The best of us in 2021
2021 again, like the last one ensured that we - stay agile, keep listening, learn fast, keep innovating, collaborate more; to have the lights of learning ON for our children studying in the government schools of Punjab.
These tough times have only reinforced the importance of a community that cares. Our modus operandi to solve challenges has been to bring people together who share a common purpose, create a space where everyone can learn and collaborate with each other, to take themselves and others towards a common vision.
This process has been extremely powerful as it enabled to cultivate trust and a sense of responsibility in each one. Sharing below some glimpses of such powerful moments that your support made possible in 2021.
This year started off with our Young Leaders (YLs) in Fatehgarh Sahib and Patiala continuing to cultivate the feeling of “Pind da School, Pind da Maan” in every community they visited. Over 2500 people were brought together to work towards making the schools of their village better.
Along with this, we conducted monthly academic meetings for over 500 teachers of government primary schools of rural Patiala and Fatehgarh Sahib where teachers came together, brainstormed ideas about quality education, and went back with a plan for the month for their students.
We also identified certain motivated youth from the villages to come forward and support the children of their own village when schools were shut during the lockdown period. They were recognised as Sikhiya Ambassadors and they surely brought alive the idea that it takes a village to raise a child.
We enabled the academic and administrative leaders within the government education system with digital tools for effective collaboration and data analysis. For this, we organised boot camps for the Padho Punjab Padhao Punjab (PPPP) team and Cluster Head Teachers (CHTs).
Sreeja and Ashish from the India Education Collective (IEC) conducted strategy sessions with our team. During these, we came up with key levers to focus on within the education system across various levels.
The Founding Cohort of Punjab Youth Leaders Program (PYLP) will always be special. They have shaped the program more than anyone else. After a weeklong consolidation of work done by them from 2019-2021, they graduated. This also meant that Fatehgarh Sahib started Phase II of its operations.
This year, we invited the applications for the third cohort of PYLP in 2 phases, which also meant a longer outreach period.
Our selection process had completely shifted to online last year, and we continued the same way this year. The selection rate continued to be less than 5%.
We partnered with The Punjab Club to ensure more oxygen cylinders and concentrators are available and mobilised resources to assist in the on ground operations.
We proudly announced our third cohort, which brought in Young Leaders from varied backgrounds. From sociology to heritage studies, from music to public policy, it is a rich mix. You can refer people for our fourth cohort here!
We inducted the third cohort with a month-long residential program organised at the beautiful and inspiring campus of Gurmat Sagar Trust at Anandpur Sahib. It was a perfect natural setting for the new young leaders to look within, form bonds with each other, and learn about the systems change work they would soon be involved in.
The induction was a good mix of theory and practice, silence and reflection, fun and learning. The young leaders also received a warm welcome from the education leaders of Ropar district.
It was heartening to see Cohort 2 also playing a key role in the induction experience of Cohort 3.
We could substantially increase the scope of our work this year by adding more strategic capacity to our team. We are now a 20-member strong program team spread across Fatehgarh Sahib, Patiala, Ropar, and Mohali. We are looking for more!
And we continued to meet every month to reflect, plan, learn and have lots of fun together.
We are grateful to Genpact for having supported us to develop a playbook for the new district launch. It documents all our experiences of launching Fatehgarh Sahib and Patiala while fitting it into a framework.
Ever since Covid’s first wave, our work deepened with the education department and we launched several initiatives to enable the teachers and system leaders. ‘Digital Friday’ was one such initiative that began as an open weekly learning space for teachers to come and learn a skill they needed to ease their day-to-day work.
One of our focus areas is to identify the best practices implemented by teachers in a district and then amplify them through different means. In partnership with the Education Department and District Administration, we launched ‘Super 100’, to celebrate the teachers who went an extra mile to find solutions for their students during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Since our goal is to reach out to all the children studying in Government Primary Schools of Punjab so that they get to build the foundational capabilities needed in the initial years; we scale our efforts in different ways. We partnered with Convegenius to implement the ‘My Phone My School’ Program as a prototype in Patiala. It’s a WhatsApp-based teaching and learning solution using interactive and asynchronous methods of learning. After a successful prototype in Patiala, the program has been rolled out across Punjab.
