Private Education in India

Despite an impressive adult literacy rate of 71.2 percent, the public education system in India is struggling, with half of primary-aged students unable to read a basic text and two thirds unable to do basic math. Consequently, over the last eight years there has been a definite decrease in public school enrollment in India, with a 10 percent drop in primary school enrollment from 2008 to 2014. Though 62 percent of primary-school students do still attend public school, the overall decrease in attendance is attributed to a 35 percent rise in private education in India, as parents seek better educational opportunities for their children.

In 2016, over 58 percent of Indians cited a preference for private education due to a “better environment of learning.” Additionally, 22.4 percent of rural respondents and 18.6 percent of urban respondents also asserted that the quality of public education is not satisfactory. Such is why some 300,000 low-cost private schools have sprang up across the country in an effort to address the desire for better education and capitalize on the market for it.

Yet, these low-cost private schools lack a universal curriculum and set of standards, causing inconsistencies in education. This results in varying levels of opportunity for further education due to irregularities in what has previously been learned. In an effort to address this issue of non-existent universality, an organization called Standard of Excellence in Education and Development (SEED) has arisen.

SEED addresses these inconsistencies by partnering with underperforming low-cost private schools to provide standardized curriculums and teacher training to improve the overall education offered. Its focus is on technology-driven curriculum, with an emphasis on social development, through the implementation of school-based extracurricular activities. Further, SEED’s teacher trainings aim to both support and advance teachers by providing lesson plans and information on innovative teaching methods.

All of these initiatives work to improve the quality of education within these low-cost private schools, with the hopes of eventually creating a system of standardization for them as well. Though public education is overtly struggling, private education in India is both on the rise and improving along the way. With 6.4 million students within its borders, the work of organizations like SEED could not be more crucial to shaping the future of the nation and our world.

Kailee Nardi

Photo: Google

Education in QatarWhile Qatar’s location — Surrounded by Saudi Arabia, Iran, Kuwait, and Iraq — makes it a hot spot of human rights violations and war, education in the country is blossoming.

Public education in Qatar was first established in 1952. Since then, the Muslim nation has created entities to preserve the heritage and uphold the integrity of the nation.

One such body is the Supreme Education Council (SEC). Dedicated to creating, “Education for a New Era,” the SEC focuses on modernizing standards and making education highly accessible, regardless of economic status. The SEC also subsidizes independent schools, which cover elementary, intermediary, and secondary educational stages.

Within the public sector, there is a specialization of education exclusively for boys, which include a religious institute, a secondary school of commerce, and a secondary school of technology.

Additionally, the SEC created several institutes concentrating on special education. Originally separated by gender, the Al Amal School for Boys and Al Amal School for Girls now provide an education for both genders.

Qatar also offers many private and public universities, including Qatar University, Weill Cornell College of Medicine in Qatar, Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar, and Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service.

In order to achieve Qatar’s 2030 national vision in human development, education in Qatar focuses on the exploration of information and communication technology, both in the learning and teaching processes.

To create this vision, Qatar has developed the Exploring ICT Education Conference. Now in its seventh year, the keynote speakers gave presentations addressing topics such as digital literacy, Lego EV3 robotics, and security awareness.

One of the most recent initiatives to increase education standards and development in Qatar is the leading nonprofit Qatar Foundation that serves the people of Qatar by supporting and operating programs in three essential areas: education, science and research, and community expansion.

The nonprofit organization is responsible for collaborations, such as seminars to promote intercultural communication at the Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar University’s, which were held in July.

Education in Qatar is rapidly growing. With the aid and support of the government, the education sector demonstrates the potential to provide access to high-quality education for all, as well as the ability of traditions to be modernized, while maintaining their integrity.

Veronica Ung-Kono

Photo: Flickr

The World Bank reports that low teacher effectiveness causes children attending public schools in Latin America and the Caribbean to miss the equivalent of one school day every week. Public education in Latin America is plagued by teacher absenteeism, low pay and poor school leadership; all contribute to this troubling inefficiency.

Latin America has enjoyed significant growth in recent years, paving the way for the reduction of poverty and inequality, yet in order for the region’s economic engine to continue running efficiently, its youth must have access to educational resources.

The recent World Bank study, “Great Teachers: How to Raise Student Learning in Latin America and the Caribbean,” draws on data from over 14,000 classrooms in seven countries in the region. It seeks to determine how teachers, who make up 20 percent of Latin America’s labor force, can improve their performance given the significant role they play in regional economic development.

Barbara Burns, the author of the report, states that “virtually all countries in the region appear trapped in a low-level equilibrium of low standards for entry into teaching, relatively low and undifferentiated salaries, weak instruction in the classroom and poor educational outcomes … moving to a high-level equilibrium will be difficult but it is an effort that the region can’t afford to postpone.”

