Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world. – Nelson Mandela.
This is one of my favourite quotes and something that I strongly believe in; education truly has the power to change and transform lives positively.
Vyasarpadi is a locality in Chennai. The area is notorious for its gangsters and the area for a long time was a conflict zone with frequent clashes between law enforcement officials and gangsters. The biggest casualty in this fight were the youngsters who grew up in the shadows of the gangsters and hoodlums. For them a normal life was never a reality and they would eventually grow and turn into gangsters. A few years back concerted efforts were taken to encourage children to go to school. The government is trying its best to support children and things are definitely improving. Private organizations like Slum Children Sports Talents Education Development Society and Child Relief and You are taking efforts to encourage children with sports like football to improve the lives of children.
The results are here to see, from, a few children turning up for classes and sports; today the government school in the area sees good attendance and the number of children turning up for sports classes in the evening is positive. The police say incidents of juvenile crime have come down and the locality is slowly shedding its tag of being a ‘dark and shady’ place.
Given below are some more key points on why education matters and has the power to bring about positive changes. Please note that these points have been extracted from the Global Education Monitoring(GEM) Report 2016, issued by UNESCO.
- Education reduces working poverty: It affects almost 90% of workers in low income countries. Increasing tertiary education in 10 recent EU member states would reduce numbers at risk of poverty by 3.7 million.
- Education helps reduce inequality in cities by giving people vital skills for work: Street vendors make up one-third of urban employment in India and one-sixth in South Africa.
- Tertiary education is required to sustain and expand high-skills occupations: In 2015, two-thirds of workers were employed in medium skills occupations.
- Education needs to keep up with labour market needs: By 2020 the world could have 40 million too few workers with tertiary education, relative to demand.
- Education improves health and reduces fertility rates: Educating mothers increased reliance on exclusive breastfeeding by 90% for the first six months.
- Four years more in school in Nigeria reduced fertility rates by one birth per young girl.
- Health and nutrition improve education: Female literacy rates were 5% higher for those with better access to water in India.
- In Kenya, girls who received de-worming treatment were 25% more likely to pass the primary school exam.
- In the United States, if 5% more men graduated from high school it would add US$20 billion to the economy via reduced crime and higher earnings.
All this proves the premise of the title of this blog post; – “Education has the power to heal and transform lives.”
Challenges in School Education in India
The big challenge in developing countries is the vast divide between urban cities and the rural villages and tier-3 and tier-4 towns. In a country like India, this is of added significance as a vast majority of our population still lives in villages and towns and the big cities are being stretched to their limits in accommodating people.
A report from Ernst & Young India, gives us some incredible stats:
- The current K-12 school system in India is one of the largest in the world with more than 1.4 million schools with 250+ million students enrolled.
- 25% of all K-12 schools in India are private schools, accounting for 40% share in student enrolment.
- Primary Schools constitute 57% of all schools; upper primary schools form 10%; primary with upper primary form 19% while secondary/ higher secondary form 14%.
- 137 million students enrolled in primary level constitute 54% of all students enrolled in K-12 schools.
- 96% of K-12 schools in India are affiliated to state boards, 1% to CBSE, 0.1% TO CISCE and 2% are unrecognized.
- India has more than 339,000 private K-12 schools, growing in the last five years at a CAGR of 4%.
- Low learning levels pose serious questions over the quality of education; school children opting for paid supplemental help
- Lack of adequate infrastructure, poor facilities and shortage of quality resources impact the quality of education
- High teacher vacancies, lack of training and high pupil-teacher ratio affect the quality of delivery
Now how does one create an ideal atmosphere for learning, the vast majority of private schools charge a hefty sum as fees and compete with one another in claiming and offering value-added learning, extra-curricular activities and all-round development of students. There are government schools around the country that are shutting down for the lack of students and teachers. Infrastructure, operational costs, salaries, administrative problems all indicate the massive disconnect that exists in terms of what we see in powerful advertising campaigns and ground reality.
Using Technology as a Bridge to Enable Learning
Think how convenient it would be for a village school to have a couple of tablet devices for students filled with interactive animated lessons. Or one connected desktop computer that the teacher could use to teach children in class, connecting with students and teachers in cities or other countries and discuss ideas! Technology opens up a whole new world of possibilities to enable learning. One key challenge has been network connectivity, which is being addressed by private telecom operators and the government and efforts are underway to bring mobile network connectivity in even the most remote corners of the country. Where regular internet connectivity is lacking; digital learning resources can be downloaded, stored and played offline to ensure that students receive an enhanced learning experience.
India Grid for Learning – India’s first single sign-on educational marketplace!
At India Grid for Learning, we believe that technology is the best way to connect students and teachers. Providing children with access to quality learning resources is one of our key goals.
India Grid for Learning works as an integrated and unified learning platform offering a wide variety of learning resources. The advantage of the platform is that schools can choose from a given list of more than 300 resources/connectors that would work best for their students. The list of resources cover areas as diverse as – English Grammar, Communication Skills, Maths, Science, History, Geography, French, dedicated learning resources for teachers and much more. If your institution has a 1 MBPS dedicated broadband line, it is more than sufficient to run the IGfL platform with ease. The platform runs on the ‘cloud’ and is completely secure. We help train your IT Administrators and ensure that IGfL works seamlessly at your institution.
If you manage an educational institution and would like to introduce your students to a fascinating world of learning resources, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org.