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Women’s Education in India, What You Need to KnowIn the fight against global poverty, women’s education in India is overlooked as a stimulant of change. Similarly, gender equality is a significant issue that prevails in India today. As a result of the country’s patriarchal structure, women continue to struggle to gain equal opportunities for success.

Women’s Rights in India

Throughout India’s long history, patriarchal and religious practices have greatly affected women’s rights. Misogynistic practices and ideas limit educational opportunities for women. Consequently, the reassertion of harmful gender roles is prevalent. 23 million girls drop out of school every year because communities are unwilling to provide proper feminine sanitation. This lack of women’s education hinders India’s economic and social growth.

Women also often take up domestic, unpaid labor because employers feel they are unqualified for employment. On average, women work six hours of unpaid domestic labor per day while men work 30 minutes of unpaid labor. This discrepancy severely limits women’s educational opportunities and ability to obtain employment. It also reinforces the belief that women are unable to provide for themselves and cannot actively contribute to the economy.

Women’s Education in India

Having equal access to education is crucial to alleviating poverty. According to the World Bank, countries with limited educational opportunities for women lose $15-$30 trillion in predicted lifetime earnings. Providing education for women helps strengthen female autonomy and allows them to contribute to the national economy.

Furthermore, educated women are less likely to marry young. According to The Tribune, women’s education could lead up to 60% fewer women getting pregnant under the age of 17. Educated women also have more opportunities to achieve higher socioeconomic status due to increased career avenues. By educating women and promoting gender equality, women are able to more confidently enter the workforce. Education is considered to be one of the best catalysts for sustainable growth within any country.

3 Organizations Promoting Women’s Education

Many organizations, including Pratham, Girl’s Who Code and Educate Girls Bond are fighting against global poverty by emphasizing the importance of gender equality and women’s education in India.

  1. Pratham: Founded in 1995, Pratham is an organization designed to improve education for children in Mumbai. Since then, it has grown in size and effectiveness. The organization seeks to provide necessary resources to educators in India, increasing the quality of education. Pratham has become well-established within the country’s educational system as an organization that developed testing programs for state governments and local communities. Pratham focuses on the implementation of grassroots initiatives and sustainable growth within local communities to educate children who are not receiving an adequate education. The organization makes yearly reports public for people to track their progress. In the year 2018, Pratham improved gender equality and education for 15.7 million children in India.
  2. Girls Who Code: Girls Who Code is an international organization that aims to provide opportunities for women to learn about and obtain specialized skills in computer science. Though the organization functions in many countries, its Indian branch is one of the most successful. After-school clubs and summer immersion programs are able to teach young girls valuable technical skills in a short period of time. Today, women hold only 26% of computer science employment positions. Girls Who Code acknowledges this and works to provide education for women to thrive in this field. The organization also provides scholarships to recognize students who excel in the programs. As of 2019, the organization has provided education for 300,000 girls at their camps.
  3. Educate Girls Bond: Educate Girls Bond is a Development Impact Bond that utilizes finances from independent investors to create new opportunities for girls’ education. As a part of this goal, the organization has created 166 schools in Rajasthan, North India. Educate Girls tackles gender inequality by addressing it as a social problem and showing its positive, social impact. The organization promotes gender equality by providing education for young girls throughout India. In just the first year, 44% of the targeted girls successfully enrolled in schools. This compels independent investors to continue their financial support while also attracting new investors to take part in this positive change.

Women’s education in India is often overlooked in the fight against poverty. However, promoting gender equality and providing equal access to education empowers women and boosts their socioeconomic status. Today, more women in India are able to contribute to the economy in ways that fight against poverty.

– Stella Vallon
Photo: Flickr

Education in India
Schools in India shut down in March 2020 due to COVID-19. While a lot of schools transitioned into online curriculums, many were unable to make this infrastructural shift. More than half of India’s population lives in rural areas. Furthermore, only 15% of rural households have access to the internet. The pandemic has put a spotlight on the digital divide within the country. NGOs, foundations and other social enterprises have become key to improving education in India.

Sampark

Sampark Foundation has reached more than 10 million children in six states throughout India. It focuses on education equality, providing low-cost educational services in order to broaden its reach. Sampark Smart Shala uses innovations such as board games, mobile applications and rechargeable audio devices to keep students engaged in lessons. These innovations specifically cater to students in rural areas.

Sampark’s COVID-19 response utilizes the national television channel Doordarshan and language-friendly apps to share quizzes and improve education in India. Furthermore, this organization posts ideas on a crowdsourced platform called Baithak for teachers to use. Teachers are also encouraged to keep in touch with their pupils.

Recently, Sampark has launched a program called Har Ghar Science STEM for Girls. This program’s goal is to establish science labs in rural schools and adopt an ascending approach to educating girls. As a result, education in India continues to evolve positively within rural communities.

