The READ Alliance launched EGRIC 2015 to discover, develop and scale early grade reading innovations for primary school children in India. As a part of this, Innovation Workshops were organised across four cities to raise awareness about EGRIC 2015 and encourage innovative thinking in designing solutions to improve low reading skills among children. Excerpts from a conversation with one of the workshop facilitators:
- Why an innovation workshop now?
I can’t compare these to the ones we did in the first year. Our aim for that was to create awareness and gauge response to the Seven Steps to Reading along with bringing people together for collaboration. This time the approach was very different. We still believe in the seven steps. An innovation workshop was a great platform to have a dialogue around what innovation is, share our thesis on innovation, what the participants are already doing that can be identified as innovation and if not then what can be done.
- What is the importance of innovation in program design?
I think program design can sometimes be a very internal view of what should work and could work. Innovation helps expand that view. At times, the need from the solutions is to create agency for people who need change, it’s not always how programs are designed. It’s important to look into how information is being translated into solutions, are the factors being considered most appropriate to scale, who are you engaging with to bring change. Programs don’t necessarily allow you to fail and learn but innovation kind of necessitates that which can be a catalyst for solutions.
- A lot of your participants were practitioners and NGOs. How was it different to build innovation capacity with that group?
We don’t always work with the kind of participants we had for these workshops i.e. people who are from different organisations but working in the same space. We have done these workshops with people who have existing relationships or depend on each other. Here the people were just together because they worked in the same sector so it was interesting to work with them.
- Can you share something that you learnt from the participants?
Diversity in innovation is not spoken about enough. I met a sanskrit teacher in one of these workshops who was so quick to grasp and take these ideas forward.It was good to see different schools of thought and how they reconcile on the concepts and ways of understanding the challenge.