From the desk of Editor-in-Chief

Realizing Education

One Sixth of the world’s population nearly 855 million people are illiterate and over 130 million children in the developing countries do not get basic education facilities. Article 26 of Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948, states ‘everyone has the right to free education at least at the elementary and the fundamental stages and it shall be compulsory’. Passing of the Right to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 which puts Right of Education at par with the ‘Right to Life’ and thus India became one of the 135 countries to make education a fundamental right for its citizen when the Act came into force on 1st April 2010. According to the United Nation Economic Social and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the position of RTE, 2009 was at the forefront in the year 1990 with its agenda. Even the ‘Darker Forum’ has talked about six goals which were very important and affordable as- Improving early childhood care & basic education, ensuring good quality of education for girls & ethnic minorities in different circumstances, equal access of education to young people and adults through skill programs, to achieve 50% improvement in the literacy level of women, to eliminate gender inequality in primary & secondary education with equality and good quality of education and to improve all the aspects of quality education especially in literacy & numeracy.
NITI Aayog, the think tank of Indian Government has recommended in its ‘Strategy for New India@75’ report on December 19, 2018 that the spending on education should be increased to minimum six percent of GDP by 2022 in comparison to 3.8 percent of GDP which is even lesser than the world average of about 4.7 percent.

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According to the RTE Act, enrollment in formal schools should begin at age six with Early Childhood Education, (ECE) included in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for 2030 recommended for children between the age group of three and six. SDG Target 4.1 by 2030, countries should ensure that all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education leading to relevant and effective learning outcomes. ASER Reports demonstrated for more than a decade that getting all children into school, while undoubtedly a major achievement does not by itself ensure that children are able to learn at the expected level.
The National Sample Survey (NSS) estimates the percentage of Out of School Children (OOSC) as of September 2014 to be only 3 per cent of the total children between six to 13 years of age. However, between states there is a large section of such OOSC children, who have enrolled in schools but have never attended. Such data throws light on the fact that though we have been able to highlight certain numbers as success indicators, the end benefits have not really percolated to the society at large. There are other social issues like prevention of child labour etc. which is an important area to consider for providing benefits to such OOSC children who are enrolled in schools but never attend. In Haryana and Rajasthan, the numbers of such OOSC students are highest.
The ‘No Detention’ Policy’ which states that no child until class VIII can be held back or expelled from school, was introduced as part of the RTE Act with the ambitious goal of providing an environment for the stress free and holistic development of a child, has come under severe criticism by the states. It is critiqued by many that policies like these work only on paper, as policy makers fail to envision the ground realities and hurdles in their implementation. It has been argued that automatically promoting all children to the next class reduces the incentive for children to learn and for teachers to teach. The Central Advisory Board on Education (CABE, 2014), National Achievement Survey (2012), and the Economic Survey (2016-17) observed declining learning levels in elementary education even after the implementation of the RTE Act.
In order to impart holistic and comprehensive education, the Union Budget 2018-19, has proposed to treat school education holistically without segmentation from pre-nursery to class 12 introduced ‘Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan’, an overarching program for the school education sector with broader goal of improving school effectiveness measured in terms of equal opportunities for schooling and equitable learning outcomes. The program envisions reaching 1.6 million schools in the country through compressive systems of school evaluation.
The adoption of ‘Happiness Curriculum’ in Delhi Government Schools is one of the most positive developments happened in the field of education. It aimed to spread the message that the education is not just to push students getting good marks but also to create an environment where they feel happy, confident and self aware.

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Corporates Paving the Way for Educated India

By Choudhary Sandeep

With the education in India acquiring a new definition each passing year, there is a strong need to uplift education standards at large. A big section of the corporate is today focused on empowering the youngsters in a real manner by making learning interesting and relevant for years to come.

Corporate – A Vital Instrument of Hope and Innovative Approach

While various organisations are known to be working on social issues, a growing section of the corporate feels their members or leaders can be handy in employing innovative approach for an effective education delivery for those who need it desperately.
Through various mechanisms like encouraging volunteering, special camps, establishing interactive programmes with foreign faculty or students or special workshops of specific days or organising study tours to any historical place for students, can be a few methods to make learning interesting.

India Needs Its Distinct Education Model

India has to think of new ways to improve its education system and come up with its own model of improving quality in education, former RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan said it during an interaction hosted by a daily.