Pratham

Pratham is an NGO based in Mumbai. Its goal is to bridge the gap in the Indian education system by implementing high-quality, low-cost and replicable interventions. This organization’s programs have improved education in India tremendously. Additionally, Pratham aids the government in encouraging children to regularly attend school. The organization relies on parents, local communities, volunteers and state governments to create personalized models of learning.

Currently, Pratham is working to engage underprivileged children and improve education in India through new programs. Karona Thodi Masti Thodi Padhai (Do it: A Little Fun, A Little Study) is a new program developed to aid students during the COVID-19 pandemic. This program uses popular messaging services, radio and WhatsApp to check in with students virtually. This new aspect of learning prioritizes “fun” and “study” to motivate students during this stressful time.

Eklavya

Eklavya is an NGO that works in education resource centers in Madhya Pradesh. This organization focuses on helping impoverished children become self-sufficient learners. Eklavya has published several books on education, children’s literature and other resource material, believing that education should be based on curiosity and experiences to motivate students. This NGO aims to enhance education in India by focusing on rural areas. Eklavya trains eligible parents, siblings and local youth to teach at well-ventilated spaces within local, socially distanced locations. Additionally, it has established a mobile-library system that rotates between localities.

Vidya

Vidya is an NGO that has served 3.7 million people in major cities such as Delhi, Gurgaon, Bangalore, Pune and Mumbai. This organization aims to provide education on life-skills, vocations and mental and physical wellbeing. Vidya’s goal is to improve education equality throughout India.

In response to the pandemic, Vidya developed strategies to combat the effects of COVID-19 on education in India. The NGO divided its solutions into technology and organization-based approaches. Solutions include reorganized exam schedules, adjusted syllabi and increased planning for a teaching aid for the next academic year.

The technological divide has made it difficult for students living in impoverished areas to access education in India. However, Vidya has received donations for phones, laptops and other devices to improve access to education. It arranges for students to pick up these devices at their convenience.

Thinkzone

Thinkzone is a social enterprise that aims to improve educational outcomes for children living in vulnerable communities. It uses “tech plus touch” models to combat inequality in education. Similar to other organizations, Thinkzone uses community-based approaches. This organization’s COVID-19 response is rooted in home-based learning that relies on phone calls and SMS to interact with parents who have started teaching their children. Fortunately, automated calls and interactive voice response technologies are accessible in many different languages. These automated calls provide pre-recorded course material to improve education in India.

This organization also strives to train community educators and assess the needs of students for further improvement. Furthermore, Thinkzone has partnered with various organizations and the government to improve education in India. Its home-based initiative has successfully reached more than 10,000 children in India.

These organizations have taken significant steps to improve education in India and aid the government in creating a more sustainable way of learning. With improved access to technology, education equality will continue to improve long after the pandemic has ended.

Anuja Mukherjee 
Photo: Flickr

How Ekal Vidyalaya is Adapting for Indian ChildrenIn India, literacy and education stand as critical tests to measure success, whether in future prospects for the individual or future success for a community. After the end of British rule in the nation, the literacy rate stood at about 12%. Today, the rate has more than quintupled to nearly 70% across the nation. Even so, disparities exist across villages, provinces and states. To tackle these issues and advance the education of India’s next-generation, a non-profit organization is helping the children in the midst of a global pandemic. Ekal Vidyalaya is adapting for Indian children, continues to build schools, prioritize sustainability and maintain ambitious objectives from a variety of different chapters across not just India, but around the world.

Initial Difficulties and Welcome Surprises

As a non-profit, Ekal Vidyalaya delivers various resources and instructional services through its village-to-village outreach. Establishing schools with a teacher impacts a previously education-lacking community in significant ways. Before the pandemic, various Ekal Vidyalaya’s chapters would host different events per year to raise funds to allow various programs to continue. The Chapter President Senthil Kumar detailed to the Borgen Project how typical efforts would no longer be viable this year. Kumar shared that most of the average fundraisers are cultural events for local Indian communities in various parts of the world. It drew in between $70,000 and $100,000. He carefully notes that just “$1 can keep a school open for a day.”

Moreover, Ekal Vidyalaya seeks to grow its impact in communities 10-20% more than last year. Because of significant differences across India’s economic, geographical and social landscape, funding necessities can vary. In addition, transitioning to online events has its own advantages. Local gatherings can still survive in digital spaces. Because annual events usually bring in singers, actors, and other notable icons from India, overhead fees can be entirely forgoed. Empty seats in auditoriums are not concerns over Zoom or similar platforms. As a result, this diverts resources to more directly meet program financial targets. It makes a tangible change for rural children and has allowed the same level of grassroots fundraising to persist, according to Kumar. Adapting for Indian children might mean venue changes and alterations from a traditional schedule. However, it seems that sacrificing the fundamental missions is not an insurmountable concern.

