Education is the backbone of any nation. By learning and understanding skills, an individual can change any predefined outcomes. However, in India, there are still several challenges to education. In this article, Thurit focuses on two core problems that still prevail in the country with respect to education. Additionally, we promote, understand, changemakers at all levels who are making a difference to countless young minds across India.
The first core problem is the lack of proper infrastructure. At Thurit, we believe that the atmosphere and environment are key aspects of learning and acquiring skills. The District Information System for Education (DISE) assessed the state of public school infrastructure and unearthed terrible facts related to the Indian school system. 73% of schools across the country have no access to computers and a further 30% of schools don’t have access to electricity. This then throws up the problem as to how young children can equip themselves to thrive in a digitized world.
It is also important to note that that particular study did not include variables such as arrangements, lighting, and state of the classrooms. From an infrastructure perspective, it can be concluded that massive changes need to take place to equip students to become digitally secure. The current state of affairs also poses critical challenges for special-needs children.
The second core problem that is holding back the education system in India is the lack of quality. The socioeconomic problems that exist in India have amplified the inability of students to escape their reality through education. The education system is overburdened and under-equipped due to inadequate funding. There is also increased absenteeism among underpaid and underqualified teachers. Many schools still have high student-to-teacher ratios and outdated teaching methodologies. It is still common for schools to use rote learning to ensure that grades are achieved without any actual learning taking place.
The public school infrastructure problem that exists in India is a policy and system-level problem. However, the second core problem of a lack of quality is being overcome by the injection of social impact and innovation. Thurit looks at the impact done by MAD, TFI, XSEED, and the Akansha Foundation.
Make-A-Difference, which is popularly known as MAD is one of India’s top NGOs that focus on the holistic development and improvement of young underprivileged children. Their model for development begins with laying a strong foundation followed by the provision of academic support, transition readiness, aftercare, and mentorship. The goal that MAD looks to achieve is to establish Middle-class economic outcomes through a development scheme that can change the lives of around 3500 students annually. The NGO currently has a quasi-organizational structure that is powered by the work done by volunteers. Currently, there are over 3000 volunteers impacting the lives of countless young minds across 23 cities in India.
Teach for India or TFI is one of the best fellowship programs in India when it comes to creating change in the Education sector with focus placed on both quality and infrastructure development. The program focuses on creating both short-term and long-term development. Through their fellowship program, TFI places the best and brightest individuals in underprivileged institutions as full-time teachers to understand the ground reality of India’s education problem. The long-term impact comes through engagement with leaders in the Education Sector.
The impact of TFI is profound with year-on-year growth being double in TFI-enabled classrooms when compared to that in regular classrooms. Students are also able to recall and perform better in mathematics with an increase in mastery of 28% since the beginning of the academic year. The other critical impact of the intervention of TFI fellows is that the reading ability of students grows by 1.1 times, which is essentially important since most students lag by a year in their ability to read. Overall, the short-term improvement in quality that TFI provides allows students to make significant progress. There has also been steady long-term infrastructural development due to the continued relationship between TFI and leadership in the Education Sector.
The Akansha Foundation is one of the major public-private partnership networks for schools and has helped in educating children from low socioeconomic communities in Mumbai and Pune. The non-profit organization initially started out as after-school centers to maximize a child’s potential and eventually developed Akansha schools that provide systematic reforms in the Indian schooling sector. The foundation has been active for over 28 years and has led to a significant impact on student lives and to the community. As of 2020, Akansha schools manage 97% retention and 88% student attendance, which is well over the national average. And additionally, the foundation has enabled the active participation of parents with school management activities with a staggering 75% and has delivered a 90% retention rate for teachers.
For-profit social enterprise
The Singapore-based education company has focused on improving the quality of education being provided to students across South and Southeast Asia. The company has developed the XSEED system, which has impacted more than 2 million students in the region and is being implemented in well over 3000 schools in the region. The XSEED system involves the use of an integrated curriculum that is adapted to the school’s existing syllabus (ICSE, CBSE, or State-board in India). The XSEED system also includes the training of teachers and changes to the assessment framework.
The focus of the company is to improve the quality of education standards and to help schools transition from “Teaching as Telling” to an inquiry and application-based approach that involves activities, reflection, and a holistic feedback system. The company ensures that schools move from the outdated model of rote learning to an application-based system that emphasizes rigor through practice and assessment instead.
MAD, TFI, XSEED, and Akansha Foundation are creating short-term as well as long-term impact to change the course of the future. By empowering and enabling children from low socioeconomic communities to learn, these organizations are ensuring that change is being created at the grassroots level. Thurit wishes to promote and celebrate these changemakers, who are ensuring that change is now.
The UAAS journey of Aravind Kannan is provided below. The UAAS journey map enables us to bring you stories of awesomeness and social impact.
Aravind’s UAAS Journey
Understanding: I was unaware of the issues that underprivileged children in India face, particularly access to quality education. I had also not realized the impact that knowing English has on someone’s job, and income.
Awareness: Through interactions with my friends and classmates who volunteered, I realized that by simply learning English these underprivileged children were improving their chances of getting a job that pays them at least INR 15,000 per month.
Action: I was part of a team of volunteers that helped establish and grow the Chennai Chapter for U&I, a volunteer-driven organization that teaches English to underprivileged children. All I did was to spend 2.5 hours every weekend teaching kids English, a language that I was privileged enough to learn at school.
Social Impact: I volunteered with U&I from 2014 through 2018, and helped teach English to underprivileged children in Chennai and Bangalore; many of whom are in customer-facing jobs that pay them enough to start leading a self-sufficient life.
You can map your journey, too
You can check out the UAAS model here, and if you are interested, do send in your own social change journey to either [email protected] or [email protected]. Help us unearth stories of determination, impact, and awesomeness.