Meaningful Education Delivery — The Corporate Way

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Instead of donating food or clothes or doing artificial help of the needy people, a number of corporate and the NGOs are focused on building a knowledgeable society through educated youth. Thus, their focus is to take education to the last-mile and also impart information or perform an enabler’s role in an impactful manner.
The intention is to deliver something which remains relevant years after receiving it instead of turning obsolete.
According to Priyadarshini Nigam, Director and Head-CSR, Newgen Software, we believe that Corporate Social Responsibility is not charity or mere donations but a way of doing business as usual while creating shared values and contributions for social and environmental good. We have taken the education route to contribute to the society. Remember Nobel Laureate and anti-Apartheid Leader Nelson Mandela once said: “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
“Newgen’s CSR journey commenced 12 years ago, in 2006 and Sadbhavna was set up to support the education of less-privileged children and equip them with basic life skills. It later encouraged us to start our core CSR initiative, Newgen Digital Discovery Paathshala (NDDP)”.
“Started in 2016, NDDP is Newgen’s flagship CSR initiative. It’s a program being implemented for the students of some of the Government Schools in Delhi to imbibe digital literacy, using i-Pads, amongst the target students and provide them with a life-long skill to survive in the fast paces technological advancements,” Nigam added.
NDDP was designed to develop research oriented skills amongst students studying in government run schools and to impart them knowledge through web-based technology. This stems from the company’s Chairman and Managing Director, Diwakar Nigam’s vision to transform classroom sessions into fun-learning activities and to make the learning more meaningful.
The objective behind it is to stimulate young minds through modern-day IT innovations, like iPads and the internet. The facilitators use various methodologies to impart knowledge such as role plays, quiz sessions, movies, and presentations while conducting the sessions.

F.C. Sondhi Charitable Trust

Another notable organization is F. C. Sondhi Charitable Trust, existing since 1978, it offers grants to the needy and scholarships and books to students, enabling individuals to realise their dreams.
As shared with The Bridge India India by Neena Sondhi, Director CSR, FC Sondhi Charitable Trust it distributed – Rs. 11,31,800 as scholarship to 248 students, and Rs. 16,07,360 as grant to 370 beneficiaries. It is also promoting scholarship to sports & differently abled people and also gives 10 sports scholarships to encourage budding talent.
Its parent company F.C. Sondhi & Co. (India) Pvt. Ltd. looks after its employees and their children and provides scholarships to everyone as — For School-goers (up to class 10th), For College-goers (from class 11th to Graduation), For Technical Courses like diploma, Professional Courses & Post Graduation.

SBI Foundation

The SBI Foundation aims to be the leading institution for promoting growth and equality in the country. One of its focus areas is education. It has undertaken various programmes such as SBI Foundation has partnered with Education Support Organisation (ESO) to further the common goal of providing quality education to slum children.
SBI foundation has also started 200 BETI PADAO KENDRAs (BPK) in association with IIMPACT, an NGO started by alumni of 1978 batch of IIM Ahmadabad. These Beti Padao Kendras are aimed at imparting basic education (up to class 5th) to girl children in remote rural areas where there are no formal schools.
It has also started 50 “Digital Class” in Government schools in Telangana’s Medak district to provide digital technology to rural poor children studying in Government schools. The digital class consists of a projector, which doubles up as a computer provides A/V converted curriculum. Complex theories and concepts become easy to understand via video content.
Also, Bodh Shiksha Samiti’s Bodhshala project is in alignment with the SBI Foundation’s Focus area of providing and promoting education to underprivileged section of the society in rural India.

DELL

Dell has dedicated funds, technology and expertise globally to further empower and enable interested youth from around the world to explore STEM fields.
Among its partnership programmes with American India Foundation –nearly $600,000 were donated to the foundation, which enables technology-based classroom teaching methods across six states in India. The in-person programmes benefit over 90,000 youths, and satellite programmes benefit nearly 1,90,000. Part of this donation included product donations of Dell’s Latitude laptops as well as Precision tower desktops.
In essence, with a section of the corporate focusing on boosting education sector in India, there seems a big light illuminating at the end of the dark tunnel of ignorance and deprivation. Certainly, it seems a good omen for building a New India.

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NGOs bear the torch towards educating India

By Bhasker Sharma

The total spend of the central and state governments together on education in India is 2.7% of GDP, which is much lower than spends by its peer BRICS countries. This coupled with the poor state of school education (primary and secondary) and tertiary education, as revealed in various surveys and reports, goes to state that NGOs have a critical role to play in bridging the gap. With the highest % of corporate CSR spend going towards education there are numerous NGOs working in the education space. The Bridge India India takes a peek into the work being done and the challenges faced by few of them.

Light of Life Trust (LOLT)

The Light of Life Trust (LOLT) was founded in 2002 to help empower the most vulnerable sections of the Indian society. Its Anando programmes focused on helping underprivileged children in rural Maharashtra complete their secondary school education, by reinstating school drop outs / probable school drop outs in schools.