Scaling up our work of strengthening local governance for the primary schools in the villages, we organised a first-of-its-kind meeting in Fatehgarh Sahib called the Block Sikhiya Sabha where Sarpanches of Block Khera gathered together to discuss the development of their village schools and created a school development plan.
We are a part of the State-wide Punjab Education Collective (PEC) along with Mantra4Change, Samarthya, and Shikshalokam through a 5-year MoU with the education department. This collective focuses on building the capacity of instructional leaders and improving school-community relations by strengthening the state-wide initiatives that the dept has taken up.
This year we also saw ourselves making headway to the urban areas in our districts and it started with the first-ever Urban Sikhiya Sabha in Mandi Gobindgarh to encourage the community to partner in school development.
We have been fortunate to receive support and guidance from our mentors and supporters throughout this journey. Young Leaders from Cohort 2 working in Patiala interacted with Prof. Arvind, Vice-Chancellor, Punjabi University Patiala. He shared inspiring anecdotes from his life and committed support to the program from the university's side.
The team also got an opportunity to share our story with Pramod Bhasin, Founder Genpact. The Young Leaders shared what motivates them every day to go to the schools and communities. We also learnt about the Punjab Innovation Mission from Somveer Anand, the Mission Director. This inspired the Young Leaders about pursuing entrepreneurship.
We shared about our work with the new education leadership of Punjab. Sh.Pargat Singh (Minister of School Education), Sh. Ajoy Sharma (Secretary, School Education) and Sh. Pradeep Agarwal (DGSE).
We ran our annual fundraising campaign for the third time and it turned out to be bigger than before. Filled with immense gratitude, Sanjhi Sikhiya Team thanks all the supporters who came forward and contributed to this cause. Lots of gratitude for all our ambassadors across the globe who played a key role in making this happen.
One of the reasons to celebrate this year was our 3rd anniversary on 11th September 2021. We celebrated this journey with our partners and stakeholders.
Diwali brought our entire family together in Patiala along with the system leaders. Sh. Amarjit Singh (DEO, Patiala) graced the occasion and spoke with the team. This was followed by a fun session on Jeopardy and a heritage walk the next day led by the young leaders themselves.
Our second cohort of 10 Young Leaders working in Patiala completed a year. It’s been a tough journey for them due to Covid but they managed to sail through!
To build a supportive ecosystem of the education transformation work and initiate dialogues around it, we restarted the ‘Panjab Dialogues’, a series to explore Punjab’s culture, development and environment. Exploring the importance of learning in mother tongue, we had a conversation with Gurmeet Kaur (Founder, Fascinating Folktales of Punjab) and Amarjit Chandan (Global face of modern Punjabi poetry).
This was followed by a discussion with Sh. Amarjit Singh (DEO, Patiala) on ‘Why students need to build foundational literacy and numeracy skills?’
We also partnered with Jeevay Punjab, an alternate platform to celebrate Punjab’s folk art forms, and shared about our work with their audience.
Taking this conversation global, Simranjit Singh, our Young Leader from the founding cohort and current Program Team member spoke to Jatinder Gidda on his show Roshni Live airing on FM Toronto.
Our most recent, third Cohort got off to a flying start in the Ropar District. With back-to-back Gram Sikhiya Sabhas attended by the Sarpanch, other panchayat members, SMC members, other influencers from the community, and teachers, the development of their village school became a priority.
Several local and national dailies covered our work this year. With more than 50 coverages the stories of Hope, Courage, and Possibilities are spreading far and wide.
As our team came together towards the end of the year to reflect on our progress, celebrate the successes and learn from the challenges; we are filled with immense gratitude for all of you for having been there for us.
You can support us in building this mission further in 2022.