With more than 1.5 million schools, 260 million enrolments and 12 million teachers, India has the largest, most diverse and complicated learning systems in the world.
While access to education has been an enormous success story and is now nearly universal, children are not learning well, and the trend has been worrying — 52.2% of students in Class 5 cannot read a Class 2 level text, and 74.1% cannot solve a division problem.
In the process of researching the gaps in education, solutions, and funding landscape with AVPN, Sattva discovered many exciting and innovative solutions that address unmet needs and work with multiple stakeholders across the ecosystem — be it students, teachers, schools or the broader community — that focus on ‘outcomes’ for learning.
Here are ten ways in which the education space is being transformed today through simple and effective solutions:
- Teachers as agents of change: STIR Education
STIR uses peer-to-peer learning to motivate and re-inspire teachers, by building localised teacher networks that enable them to become a solution to the learning crisis.
These networks support the practice of classroom improvement principles and techniques, as well as ensure a support system that aids teachers in seeing themselves as agents of change in classrooms.
- Storytelling to build student entrepreneurs: Going to School
Going to School celebrates the intrinsic value of story-telling through graphic novels, games, apps, movies, digital games and television shows. A team of writers, teachers and artists governed by design-thinking, Going to School works with government school systems to impart critical entrepreneurial skills.
They also run a news service run by children for children called ‘Scrappy News’, which has filmed 30 episodes for national television!
- Children as agents of change: Bharti Foundation
Source: Max Pixel
A philanthropic endeavour of Bharti Enterprises Group, Bharti Foundation works on improving the quality of education in rural India by nurturing children to be agents of change and focussing on holistic development.
While the efforts of the foundation have resulted in an improvement in academic performance, the more significant impact has been in the initiatives they take in their communities for transformation.
- A bridge between education and employability: Salaam Bombay Foundation
Most children drop out at secondary education level, and the Salaam Bombay Foundation is working to correct that and set children on the right course.
Working within the existing infrastructure of municipal secondary schools, they interact with children who risk losing their childhood to substance abuse and child labour, conducting leadership and life-skill programmes.
Salaam Bombay Foundation’s vocational education programme takes an experiential approach to skilling teenagers in professions such as umpiring, sports coaching or dancing while imparting life skills to them.
- ‘Bal Sabhas’ to inculcate better student citizenship: Kaivalya Education Foundation
KEF works with government schools on transforming student learning outcomes through school leaders, by providing leadership training to school principals through their three–year School Leadership Development Programme.
The programme covers on-site coaching and field support, activity-based workshops to internalise newly learnt techniques, as well as a peer network to reflect on sessions and discuss problems together.
KEF also uses peer-to-peer learning during Bal Sabhas, or assemblies for children, which offer a healthy environment to interact with peers, while introducing complex ideas through interactive mediums like debates and skits.
- Encouraging budget private schools: SEED schools
SEED stands for Standard of Excellence in Education Development, a social enterprise that dedicates funds to increase the quality of education in affordable private schools that otherwise attract limited funding due to their splintered nature.
SEED focuses on infusing the curriculum with technological innovations and developing creative lessons.
- Tech for visually impaired: Innovision
28% of children with special needs in India do not go to school. A large share that does, drops out quickly, as they are unable to fit in.
Innovision is taking a simple tech approach towards solving this problem and has created a low-cost smart Braille assistant, ‘BrailleMe’, to improve digital access to those with visual impediments.
Using a screen that is perceptible to touch, the device can be used as standalone and also as an assistant to other digital devices, like the computer or laptop. This enables children with disabilities to access the system, one where they are otherwise ignored.
- Giving migrant children a chance to learn: Mobile Creches
Estimates place the number of urban migrant children at about 15 million, 90% of whom are excluded from accessing education. Mobile Creches recognises the malnutrition and neglect of children living in spaces that double as residential areas – construction sites, street pavements and slums.
With parents working towards daily wages and without access to childcare or schools, Mobile Creches ensures that the overlapping concerns of women, children and workers are met by establishing creches and Balwadis within brick walls and tin roofs.
Older children attend NFE (non-formal education) classes, where they learn basic arithmetic and language, while toddlers engage in activities that stimulate their cognitive development.
- Getting the first steps right: Akshara Foundation
24% of Indian children between 3-5 years of age do not have any access to early childhood education (ECE), though the early years of a child’s life last a lifetime in learning terms.
Akshara addresses this issue through ‘joyful learning’ facilitated by their ‘Prepare not Repair’ programme, aimed at pre-schoolers. They train teachers to follow a research-based, structured pre-school curriculum that will support development across several spheres of cognitive and emotional growth during early childhood.
The best part is the community members, who run Balwadis from the confines of their own homes, making it easy for children to attend and experience simple activities.
- Bringing lessons to life: Swami Vivekananda Youth Movement
India so far has seen a poor uptake of the Apprenticeship Act, a transformational idea instituted by the government to develop skilled youth by offered them on-the-job training.
With one million joining the workforce in India every month, and yet only 400,000 apprentices participating to date, there is hugely underutilised potential. Swami Vivekananda Youth Movement (SVYM), an organisation focused on realising human potential, has a unique Viveka Scholar programme which tries to match skilled, meritorious youth with internship opportunities.
While not a comprehensive list, these organisations reflect the range and sheer scale of innovation and creativity emerging from those who are passionate about creating sustainable models of education in India.
(Written by Sattva)