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At the first level of the Anando Project teaching and learning methodology has been designed under the Student Friendly Supplementary Education Program (SFSEP). Basic learning in English and Mathematics is taught to the children from Monday to Friday. From the curriculum, teaching and learning material, to capacity building and monitoring quality and impact, all is addressed by different modules under this program. LOLT has its own curriculum devised in line with the standard level or the state board syllabus. With the aim of providing holistic development the children participate in personality development workshops over the weekend.
The Anando program has been successfully replicated in five other districts of Maharashtra and one district in Madhya Pradesh. Currently, 2,427beneficiaries from class 8 to 10 (SSC) are benefiting from these areas. LOLT’s School Empowerment Program to train secondary school teachers in effective classroom processes and modern teaching techniques to ensure every child completes Std X is currently implemented in two talukas of Raigad District i.e. Karjat and Uran and covering 18 schools, 196 teachers and 6054 students.
The challenge of minimizing drop outs at the end of 7th grade in order to earn an income for the family is met by continuous counselling by the field social worker teams of LOLT both on one-on-one basis with parents and close family members of the children as well as fortnightly or monthly community counselling sessions. Another challenge is the large gap in learning resulting in children having a low esteem and a scare factor to continue in school. This is mitigated by building self confidence and other attributes through the weekend personality development workshops. Seasonal migration of the children with their parents is a difficult challenge to address.

Room to Read India

Room to Read India started in 2003 to transform the lives of children in low-income communities by focusing on literacy skills and gender equality in education. RtR works with government schools in Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand and Telangana using a uniquely scaffolded approach to scale in three phases: I DO or “Demonstration” phase, We DO or “Collaboration” phase and You Do or “Expansion” phase.
RtR students can read more than three times as many words by the end of grade 2 than
peers in non-Room to Read program government schools.
Impressed with this achievement, the state governments of Uttarakhand and Chhattisgarh invited RtR to implement its early grade program at scale in their states for five academic years. This began with a pilot partnership in 360 schools across the two states in 2015 and scaled across 1,000 schools in the two states in 2016. Part of the RtR work will enable these governments to implement literacy interventions statewide, benefiting close to 4 million children in the long run.

Prayas Juvenile Aid Centre(JAC) Society

Prayas Juvenile Aid Centre (JAC) Society came into existence in 1988 in a disaster situation when a devastating fire broke out at Jahangirpuri, one of the largest resettlement slums of Delhi, destroying thousands of families who lost their homes and livelihood. The worst affected were the children who were absolutely traumatized and shaken. Prayas’ immediate efforts were to restore normalcy into their lives and rehabilitate them. Recognizing a need for reorganizing and rebuilding the lives of these children, Prayas Juvenile Aid Centre was set up with the collaboration of Delhi School of Social Work, Delhi Police and Shramik Vidyapeeth, Ministry of HRD, GoI.
Presently, run by 800+ professionals, Prayas serves day to day nearly 50,000 beneficiaries, carrying out intensive care outreach programs for the children, youth and women through 246 community based centres in 9 states/ UTs across the nation with direct intervention for the children, youth and women in the need of care and protection through 53 Community Skilling Centres, Shelters, Homes, Helplines for children/women, Crisis Intervention Centres etc. Through its continuously expanding outreach and need-based projects by responding to various socio-economic realities, Prayas has developed an integrated model of development focusing on various thematic areas such as Juvenile justice, Child Protection, Child Abuse, Child Trafficking, Child Labour, Health & Nutrition, Alternative Education, Vocational Training, Economic Empowerment etc. These themes have been developed as and when required by the community and the need of intervention as felt by the social workers.
Prayas is reaching out to the unreached through education programme for children staying in shelter homes and has set up education centers in densely populated slums and communities in areas. Prayas strongly believes that Right to Education for every child should be a reality and needs to be translated into action to bring a visible change through involvement of the people who deserve it most, those who belong to the tertiary sector of life, livelihood as compared to the mainstream of civilization. The children staying in the shelter homes are going to different schools as per their caliber while children in the communities are being helped to continue their schooling.

