India/September 12, 2022/By: Rajesh Bhatia/Source: https://www.firstpost.com/
The lack of proper infrastructure, absence of good connecting roads to schools, drinking water, toilets, and even basic learning materials like desks, tables, and books, can be addressed through public-private partnerships
India has a sprawling education system and as per the National Survey of India published in 2022, the literacy rate in the country is around 77.7 per cent. UNESCO predicts that India will achieve a universal literacy rate in the year 2060 which does not bode well for the 25 per cent of Indians who cannot currently access even primary education. But I believe that a total literacy rate need not be a distant dream.
However total literacy cannot be achieved without innovative education models. A wide gap exists between rural and urban regions as far as accessible quality education goes and the pandemic has further exacerbated this inequity. We must find ways to expand the reach of education to empower underserved Indians.
One of the Sustainable Development Goals put forward by the United Nations is to promote and ensure equal learning opportunities for all. This year’s Literacy Day theme earlier this month was ‘Transforming Literacy Learning Spaces’ where the emphasis is on quality, equitable, and inclusive education for all and this is what we as a developing country should strive for. Especially when it comes to Tier 1, 2, and 3 cities. Apart from adequate infrastructure, affordable fee structures, incentives, and supportive scholarships, I also suggest training modules for teachers with effective pedagogic approaches that are inclusive, adaptable, and responsive to different demographics.
Post the pandemic, the country is seeing a reverse migration with daily wage workers returning to their villages and this is one more reason to strengthen educational and digital infrastructure in rural areas. I feel there is a lot that edupreneurs like me can do in areas where there is a huge educational disparity. Hybrid modules that look beyond classrooms and chalk and talk models, encouraging computer literacy, outreach initiatives that can help local communities to break taboos around sending their daughters to school are some of the ways we can work towards a more inclusive educational system.
The lack of proper infrastructure, absence of good connecting roads to schools, drinking water, toilets, and even basic learning materials like desks, tables, and books, can be addressed through public-private partnerships. The curriculum and outdated teaching methods followed in rural schools also need to be updated with the help of AR and VR and well-trained teachers. Reading, speaking, and writing skills at the primary level of education must also be given utmost importance.
The lack of skill-based learning is a major cause of unemployment in India, especially among rural youth. An emphasis on life skills, proficiency in English, and technological know-how will empower young people to compete for jobs that have traditionally gone to urban youth. Holistic development of education is possible only through regular interventions in the curriculum and the reskilling and upskilling of educators.
The author is an educationist, entrepreneur and founder of TreeHouse Education. Views are personal.