An Implementation Landscape: Three Things to Know

  1. Kumar told The Borgen Project that “[About 30%] of all schools are self-sustaining.” He spoke on the long-term ability of Ekal Vidyalaya to support students and communities to utilize and provided tools for future improvement. The Standard Social Innovation Review points to “scale and scarcity.” They are the two most essential obstacles that nonprofits and organizations working in India have to overcome. To that end, Ekal Vidyalaya continues to strive forward to meet its ultimate goal of total literacy across India. With well over 120,000 schools running, supported by trained volunteers and others, a necessary review of financial disbursement comes into the forefront.

  2. The usage and allocation of the fund play a crucial role in a nonprofit’s vision. According to Kumar, funds Ekal Vidyalaya raises are divided into the following amounts: 60% is set for teachers and teaching, 27% is for training and capacity, 4% is dedicated for teaching materials and 9% is used for administrative costs. While these numbers alone don’t necessarily signal direct change, a key signifier of the nonprofit’s attentiveness to its mission. By extension, its effectiveness is its recent shift in order to facilitate adapting for Indian children and families during the COVID-19 pandemic.

  3. Efforts in towns and communities, outside of Ekal villages, highlight wide-scale mask distributions and food outreach. There is also information campaigns that make use of Ekal resources to protect Indian communities. The teachers and volunteers served as health volunteers in many situations. Additionally, they keep villages and tribal areas safer under guidelines through checks that might have otherwise been difficult to establish and enforce. While the situation has changed, useful approaches using existing resources also testify to the resiliency of Ekal villages. In many areas, trained villagers are taught through school programs and skills sessions to manufacture materials like face masks. This is to ensure reliable incomes and necessary local health support.

The landscape that Ekal Vidyalaya functions on is perpetually shifting. However, it isn’t beyond the reach of sustained communal efforts and careful elasticity when meeting new intentions and ambitions. Even in light of a public health crisis, Ekal Vidyalaya’s work extends beyond a single facet of nonprofit capability. Due to the nature of its support and of where it’s positioned, Ekal Vidyalaya bears the capacity for change. This change happens in the relatively short term and in the long term. The education, literacy and future of millions of India’s next-generation depend on this.

Alan Mathew

Photo: Pexels

Phones Are Providing a New Relief From the Poverty Wave In IndiaThe recent technological revolution booming in the developed world is showing positive results. To that end, many people are urging the distribution of these technologies to developing countries like India. Rural villages in the country have largely not been part of the mobile phone trend. Even certain urban areas remain hidden from these new technologies. Several nonprofit organizations and recent government movements have vowed to fight this reality, looking to increase the availability of cell phones and cell phone data in India. Here are three ways India is using phones to combat poverty.

Increasing Education Opportunities

Many rural villages in India focus on agriculture as their primary form of livelihood. Most farmers only earn around $2 per day. In 2010, a nonprofit organization based in San Francisco, mPowering, partnered with a charity working in Orissa, India to distribute mobile phones to village residents. mPowering relied on cell phone towers in the area to give farmers and other rural families more functionality. The nonprofit’s initiative, conducted in the Indian village of Juanga, saw a 19% increase in its school attendance for children. In addition, more women were able to gain access to important health care needs through a so-called point system loaded onto communal phones. People can then redeem these points for commodities like food and clothing. As a result, the Juanga experiment found a 67% decrease in reported diseases.

Government Intervention for Economic Stimulation

The Indian government has developed a scheme to hand out phones to children and impoverished families because more than 10% of Indian families cannot afford to purchase a cell phone. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the country is distributing phones to children learning online. In the Punjab region, 75 million children should receive a handset. These initiatives are a direct response to the rising fear that more than 24 million children worldwide could lose access to proper education.

According to a UN report, if online school without other alternatives continues, this very fear might become a reality. The Indian government’s push to include children in its mobile phone plan is just one step to introduce mobile devices to the general population. It has also developed a $6.65 billion scheme to increase the production of electronic goods within the country. The move has helped increase the number of phone manufacturers in India, which rose from two to more than 200 in just a few years.

A Variety of Options for a Variety of Users

Estimates show that more than 900 million Indian citizens do not own a smartphone or have access to the internet. However, recent economic growth has turned India into a leading market for cheap phone data options. As a result of this spark in data growth, companies developed a variety of cell phones and cell phone software to reach a wider demographic. There are currently more than 100 smartphone brands that dominate the Indian cell phone market, with Chinese manufacturers holding more than 75% of the space. Recently, companies like Apple have begun to market lower-end budget phones to expand their outreach in India as well. Growing demand and relatively low tariff rates have allowed mobile phone markets to gain millions of users in mere months. The launch and future cultivation of 3G and 4G networks are only expediting initiatives that use phones to combat poverty.