Pratham Education Foundation

Pratham Education Foundation, founded in 1995, is one of the largest non-governmental organizations that works towards the provision of quality education to the underprivileged children in 21 of 29 states of India.
Pratham’s mission to improve the quality of education in India and ensure that all children not only attend but also thrive in school is being accomplished by working in collaboration with the government, local communities, parents, teachers, volunteers, and civil society members. The programs aim to supplement rather than replace governmental efforts. They are implemented on a large scale to not only reach as many children as possible, but also to create an adoptable demonstration model for state governments.
Pratham’s strategies reconfigure teaching methodologies, break down traditional tactics, and challenge the current rote learning mechanisms in schools through innovative and outcome-driven programs. In its early years Pratham developed innovative teaching-learning methods, materials, and measurement methods. In 2005, Pratham pioneered a nationwide survey of schooling and learning, the Annual Status of Education Report(ASER) that has had a major impact on national and international policy discussions.
Pratham has worked to develop low-cost, replicable models that can easily be spread and adopted by other organizations. Thousands of volunteers work with Pratham to implement learning ‘interventions’ at the grassroots level. All Pratham programs are designed to ensure that learning levels in schools and communities increase, education reaches all children who are in school or unable to use school facilities, and youth gets well trained for job opportunities.
Over the years, Pratham’s advocacy in the education sector has become well recognized and regarded. The Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) has become an important input in the education policies of both the Central and State Governments with several State Governments using the findings to help define their education programs each year. It has also been significant in defining a qualitative agenda in education and is widely acknowledged in government and policy circles inside and outside of India.
There are numerous government schemes and initiatives to improve education. At the same time large number of education related projects are being implementing by corporates spending Rs 2,400 Cr in FY18. Nevertheless, the recent ASER reports show that the needle in terms of infrastructure improvement and learning outcomes is moving very slowly in government schools. There is a dire need for collaboration among corporates and NGOs working in education and alignment with government initiatives to expedite the increase in scale of impact. This can happen with focused and action oriented discussion in industry forums and conferences.

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Transforming the higher education sector in India

By Soma Chakraborty

With a promise of providing “Education for All”, the Narendra Modi-led government has taken a slew of measures to expand the reach of higher education to distant geographies within India and made it available to deprived sections of society at affordable cost. Though there is lot more to be achieved, the endeavours made by the government in the higher education sector are worth taking note of. In an interaction with The Bridge India India, an official of the Ministry of Human Resource and Development shared how well planned and well coordinated initiatives, the government has brought about a metamorphosis in the field of higher education.

By Soma Chakraborty

Aiming at bringing world class institutions within the door steps of each state, the government has started seven new Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs), six new Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and two new Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research (IISERs) in the last four-and-a-half years.
“This is the biggest ever expansion of the premier educational institutions in the country. Nothing on this scale for higher education was attempted during the period 2010-2014 or any time in past,” an MHRD official, told The Bridge India India.

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Besides, the government also set up one National Institute of Technology (NIT) in Andhra Pradesh and one new Central university in Bihar’s Motihari district.
Fulfilling its promise of providing more autonomy to Higher Education Institutes has approved a new law to give IIMs unprecedented levels of academic and administrative freedom. In addition to that, a new regulation passed by the University Grants Commission (UGC) has granted different grades of autonomy to all institutions of higher learning based on their performance.

Higher Education Financing Agency (HEFA)

In order to boost up development of robust higher educational institutions, the government has set up the Higher Education Financing Agency (HEFA) for lending money to institutions to develop world-class infrastructure.
“All higher educational institutions of India will be able to leverage their intellectual capital to finance their infrastructural requirement though HEFA,” an official said.
The creation of HEFA has enabled major investments for creation of high quality infrastructure in premier educational institutions. HEFA would also mobilise CSR funds from PSUs and Corporates, which would in turn be released for promoting research and innovation in higher institutions on grant basis. A total of Rs 2,000 crore have been sanctioned under the HEFA. The HEFA would finance the academic and research infrastructure projects through a 10-year loan.

SWAYAM

To keep pace with the global paradigm shift brought about by digitisation, the higher education department of the HRD Ministry has adopted digital resources and methodologies to improve accessibility, quality and scale. Aiming at taking learning beyond the walls of a classroom to 24×7 e-learning modules, the HRD ministry launched ‘Study Webs of Active Learning for Young Aspiring Minds’ (SWAYAM). It provides one integrated platform and portal for online courses, using information and communication technology (ICT) and covering all higher education subjects and skill sector courses to ensure that every student in the country has access to the best quality higher education at affordable cost.
Indigenously developed by the MHRD and the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) with the help of Microsoft, the innovative platform plans to achieve the three cardinal principles of Education Policy – access, equity and quality.
Also there is another programme, the SWAYAM Prabha, under which 32 DTH channels telecast high quality educational content free of charge to teachers and students.

