brief break to recuperate, we dived into a session on using the data we collect from our schools, to understand their performance better. After discussing how to use and analyse data at the per-school level, we also demonstrated the insights we gain at the national level through the data collected.

Planning for their schools
Finally, we spent time in reflecting and planning for the days and months ahead. RPAs planned their work and set goals for each of their schools.

With some final team-building activities, we ended the training. The environment throughout training had been great, and filled with a lot of positive energy. Team members from the various States had been excited to meet and interact with one another. There were mixed feelings at the end, both happiness to return home, and sadness at the end of a fun training, and having to bid new friends farewell.

We now look forward to the next two batches of RPA training, which we hope will be as successful as this one. They will be held at the end of June and will cover our remaining States, i.e. Assam, Bihar, Delhi, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, and we will be sure to keep you updated with information and pictures!