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Educational deprivation in India: some quick observations

posted Nov 13, 2012, 5:45 PM by Anirban Pal   [ updated Jun 25, 2013, 4:11 AM by Nilanjan Nath ]

From the very little that I know so far about the most pressing problems in education in India, these are the summaries:

  • The rural schools are generally more deprived in terms of teachers and the ability of parents to pay for educational services.
  • Incidence of child labor can be seen even in big cities like Kolkata. Many of these children do not go to school. Mid-day meals have increased school enrollment and attendance but there are still some who are falling through the cracks. 
  • Student-teacher ratio and teacher quality are issues that are mentioned. But I am not sure if these should matter a lot. Students can learn a lot by themselves by interacting with one another. The full potential for self-learning and peer-learning is perhaps not yet been recognized.
  • Students who get exposure are more likely to use improved educational tools. Those kids who are privileged enough to have access to the world wide web and who are made aware of resources such as the Khan Academy, very quickly learn to make full use of them to enhance their learning themselves. They do not need external incentives for them to adopt these new learning strategies. 
  • The problem seem to be about lack of awareness of what is available for free. And this lack of awareness is at different levels. Schools don't know that there are resources, tools and technologies (both hardware and software) available for free. Teachers don't know some of the tools that they can use for free. And students and parents don't know what they can use for free. 

I invite all those who have been associated with learning and education in India to add to this list of observations. We need to better understand where the problems are before we can think of a solution. Thank you.