The expanding economy in India is allowing newer technologies to reach a wider range of consumers. The target audience in the country has slowly shifted from urban individuals to inhabitants of impoverished rural regions. As India’s economic prosperity grows, using phones to combat poverty ensures that people receive more education, are better off and experience inclusion.

– Mihir Gokhale
Photo: Flickr

Problems in Rural India
Despite the country’s soaring GDP, India is home to almost a quarter of the world’s poor population. Although India lifted 270 million people out of poverty between 2006 and 2016, 270 million more people continue to live below the global poverty line. The extreme poverty that India’s poor faces disproportionately affects rural populations and women, who receive fewer opportunities in education, healthcare and employment.

Named after the goddess of education, nonprofit Bani Mandir works to elevate people in India’s most vulnerable communities by solving problems in rural India. The organization, based in West Bengal, India, aims to address the root causes of poverty, particularly in rural areas and among women. By providing solutions to education inequality, access to healthcare and women’s opportunities, Bani Mandir empowers India’s rural poor.

Education

One of the root causes of poverty is a lack of education. Access to education is integral to lifting people out of poverty, as education reduces inequality and drastically improves the opportunities students obtain as they age. In India, where 45% of the poor population is illiterate, improving access to education in rural areas is vital.

Girls in India, particularly those living in poverty, face additional barriers when it comes to attending school. India gave girls the right to education in 2009. However, many girls are still unable to attend school due to housework responsibilities, stigma and health concerns. The lack of girls in school contributes to fewer women in the workforce. Women make up only 25% of the labor force in India.

To increase enrollment of girls and students from rural areas, Bani Mandir has provided education for more than 10,000 students, maintaining equal representation between girls and boys. Bani Mandir also helps children receive sufficient nutrition support and trains teachers in effective teaching practices. These advancements are improving the quality of education for a larger number of students.

Access to Healthcare

In India, rural communities receive significantly less access to healthcare. Due to the lack of health facilities and insufficient awareness about the benefits of healthcare, many workers in rural communities are unwilling to sacrifice a day’s wages to attend a healthcare visit. Additionally, women in India receive less access to healthcare than men. In a 2019 study, men and boys were two times as likely to visit a healthcare facility. The study also found that many women who should have seen a doctor did not.

To improve access to healthcare in India’s vulnerable communities, Bani Mandir offers comprehensive healthcare programs. Women make up 60% of those benefiting from Bani Mandir’s health services. Bani Mandir’s 23 health projects served more than 3,500 people living in rural villages and slums. The organization also arranged more than 100 health camps to address immediate medical needs. Finally, Bani Mandir partners with schools to provide health programs to students. Its work is encouraging students to seek healthcare and to grow up in a culture where going to the doctor is standard practice.

Women’s Empowerment

Since many women are often denied access to education and healthcare, their employment opportunities are limited. Furthermore, employment is not a guarantee of equal treatment. In fact, pay inequalities result in men making 65% more than women for the same labor. Although gender equality in India is a constitutional right, many women are unaware of their rights and of the ways they can support themselves financially.

Bani Mandir offers more than 375 self-help groups across 30 villages and supports more than 15,000 women and girls to help eliminate problems in rural India. These women’s empowerment groups educate women about their rights, organize finances and offer loans for small businesses, encouraging female entrepreneurs. Bani Mandir also aims to change societal perceptions and stigmas against women by educating broader communities. Bani Mandir’s programs are educating upwards of 10,000 community members about women’s rights issues.

By addressing the problems in rural India pertaining to poverty, such as education, healthcare and women’s opportunities, Bani Mandir is inciting change across entire communities and improving the lives of rural populations. The organization also offers services that improve sanitation, care for the elderly and support for abandoned children. With its wide scope, Bani Mandir is providing countless examples of concrete ways to create change. To build upon the positive change that Bani Mandir and other nonprofits have inspired, the Indian government should sharpen its laws around gender equality to ensure that women and girls obtain adequate access to employment, healthcare and education.

Melina Stavropoulos
Photo: Unsplash

STEM Education in India

According to India’s latest census, 7.8 million children must earn a living while attending school. Another 84 million children do not even attend school. One of India’s biggest challenges is making education accessible to all its people. While primary education in India is now required, many children do not have the means to attend school. Although India’s literacy rates are rising, studies show that many children in primary schools fail to comprehend basic skills and concepts. As new technologies emerge, STEM education is becoming an important aspect of India’s education. The Agastya International Foundation and India STEM Foundation are two nonprofit organizations introducing rural children to STEM education.

STEM Education in India

In 2011, The Wall Street Journal reported that 75 percent of India’s technology graduates lack the qualifications for jobs in their fields. This report came a month after India released its 2011 census stating that nearly 92 million children in India struggle to achieve an education. Today, India’s government and nonprofit organizations, such as the Agastya International Foundation and the India STEM Foundation, have partnered to provide children with a strong education they can depend on later in life.

