Seven years ago, Tata Steel started a unique initiative aimed at promoting excellence in education at schools in Jamshedpur and other cities where the company has operations. The Tata Steel Education Excellence Programme (TEEP) was conceived by B Muthuraman, then MD and currently vice chairman of the company, with the objective of improving the quality of education, and to create a culture of excellence and nurture the citizens of tomorrow.
Based on the Baldrige Education Excellence Model, the programme is similar in many ways to the TBEM assessments that Tata companies go through. Teachers and principals undergo training to become assessors, who assess schools participating in the programme, once a year.
Forty schools currently benefit from this programme, covering 2,500 teachers and 100,000 students from the ICSE, CBSE and other examination boards. The TEEP is unique in that it is run by a private institution rather than by the government. Tata Steel has set up a special committee to oversee and govern this initiative, and all resources are disbursed by the company.
The TEEP adopts a holistic approach, with its framework benchmarked against similar frameworks in the US, Europe, Japan and Australia. The programme emphasises growth with equity and encourages schools to promote the concept of quality and performance excellence in all their activities, including teaching and learning methods.
Awards are given in several categories to recognise schools which have reached a commendable level of performance on the education excellence framework. This helps schools to enhance their management systems and processes in the areas of leadership, strategy planning, student and stakeholder focus, information and knowledge management, teacher and staff focus, educational processes, etc.
Says Lalita Sareen, principal of the Jamshedpur Public School, “We were living in our own citadels, without being approachable to people who should have been part of our system. We were very content with what we were doing. After many hours of training under the TEEP, we realised that we had been playing a game without any goal post. The TEEP has taught us to understand ourselves better. We now know what we want, where we want to go and how to get there.”
Assessment scores, which were low in the initial days, have risen steadily with participating schools improving their performance significantly and moving to the 360+ band in 2010. The greatest improvement was seen in the primary schools.
Students are happy with the results of the TEEP, too. “I like that the programme helps schools teach beyond books,” says one student. Another adds, “We are seeing a gradual change from just academic education to overall personality development.”
Another key Tata Steel education initiative — Education Quality Improvement Project (EQUIP) — was introduced in 2010 to focus on the core value of ‘Management by Fact’. Team-based EQUIPs involve the participation of teachers and students. Projects are classified into three categories: improvement through problem solving, where the emphasis is on diagnosis of the problem and remedial action; improvement through executing a task, where the solution to the problem is known and the emphasis is on approaches used by the team; and improvement through innovation.
In all, 50 EQUIPs were submitted by 20 schools in the year it was introduced. Within a year, EQUIP has already made an impact: four of its projects were recognised during the TEEP Award Function in February 2011.