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) test, a standardized assessment of students on a global scale, reveals that Latin American and Caribbean children fall short in the middle-income category, yet researchers estimate that if Mexico raised its PISA performance to the level attained by the average German student, the country’s gross domestic product could jump two percentage points.

The World Bank publication determines that public schools in Latin America need better and younger teachers. Teacher salaries in the region are consistently lower than salaries in other professional fields, meaning motivation can be lacking. Additionally, data from university entrance exams show that although students pursuing education degrees receive high levels of formal education, they have been found to possess weaker cognitive skills.

The good news is that teacher quality has become a major development focus of Latin American countries in recent years, while researchers and academics are communicating just how essential education is to continued economic development and poverty reduction.

Kayla Strickland

Sources: Kansas City infoZine, Plano Informativo
Photo: Plano Informativo

Poverty in the Dominican Republic
More than a third of the Dominican Republic lives on less than $1.25 a day and over 20 percent of the country lives in extreme poverty.  Most of the poverty in the Dominican Republic is concentrated in the rural areas.  The rural poverty rate is about three times as high as the urban poverty rate.


Causes of Poverty in the Dominican Republic


Though the economy has been growing since 1996, economic inequality remains a major problem.  Since the government does not provide more than 4 percent of GDP spending on education, only 30 percent of children finish primary school.  In a system where education is the road to the middle class, creating economic barriers to education perpetuates a system of institutional inequality.

Half of the country does not have access to clean water, and over half of the country does not have sanitary toilets. Healthcare is expensive and hard to find in rural areas.

Since the main industry of the Dominican Republic is tourism, rural areas are often overlooked when it comes to government investment.  Though rural communities depend on the farming industry, the government has not done much to address the low agricultural productivity.  Farmers often do not own enough land to manage subsistence farming, making income-generating agriculture impossible.  Although there is technology available to increase crop production, rural farmers simply do not have access to these resources due to financial circumstances.

Natural disasters, including hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes, and mudslides, constantly threaten rural areas.  Much of the rural infrastructure has collapsed due to natural disasters

Though President Danilo Medina has promised to spend more on education, he has said little about his plans to increase agricultural production, increase access to healthcare, and provide aid to rural communities.  With a strong focus on tourism, the majority of the nine million people who call the Dominican Republic home are stuck in poverty.

– Stephanie Lamm

Photo: Sleeping My Way To Bliss
Huffington Post, World Bank, OPHI, Rural Poverty Portal, World Bank

In the summer of 1996 as an eight year old boy, I was privileged to venture into downtown Atlanta during the Summer Olympic Games. I was amazed at my firsthand sight of the many sporting arenas, housing for international athletes, hotels and other buildings that were built in anticipation for the summer games. At that time I was not aware of the amount of money that was being spent for construction, security, planning and promotions by the city of Atlanta and other private enterprises to stage this worldwide event.

In anticipation for the Games, the city of Atlanta spent $209 million alone on the building of Olympic Stadium, an 85,000 seat stadium that held track and field events and the opening and closing ceremonies of the games. At the conclusion of the Olympics about 30,000 seats were removed from the stadium so that it could be converted into a baseball field, which was a more viable use of the venue. The renovated baseball stadium was renamed Turner Field and became the new home of the Atlanta Braves for the start of the 1997 season.

Since its completion, Turner Field has hosted 81 games each summer for the relatively successful Atlanta Braves and their passionate fan base. At only 17 years old, Turner Field is still newer than 14 of the other 29 ball parks used in Major League Baseball. It is still fully operational and relatively new but the Atlanta Braves are not pleased with the venue. On November 11 of this year, the Atlanta Braves announced that they had partnered with nearby Cobb County, Georgia for the building of a new baseball stadium, set to cost $672 million, of which $450 million is to be publicly financed by the county.

Atlanta’s stadium saga is just one example of municipalities that face the debate of the benefits of publicly financed stadiums. Proponents of them promise an increase in public revenue for the city in the form conventions, sporting events, jobs and retail shopping, but years of outside research has proven to be inconclusive on the economic impact of such projects. In 2017, 20 years after the completion of the once-proud stadium, the city of Atlanta will demolish Turner Field and use the land for another project.

Publicly Financed Stadiums are a risky bet for municipalities that could use the same funds for other more noble investments such as infrastructure improvements and education. Ironically Cobb County is the same county that is currently facing a $78 million deficit in its school system but is willing to fund $450 million on a baseball field. Time will tell if the diversion of funds for education towards a new stadium will be a wise investment for the community of Cobb County.

Travis Whinery