Agastya International Foundation

Founded in 1999, the Agastya International Foundation is a “transformative educational organization” that provides poor rural and urban children with hands-on learning through its mobile science labs. With more than 130 mobile labs set up across India, Agastya provides more than 500 students with hands-on learning every day. The Agastya International Foundation hones its curriculum to fill noticeable gaps within India’s education system.

  • With a rural 172 acre campus, Agastya provides children and young adults with a wide range of hands-on learning activities. The Camps @ Campus program is a unique opportunity for rural and urban children to come together. During the program, children sharpen their academic abilities while simultaneously drawing lessons from their rural or urban counterparts. Agastya also offers learning opportunities for remote children who are unable to attend on-campus programs. Lab-in-a-Box contains science experiments that are sent to village schools in the more rural corners of India. Agastya trains at least one teacher per school to assist the students as they work through each experiment. There are a total of 12 boxes packed with more than 133 experiments that range from chemistry to biology.
  • The Agastya International Foundation’s most effective program is its mobile labs. Trained teachers travel across India in a van to supply rural children with an education in science. In 2018, over 160 mobile labs reached nearly 4 million children in 2,460 schools. The teachers reported seeing a spike in attendance whenever the Mobile Labs came to visit. Agastya’s Lab-on-a-Box programs also saw similar results, reaching more than 600,000 children in 780 schools.
  • Agastya is also empowering aspiring teachers through their Young Instructor Leaders program. This program breaks down the traditional setup of a classroom by allowing the students to become the teacher. Last year, over 18,000 children participated in the YIL program. One young leader organized cleaning programs in his village while another provided her family with financial and educational advice. Due to Agastya, the young leader “lost [her] fear once [she] became a young leader.” Already impacting over 6 million children and 200,000 teachers, the Agastya International Foundation continues to create, connect and empower children with science throughout India.

India STEM Foundation

Similar to the Agastya International Foundation, the India STEM Foundation’s mission is to educate young children about science and technology. In an interview, the program manager, Nityanand Channur, stated that “there is definitely a need [for a] holistic learning approach in [India’s] education system.”  Through its hands-on education in robotics, the India STEM Foundation hopes to inspire young students to pursue careers in STEM fields. Since 2006, the Foundation has created robotic labs, workshops, training for teachers and robotics competitions.

  • Robotics has quickly become one of the many stepping-stones to engage children by using important concepts in math and science. Through problem solving and teamwork, the students work together to create a working robot. Robo Siksha Kendra is the India STEM Foundation’s robotics program that has captivated more than 500,000 students and created 15,000 teachers. In 2018, India STEM Foundation partnered with Lego to create India’s first Lego League. Over 2000 students participated in the robotic event. The students were tasked with researching and designing a solution to a real-world scientific problem or question.
  • Alongside its robotic program, the Foundation also supports the Atal Tinkering Lab, which uses the same hands-on methodology to create an environment for students to create and innovate. The Atal Innovation Mission was created by the Government of India to encourage and foster curiosity in children. Its mission is to “cultivate one million children in India as Neoteric Innovators.”

STEM education is not only fostering an interest in science, technology, engineering and math, but a future for children and India. India’s next generation of innovators is on the rise and ready to meet India’s growing need for STEM careers.

Emily Beaver
Photo: Flickr

education in India

As India’s population continues to grow, the number of education initiatives from both nonprofits and the government has increased. The approaches to modernizing and unifying education for India’s 1.3 billion people vary, with some focusing on equality and others on upgrading the curriculum. Educate Girls, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and The Akanksha Foundation are three programs looking to improve education in India, through different methods.

