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Pratham believes that the problem is grave, but solutions exist
 
Even after 68 years of independence, India is beset by serious problems with its education system. Numerous research studies and surveys have substantiated these problems and prove that immediate attention and action is required.
 
Rat race, rote learning, and poor teacher training

Modern education in India is often criticized for encouraging rote learning, rather than comprehension, critical thinking, and problem solving. Students spend most of their time memorizing a syllabus with no thought given to learning or playing. Textbook knowledge, rigid ideas, and test scores take precedence over open debates and logical reasoning. Little room is left for creativity to thrive.

 

Moreover, there are growing concerns about student learning outcomes, teacher training, curriculum quality, assessment of learning achievements, and the efficacy of school management. Faced with such problems, many children drop out of school before even completing five years of primary education. Those children who do stay on often learn little.

 

Most resources and research are directed towards improving quantifiable factors such as enrolment, dropout rates, teacher-to-student ratios, etc. while not enough has been done to examine the quality of education given to India's children.

 
ASER Report
Each year the ASER report is released with detailed inferences from the largest non-governmental household survey on education levels in rural India. The past three years have revealed excellent enrolment numbers, but the results on learning outcomes have been far less promising. The ASER 2013 report shows that barely 47% of children in grade 5 could read a grade 2 level text.
 
Need for quality pre-primary and primary education

Pratham's experience in the education sector shows that the first step towards universal primary education lies in universal pre-school education. This plays a pivotal role in laying a strong foundation for a child's intellectual, physical, and social development.

 

Learning reading, writing, and other basic learning skills during primary education is essential for a child's success in higher education and ensures a reduction in drop-out rates.

 
Limitations and challenges of the RTE Act

In 2010, the Right to Education Act (RTE) was passed by the Indian government, recognizing the importance of education and making it a 'fundamental right' for every child. The RTE made education free and compulsory for all children between 6 and 14 years old.

 

Though the RTE has increased enrolment rates, its effects on learning are up for debate. The relaxed classroom rigour and no-exam format it encourages may be an obstacle to achieving desirable learning levels. The act also focuses on inputs — infrasturcture, teacher qualifications and compensation, standardized textbooks, curricula, etc. — more than on important outcomes such as the quality of education. While the former is certainly required, it is not enough to address the problems within India's education system.

 

We can applaud some aspects of the RTE, but we must also acknowledge the many limitations that prevent it from being fundamentally effective.

 
India's demographic future

In addition to the broad problems facing primary education, higher education in India faces its own distinct set of challenges. These include finding the right faculty, building the right infrastructure, encouraging meaningful research and development projects, and having a greater equality of opportunity.

 

According to UN data, India is home to the largest number of illiterate adults on the planet. With a population of about 1.21 billion, India has 40% of its population below the age of 18 and is estimated to have 55% of its population under 20 by 2015. To secure India's future, providing a better education to India's youth is imperative.

 
Pratham's vision

Pratham envisions higher learning levels for all students through an outcome-oriented system that sets measurable learning goals. Our strategy is to demonstrate that setting these goals and designing teaching and delivery methods to achieve these goals can directly enhance the learning outcomes of children.

 

Pratham uses large scale demonstrations to advocate for change in government practice and policy in order to reach as many students as possible. We believe that maximal impact can be achieved through government initiatives supported by Pratham and similar organizations.

 

Pratham hopes to improve its innovative teaching methods, directly reach a greater number of children, and continue campaigning for institutional change across the nation. The next decade will be crucial for India and resources will have to be used judiciously. If we strengthen our primary education system and ensure adequate literacy and numeracy skills, India and its children will come to reap the benefits.


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The journey of a thousand lives begins with a dream; a father's dream for himself. A better future, a better tomorrow. But a father is one, who lives his life through his children. He might be the harsher one off the parents, the stricter one; but he is the one who wants more from himself to offer to his children.