IMPRINT India

Aiming at directing research in the premier institutions into areas of social relevance, the government launched the Impacting Research Innovation and Technology (IMPRINT) India.
The programme is a pan-IIT and IISc joint initiative to develop a roadmap for research to solve major engineering and technology challenges in ten technology domains — healthcare technology, energy security, rural urban housing design, nano technology, river system, advanced materials, computer science and ICT, manufacturing technology, advanced security and climate change.
“These ten domains represent the most important areas relevant to our country in order to enable, empower and embolden the nation for inclusive growth and self-reliance,” an official said, adding that the programme would expose the best young minds to perform cutting edge research with market competitive remunerations.

Prime Minister Research Fellows

With a view to tap the talent pool of the country for carrying out research in cutting edge science and technology, MHRD launched the Prime Minister’s Research Fellows (PMRF).
Under this Scheme, the best students who have completed or are in the final year of BTech or Integrated MTech or MSc in Science and Technology streams from IISc, IITs, NITs, IISERs and IIITs will be offered direct admission in PhD programme in the IITs or IISc. Such students will be offered a fellowship of Rs 70,000 per month for the first two years, Rs 75,000 per month for the 3rd year, and Rs 80,000 per month in the 4th and 5th years.
Apart from this, a research grant of Rs 2 lakh will be provided to each of the Fellows for a period of five years to cover their foreign travel expenses for presenting research papers in international conferences and seminars.

Research parks

Government has approved setting up of six Research Parks, one each at IIT Gandhinagar, IIT Delhi, IIT Guwahati, IIT Kanpur, IIT Hyderabad, and IISc Bangalore. Research Park model invites entrepreneurs and industry leaders to establish their research and development units at the research park and collaborate with students and faculty members at the institute.

Uchhatar avishkar yojana (UAY)

The Uchhatar Avishkar Yojana (UAY) is another innovative programme launched to promote industry-specific need-based research so as to keep up the competitiveness of the Indian industry in the global market. All the IITs have been encouraged to work with the industry to identify areas where innovation is required and come up with solutions that could be brought up to the commercialization level. Under the UAY, Rs 250 crore are invested every year on identified projects proposed by IITs, provided the Industry contributes 25% of the project cost.

The way ahead

No doubt government has taken a slew of innovative approach to optimise higher education and change the country’s education model, however, still it has a long way to go before our education system becomes at par with the developed nations. Nevertheless, with boost from the government the demand for using innovative delivery mechanisms is expected to increase resulting in an unprecedented growth of the education sector in the near future.

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Development Happenings

By The Bridge India India Correspondent

Silver Jubilee Celebrations

Rasta, a Non Governmental Organization, existing since 1994 and working in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana, for the welfare and development through interventions in Education, Health, Vocational Training and Women Empowerment celebrated its Silver Jubilee along with the ‘National Girl’s Child Day’ on 24th January 2019 in New Delhi. Inaugurating the Silver Jubilee Celebrations, Smt.Nandini Singh, a prominent Kathak dancer, congratulated Rasta on its achievements in the field of empowerment of girls and Women. She was very much impressed with the cultural performance of the children and congratulated and wished Rasta many more years of fruitful functioning.
Various cultural programmes on the theme of girl child empowerment were performed by the Rasta School students. About 350 people, mainly from Rasta’s stakeholder organizations, namely, Corporates like HCL Foundation and Max Foundation, Public Sector Undertakings like ONGC, Agricultural Insurance Corporation, other supporting partners and well wishers attended the programme.

Union HRD Minister through Video Conferencing inaugurated a two –day workshop on Leadership Development in Higher Education for Vice-Chancellors

A two-day Workshop on Leadership Development in Higher Education for Vice-Chancellors was organized by National Institute of Educational Planning and Administration (NIEPA) in New Delhi. Union Minister for Human Resource Development Shri Prakash Javadekar inaugurated the workshop through Video Conferencing. The workshop focused on strategies to improve quality education through sharing of ideas, experiences, case studies and action plans at institutional and national levels.
While addressing the Vice Chancellors, the Minister said that our future action plan should focus on improving quality education, developing infrastructure, promoting research environment, promoting usage of technology, etc, to take our institutions to the next higher level. He added that a regular monitoring and seeking reports from different committees should be done in a timely manner.
The Minister advised all the Vice Chancellors that as the leader they must discuss with all the stakeholders like teacher, administration and the students, in any decision making process. He stressed upon the need for the teachers to build a bond with the students to ensure their all round development. He said that there is a need to deliberate upon ways to strengthen the faculty, enhance their competency to deal with managing the changed social and technological context of teaching and learning. He said through this workshop, rich experiences need to be shared and good practices followed in one university should be followed by another set of universities. The Minister expressed the hope that deliberations at this workshop will lead to the constructive education for the empowerment of students.

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