3 Approaches to Better Education in India

  1. Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan
    Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) is the Indian Government’s flagship program for universalizing elementary education. Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan mandates education for children ages 6 to 14 under the 86th amendment to the Constitution of India. SSA is implemented in coordination with state governments to reach 192 million students, with a particular focus on girls and children with special needs. SSA also has an emphasis on community-specific education, in order to address the particular needs of all communities, especially indigenous communities. India has almost 600 Indigenous communities, most of which are rural. Those who live there speak almost 300 Indigenous dialects, meaning that education policies cannot be one-size-fits-all.SSA looks to open new schools in villages that lack infrastructure, or where existing infrastructure is inadequate. For existing schools, the goal is to strengthen teaching staff and increase access to teaching materials and resources such as computers. Many schools in urban areas have significantly benefited from SSA, seeing improvements in textbooks and consistency with teacher salaries. However, rural villages are not seeing the same benefits. In the Keonjhar district, the school does not have proper classrooms and only three teachers for the almost 90 students it serves. The community has appealed to the government for nine years but has received little assistance.
  2. Educate Girls
    Educate Girls works to increase government accountability for education in India’s rural villages. Educate Girls is a non-profit organization established in 2007 by Indian native Safeena Husain. The organization focuses on mobilizing forces in local communities to advocate for better education opportunities in India. Educate Girls currently operates in 13,000 villages with an overall goal of reaching 16 million children cumulatively by 2024.Educate Girls works to increase education in India by lobbying existing governmental networks to improve education conditions for both boys and girls, as not to duplicate services. Husain feels that by forcing the hand of the government, not only do they reduce the risk of duplicating service, but they also hold the government accountable to its citizens and avoid government dependence on non-profit services. Educate Girls uses a base of community volunteers to identify, enroll and retain girls in school to help improve literacy and numeracy rates.The organization aims to change the behavioral and social approach to girls’ education to create an environment where equal opportunities are automatic in India. Volunteers currently go door to door in villages to identify every girl who is not in school. Educate Girls takes pride in their survey’s 100 percent saturation rate by knocking on every door in the village they are targeting. This initiative led to the re-enrollment of 380,000 girls.Thanks to Educate Girls’ in-depth research, it has partnered up with the UBS Optimus Foundation and the Children’s Investment Foundation to create the first-ever results-based bond program. Educate Girls was also just named an Audacious Project of 2019. The Audacious Project is an organization funded by numerous donors and housed by TED, which chooses a few organizations each year to showcase for donors and to present at the annual TED conference. Educate Girls was one of eight organizations selected for this year’s Audacious Project.
  3. The Akanksha Foundation
    The Akanksha Foundation has taken education in India out of the hands of the government, creating a network of public-private schools that are built, staffed and managed by the foundation. Although the schools are privately funded, the organization establishes partnerships with the community as a whole in which it operates. Akanksha schools believe that nurturing home environments is equally as crucial to academic success as a positive school experience. Its academic model starts with an initial evaluation of needs and goal setting. Then through constant evaluation, Akanksha schools tailor their standard curriculum to each community’s needs. Akanksha schools also believe in a focus on extracurricular activities to help develop social and emotional intelligence, teaching students to be responsible and compassionate citizens.Akanksha has 21 schools in Pune and Mumbai, reaching 9,300 students. Within those districts, 12th grade passing rates in the Akanksha schools are higher than the government-run high schools. Ninety-two percent of 12th graders from Akanksha passed compared to only 86 percent passed in the public high school. Similarly to the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan government initiative, the results are seen in urban areas, but rural areas are still not receiving comparable resources or attention. India tasks local governments with auditing and enforcing education in their communities, but efforts are often obstructed by cultural opinions about education.

– Carly Campbell
Photo: Flickr

Girls Education in IndiaEducation in India has greatly improved over the past decade. However, there is still much that needs to be down to decrease the education gaps that exist in rural areas and between girls and boys. These 10 facts show the problems that still need to be solved and what is being done to improve education in India.

10 Facts About Education in India

  1. Considering India has the second largest population in the world, it isn’t surprising to find that India has the world’s second-largest school system, after China. However, there is still a gap in participation rates despite the millions of enrolled students. These gaps are particularly evident among populations of lower castes, minorities, and rural regions. Education in India is on its way toward improving due to major increases in government funding in rural areas.

  2. Free and compulsory education in India is provided to children between the ages of 6 and 14. In August 2009, the Indian Parliament passed the landmark Right to Education Act that made education in India free and compulsory for children between the ages of 6 and 14. There have been tremendous increases and advances in access to education and because of this act. For example, literacy rates in India have increased in recent years. The student population in the school system grew by 5 percent between the years 2010 and 2015.

  3. India’s improved education system is one of the main contributors to it’s growing economy. Over the past several years, India increased spending on education by 80 percent between 2011 and 2015, increased literacy rates to nearly 74 percent as of 2011, increased English-language speaking in classrooms giving more access to foreign studies and careers and has significantly increased primary education than ever before. This has to lead to a surge in youth working in some of the best technology-centered jobs in the world. Subsequently, India has seen an increase in GDP.

  4. One in 40 primary schools in India is conducted in tents or open spaces with unqualified teachers. Insufficient funds are allocated to rural regions and primary schools depriving children in rural areas of primary schooling in buildings. Often children are taught in tents or open spaces with little to no common resources, such as pencils, pens, paper, chalkboard, etc. Further, UNICEF and other global organizations have observed that one major problem with education in India is unqualified teachers. For example, according to WENR (World Education News + Reviews), the qualification requirements for teachers are low. 

