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July 14, 2005

Primary education - fix this first !

Rajesh points to the education system crisis as it exists in the primary sector in India. Though much is written about the vast pool of engineering graduates but  picture at the primary level is embarassing and shameful !

According to Rajesh :

375 million. That is the number of Indians in the 6-19 age group. As they grow up and enter the workforce, they are bound together by one need - education. And by all accounts, they aren't getting enough of it. In an article, Business Week (Jan 31, 2005) called India "a nation of dropouts." The facts bear out the stark reality. "While 96% of India's children enroll in primary school, by the age of 10 about 40% have dropped out, says the education department. Just over a third of high school students graduate."

Educating India's young is a problem that needs immediate attention. Every year, we are closing the window to a better life for tens of millions of Indians. At the same time, it is not an easy problem to solve. India has a million schools. Most of them are in rural areas and government-run. Teachers and teaching leave much to be desired across most of them. Unless we come up with innovative, radical solutions quickly, we will be squandering India's greatest asset.

On a related note I asked Atanu on  how to make people attend to a crisis  by constantly 
emphasizing that problem as a crisis.  His suggestion :

Awareness of important issues requires two things: one, information, and two, the capacity to internalize the information and become aware of the issue, which could then lead to some sort of action related to the issue

Can this capacity be increased by some intervention ?

In a deterministic society its very hard to attend to one problem at the expense of others but I think in some social contexts attending to one problem by treating as a calamity will result in  better results overall  versus giving a piecemeal solution to many problems.

Primary education is a disaster in India and I don't see any sign of that improving dramatically.  Country is enjoying some attention at the top level but the basic seeds which make any society strong and responsible are not getting proper education.

I believe corporate sector should step in here and have a ownership model where certain tax exemptions will be tied to their contributions at the primary education level and not just at the vocational course level.  Some form of social rebate model can be introduced which companies can avail by owning the resource welfare of  primary schools.

It's no brainer to extend the theory this  segment once educated will have better sensibilities towards future global issues such environment and energy !

July 14, 2005 | Permalink


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