Education is the key. According to the World Bank, “education promotes employment and earnings,” which consequently affects health and helps with poverty reduction. On a larger scale, this enables the country to experience long-term economic growth, innovation, strengthened institutions and better social cohesion. In countries experiencing population and economic growth, such as India, it is therefore critical to invest in education, to make sure that economic gains are translated into better education for all; which could then lead to a self-reinforcing mechanism by which a more educated population could help lift certain areas of the country out of poverty.
Education in India
India ranks 121st out of 163 countries on the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Index Rank. The fourth SDG is quality education – which consists in ensuring “inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”. In this domain, challenges do remain and progress is stagnating. There is an obvious disparity between the quality of education offered in private and municipal schools.
Moreover, although India is reaching its target of universal coverage, an absurd amount of children leave school before grade five and studies revealed that most of them had a hard time reading in their own first language. Down the line, they would quickly revert back to illiteracy; which would maintain approximately half the Indian adult population as illiterate in 2025-2030. In other words, there has been some progress in quantity, but not quality.
Gyan Shala schools are one of the largest non-governmental school education programs for the poor in India. It covers programs from elementary school, which is free; to middle school and high school education, which take minimal charges.
The NGO tries to reduce disparities between low-income and high-income families. It fulfills this mission by offering high-quality education in urban slums at a low cost, effectively closing the educational gap between the rich and poor in India. To save on costs, the organization keeps its infrastructure minimal and typically rents spaces for 25 students on average.
The organization works in across nine districts and four states and counts more than 45,000 students. On top of that, they have also reached more than 600,000 government school students by providing assistance to 7,300 government schools. Its Affordable Private Schools (APS) model has permitted the organization to offer education at a cost five to 10 times lower than other elite Indian schools. Overall, they have reached hundreds of thousands of children, who have proven to obtain marks 100% to 150% higher than their counterparts in government schools. Students’ gains in learning outcomes have also proven to be 25% to 65% higher.
On top of that the organization wishes to persist, the organization resists, as seen in its annual report for 2021-2022; it reiterates its vision, which is to “become one of India’s most effective NGO programs to address the schooling quality gaps and help India improve its ranking in social development indicators.” Not all heroes wear capes.
– Alexandra Piat