  5. A disproportionate number of total out-of-school children in India are girls. In the rural areas of India, is not uncommon to find that child labor is a primary reason children are not in school. This is because of the need of children in the farms and family work to provide a living for families below the poverty line. Most of these children are girls. In certain regions, there is still resistance to sending girls to school. Even with the Right to Education Act making school compulsory for children 6-14, more girls than boys are forced to drop-out by their parents to help out at home. However, progress has been made in keeping girls in school. The Right to Education Act doubled the number of girls toilets in schools by 2016 and increase the number of walled school grounds removing a significant safety concern for girls school attendance. Since the Right to Education Act passed, the percentage of out-of-school girls 11-14 decreased from 10.3 percent in 2006 to 4.1 percent in 2018.

  6. Preschool education in India is not mandatory and fairly uncommon. The Right to Education act emphasized education in India for ages 6-14. However, preschool education is not necessarily prioritized. In reality, more than 30 percent of educational funds are allocated towards higher education, leaving education for children under age 6 underfunded.

  7. As of 2011, 21.2 percent of India’s population lives under the official poverty line. High poverty rates lead to high drop out rates for children. Why? Their priority and primary concern is helping their families survive. For the impoverished, education is a luxury, something only the rich can afford in terms of time and money. This mindset can be changed by allocating more money to building schools in impoverished areas in India thereby providing direct access to school and working around the schedules of those also helping their families.

  8. In this years’ budget, the Finance Minister announced a 4.9 percent increase in the education budget. Four billion Indian Rupees ($58 million) will be allocated for setting-up world-class institutes of education in India. According to the Hindu Business Line, “Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said the government will bring in a new national education policy to transform India’s higher education system to one of the best in the world.” Thirty percent of funds will be allocated towards higher education to emphasize research and innovation in higher education.

  9. The recently increased education budget is focused on research and higher education in India, rather than primary and rural education. Though a meager amount of money will be spent on education in rural India, the state and central governments are working together by allocating approximately $5.7 billion for improving rural school infrastructure and recruiting teachers. With more qualified teachers and better infrastructure, a better school environment will be in place for children in these areas.

  10. In addition to the issue of poor infrastructure of schools in rural areas, many children must travel far to attend school. Consequently, the government launched Samagra Shiksha, the first integrated scheme extending unified support to states from preschool to senior level. Under this program, preschool has a newfound priority. Girls from disadvantaged areas are also provided with more attention in terms of education. This is a step toward new programs that aim at improved education in India.

– Furaha Njoroge
Photo: Flickr

Education in India
India, the home of 1.2 billion people, is a vast and diverse country. While the overall literacy rates have been on the upward trend recently, rising from 64.8 percent in 2001 to 74 percent in 2011, there are still approximately 1.7 million children who are out of primary school.

Education in India

Within the country, there are also vast differences in the literacy rates among the different regions and states. The highest ranking state by literacy in the country in Kerala with 93.9 percent while the lowest ranking state, Bihar, has a literacy rate at 63.8 percent.

The main barriers that prevent children from accessing education in India are poverty, gender discrimination and lack of resources in schools as teachers lack training and schools are overcrowded. On the national level, 41 percent of schools lack basic hygiene service. There is either no facility or no water. The gap between male and female literacy rates has shrunk from 21.59 percent in 2001 to 16.68 percent in 2011 and the increase in literacy during the same period is 6.9 percent for boys and 11.8 percent for girls. However, there is still a persisting gap in the overall literacy rates as 82.1 percent of males are literate compared to 65.5 percent of females.

Child Labor

Children from marginalized underprivileged groups face other barriers to accessing education in India. They are often victims of trafficking, sexual and labor exploitation as well as domestic service. Some are forced to work to repay family debts. Forced child labor in India is primarily in the garment-making and quarrying industries.

Some children also perform dangerous work producing bricks. According to UNICEF, around 11 percent of children between the ages of 5 and 14 are working. The government has made efforts to deal with child labor, passing legislation such as the Child Labor Act, but the problem persists.

OSCAR Foundation’s Work

The OSCAR (Organization for Social Change, Awareness and Responsibility) Foundation aims to keep children in school by teaching underprivileged children from the poorest communities life skills and values through football. Children in the program learn not only to play the game but, more importantly, to value the education that empowers them to reach their full potential. The kids involved in OSCAR’s programs go on to become role models and make a positive change in their communities.

Akshay Chavan, a 16-year-old boy, has been with the organization for seven years. He is a player, coach and leader, currently pursuing his Bachelor’s degree in Commerce in St. Xavier’s college in Mumbai. As a young child, he suffered from an injury with lots of complications. In the 2017 Annual Report for OSCAR Akshay confessed: “On the first day itself, I felt welcomed. The coaches encouraged me to play, and the rest of the team was very supportive. They motivated me when I felt low. I developed a strong connection with OSCAR friends and started feeling confident enough to fight for myself.”

Founded in 2006, this nonprofit organization’s main goal is to prevent children from dropping out of school and improving education in India. So far, they have directly or indirectly impacted over 3,000 children in states like Maharashtra, Karnataka, Jharkhand and Ut Delhi. The organization nurtures and develops children’s talents and encourages them to become leaders and responsible citizens. OSCAR has three core programs: Young Leader’s Programme, Football Programme and Education Programme.

