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Micro-improvements in early education for exponential change

Sreekar Gangisetty

Micro-improvements in early education for exponential change

When the Government of India launched the 100-day Reading Campaign in 2022, I wondered how it was able to quickly reach 139 million children under the age of 6 years, living in different geographical areas and coming from different socio-economic backgrounds. The campaign’s approach intrigued me – “making micro-improvements each day over a period of time will also lead to compounding growth and mega impact.” It reminded me of the book Atomic Habits. It talks about ‘micro-improvements’ and how they are successful because they plug into our existing habits to create irreversible change. 

While I understood the theory, I wanted to see it in action – especially as a way to create change at scale, with speed and sustainably. Luckily, when I attended ShikshaLokam’s Unbundle 4.0 earlier this year, this came alive. The event centred around how micro-improvement projects (MIPs) have the potential to shift the paradigm for early childhood education. 

A micro-improvement Project is designed to cause a disruptive shift in the ecosystem. It is a set of micro-improvements done in a time span towards the shared goal that makes up a micro-improvement project. All MIPs share a few characteristics: 

  • They cater to only one stakeholder.
  • They finish within a month
  • Their last step closes the loop i.e. doesn’t lead to additional iterations.

Think of this as many honeybees creating individual honeycombs and all of their efforts adding up to a big beehive. This is how I imagine a micro-improvement project. Each hexagon is a micro-improvement step, important and relevant on its own, but more importantly, adding to the creation of the beehive. 

So, using the micro-improvement approach, a big goal can be treated as a set of objectives that can be further broken down into simple, relevant, doable, and visible tasks that individuals in the system can easily carry out.

Micro-improvements in Early Childhood Education

The 100-day Reading Campaign had more than 50,000 improvement projects undertaken in 26,171 schools attempting and completing the projects on DIKSHA, out of which 87% of schools uploaded evidence on the platform.

For example, if a headmaster wants to increase the usage of Teaching Learning Materials (TLMs) in a preschool with a 2-week time duration. He starts by breaking down this goal into smaller objectives that can cumulatively help him reach his goal. Some of the objectives or micro-improvement projects could be:

  • Creating awareness about the importance of TLMs
  • Train teachers to properly utilise TLMs
  • Set up learning corners
  • Leveraging technology

Let’s assume he takes the first project i.e. creating awareness. He further breaks this down to write simple, actionable and achievable steps – micro-improvements, to achieve this objective. This could look like:

  • Understanding the importance of TLMs
  • Plan a meeting with the teachers to share the objective
  • Co-create a training plan with them
  • Teacher training
  • Teachers to explain the importance of TLMs to parents (to close the loop)

Now that we know what MIPs are, I wonder: How could we leverage MIPs in other domains like climate, healthcare, livelihoods and equity?

If you would like to discuss early childhood education and exponential change, write to me at