Clean, spacious and well-designed classrooms play a big role in keeping learning environments stimulating and fertile. Broken furniture, poor ventilation, lack of sanitation facilities are some key reasons why students drop out of schools.
The government of Andhra Pradesh – a state in south India – sought to change this by revisiting the process of infrastructure planning and upkeep in its 45,000 schools throughout the state. The larger objective was to ensure students have a safe and fulfilling learning experience in an environment that would encourage them to attend class more regularly.
Recognizing parents as a critical stakeholder – because every parent wants for their child’s school to be well-designed and well-equipped – the Andhra Pradesh government brought them into the fold with the hope of reducing school dropout rates and ensuring uninterrupted learning.
A transformation begins
The Andhra Pradesh government conceptualized a state-wide school infrastructure reimagination plan, ‘Nadu Nedu’ (then and now), and partnered with TCS to make this possible through a first-of-its-kind technology enablement program. TCS was brought in given its experience in several large scale technology led programs for various government agencies, for instance, MGNREGA for employment, the Swachh Bharat Mission for sanitation, and an integrated water management program for the Andhra Pradesh government.
TCS proposed a community contracting system to provide and maintain school infrastructure. The entire process was to be seamlessly handled digitally by an app, access to which would be given to parent committees, school administration and construction and civil engineering companies. The principle behind this was to loop in primary stakeholders (in this case, the parent committees) as the drivers of these infrastructure projects.
This community contracting model formed the basis of the app developed by TCS – the School Transformation Monitoring System (STMS) – to drive Andhra Pradesh’s Nadu Nedu initiative. The app allowed the state government to directly transfer infrastructure development funds to the accounts of the school parents’ committees, thereby empowering and encouraging the parent community to actively oversee and execute the program.
Technology builds a classroom
The app allowed the parents’ committees to channel these funds to construction groups in a timely and transparent fashion. The civil engineering workforce would in turn prepare the estimates, take required approvals, and make payments to vendors through a centralized procurement system. The procurement system was also built into the STMS solution to ensure end-to-end visibility to all stakeholders. So, at any point in time, a state government official, a school administrator or a parent committee member could see and track the infrastructure development process. High quality compliance and monitoring tools were also developed as part of this model.
Three key features of the solution were:
The report card
Over 15,000 schools in the state have seen visible improvement in under one year as part of the Nadu Nedu program. The success of this program has led to the neighboring Indian state of Telangana wanting to replicate the model.
Furthermore, TCS’ technology platform created an ecosystem by looping in all stakeholders – state officials, parent committees, school administration and infrastructure providers (construction engineers, school equipment vendors, and so). This ecosystem has helped eliminate middlemen, creating a systemic change and transformation. Thetotal expenditure till August 2021 is INR 3,624 crore; direct savings till date, due to the elimination of contractors, is a whopping INR 540 crore.
On a transformational level, Nadu Nedu has proved how technology can help build an ecosystem of service to a community and serve the larger purpose of nation-building by playing a role in building a robust education infrastructure system.