The Young Leader’s Programme aims to give young children the opportunity to create their own careers and make a change in their communities. Children older than 17 years in the football program who show potential to be good leaders are selected and go through a training process of workshops in football coaching and personal development.

The Football Programme teaches children from ages 5 through 22 not only football skills but also how to be consistent and value their education and focuses on girl’s empowerment.

The Education Programme is specifically aimed at children who struggle in school and provides them with educational assistance. They currently help 400 children in subjects like Hindi, Maths and English. As part of that program, the Foundation has three projects. They provide tuition and additional classes to pupils who experience difficulties in learning, teach children computer skills and offers scholarships to children from low-income families to complete their higher secondary education.

Poverty Alleviation

Over 30 percent of the world’s children living in extreme poverty are located in India. While everyone is negatively affected by poverty, children suffer the most detrimental effects. Living in poverty stunts their development, limits their access to education and keeps generations stuck in the cycle. Low-income communities have other issues related to poverty like substance abuse, early childhood marriage and gambling because education also influences morality.

Education and literacy’s positive outcomes are endless. They are linked to an overall improvement of the quality of life- life expectancy, infant mortality, nutritional levels, migration and other aspects of life. The OSCAR Foundation started out by addressing community issues in the Ambedkar Nagar slum in Mumbai and has grown to reach thousands of young people. By doing something as simple as holding several football sessions a week, they are transforming children’s lives and constantly improving children’s education in India.

– Aleksandra Sirakova
Photo: Flickr

girls' education in India
Education is a necessary component for the growth of a nation and educating girls still continues to be a problem in most developing countries. India has made quite considerable progress with an overall increase in literacy rates from 64.8 percent in 2001 to 74.04 percent in 2011, but girls’ education in India still requires improvement in a number of ways.

The Current Situation in India

The literacy rate of women, according to 2011 census, is 64.46 percent while the male literacy rate is 82.14 percent. The top states that have the largest number of literate women in India are Kerala (92 percent), Mizoram (89.4 percent), Lakshadweep (88.2 percent), Tripura (83.1 percent) and Goa (82 percent). At the same time, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal have the largest number of women entrepreneurs in the nation.

The states that include the lowest female literacy numbers are Rajasthan (52.66 percent), followed by Bihar (53.33 percent), Jharkhand (56.21 percent) and Jammu and Kashmir (58.01 percent). Though there has been a substantial increase in the number of literate women in the past few years, the number still falls low for the entire nation.

How This Situation Arose

One of the main reasons for the lack of girls’ education in India is the male-dominated society. Even though the country is making progress, the belief that women belong in the home is still widely held.

Gender inequality is a very serious issue in the Asian nation, which is why 10 million female babies have been aborted over the past 20 years. A son’s education is given more importance because it is thought that daughters will eventually get married and live with their husband, so many believe that a girl’s education is not of much help directly to her family.

Addressing Girls’ Education in India

The government has taken numerous strategies to improve girls’ education in India:

  1. Beti bachao, beti padhao (Save daughters, educate daughters) was conceived in 2015, which addresses the issue of the declining Child Sex Ratio (number of females per thousand males aged zero to six) across the country. It is a joint initiative by the Ministry of Women and Child Development, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and the Ministry of Human Resources. This strategy works to stop female foeticide, increase the number of girls attending schools, decrease school dropouts, implement rules regarding the right to education and increase the construction of toilets for girls.
  2. Progress has been made in the northwestern part of India, especially in Rajasthan. New literacy efforts have been made to boost the number of girls attending school and a summer coding camp aims to introduce computers to girls.Michael Daube, an American artist and founder of a New York-based nonprofit, is raising money for an all girls’ school. Furthermore, Manhattan Architect Diana Kellogg is building an exhibition hall where female artists can display and sell their products, thus increasing employment.
  3. Jharkhand has taken a big initiative toward female education upliftment. The Jharkhand School of Education has decided on distributing free textbooks, uniforms and notebooks to all girl students from grades nine through 12.
  4. Gurgaon, located in the Indian state of Haryana, aims to provide free education to girls in grades nine through 12.
  5. The Uttar Pradesh government plans to provide a monetary incentive of 30,000 rupees to female students who have an outstanding performance in intermediate or equivalent state examinations.
  6. UNICEF is also working with the Indian government to provide quality education for all girls. As a result, Bihar has now made girls’ education a priority. A new program has been initiated in Bihar which includes education for daughters and thousands of girls are now attending school.

The situation in India may seem daunting but it is steadily progressing with time. With hope, in the coming years, girls’ education in India will achieve new heights.

 – Shweta Roy
Photo: Flickr