India has the largest education system in the world with 150 million children are enrolled in nearly 800 thousand schools. Although access to education had been a serious issue for long, this has been overcome in recent years, and most children in India are enrolled for primary schooling. Despite this massification of education, the extent and quality of education provision across India remains extremely inconsistent. Significant numbers of children drop out of school and fail to complete their basic education. Besides, the quality of education delivered in India’s schools leaves the children just above the bottom-most among countries in terms of reading levels. Schools in rural and marginalised areas are particularly deficient in quality of teaching, and education for their students does not imply any betterment in their lives. Certain populations, such as migrant workers and nomadic pastoralists, continue to remain beyond the reach of the education system, their children a shadow group for education... Read More
India has the largest education system in the world with 150 million children are enrolled in nearly 800 thousand schools. Although access to education had been a serious issue for long, this has been overcome in recent years, and most children in India are enrolled for primary schooling. Despite this massification of education, the extent and quality of education provision across India remains extremely inconsistent. Significant numbers of children drop out of school and fail to complete their basic education. Besides, the quality of education delivered in India’s schools leaves the children just above the bottom-most among countries in terms of reading levels. Schools in rural and marginalised areas are particularly deficient in quality of teaching, and education for their students does not imply any betterment in their lives. Certain populations, such as migrant workers and nomadic pastoralists, continue to remain beyond the reach of the education system, their children a shadow group for education statisticians.
Education is a key aspect of Pragya’s work – interwoven across multiple programme areas. We are committed to extending education to the poorest households in neglected communities, no matter what the geographic and social challenges. Our education projects are aimed at both children and adults, covering essential curricula and life skills. Through our education management system, Pragya is measuring the quality of education in neglected schools, and working to bring standards in these schools in line with national indicators. Pragya also works to educate marginalised migratory populations, and our innovative ‘schools on wheel’s are securing brighter futures for first generation learners. Through our work targeted specifically at girls, Pragya is leading the way in addressing the gender disparity in India’s educational system. These are just some of Pragya’s innovative educational initiatives that are greatly improving the prospects for those neglected demographics that deserve better. Our past work has also involved supplementary education centres for children without access to schools as well as tent schools for nomad children.Show Less
Children of migrant workers and those of communities in remote and mountainous regions of India, can face severe disadvantages in accessing education. Children of the poorest families in India who have to migrate out to eke out a living through road construction and other menial jobs, have little or no access to education, and likely face a life of the same hard labour as their parents. As first-generation learners, they cannot even rely on their parents to give them basic schooling, and with no availability of child care services, children out of school accompany parents on the worksite, exposing them to a range of diseases, dangerous machinery and passing traffic. In those rare instances where a local state school is within reach, migrants may face discrimination in attempting enrolment.Children of remote rural and mountainous areas suffer poor infrastructure, and are often distant from educational and administrative centres. There is a particular scarcity of quality learning facilities accessible to remote communities, hampering early life development and leaving a critical education gap for their children.
Pragya is committed to bringing education to the underserved in the farthest corners, no matter the challenge, and to address the gaps in education for children of migrant workers, nomad children and children of remote and marginalised communities.
Pragya delivers essential basic education to children of migrant road-construction workersin the Himalayas through our innovative ‘Schools on Wheels’, purpose-renovated vans equipped with a range of age-specific teaching and learning materials. Classes are delivered in the migrant camps by trained teachers focusing on basic literacy and numeracy. Additionally, these mobile classrooms support co-curricular activities/ classes that foster creativity and cover relevant curricula and life skills, such as ecology and hygiene. We also run sensitisation sessions with local schools, to promote the enrolment of migrant children. Complementing this work, we deliver adult literacy classesin the camps, fitting lessons around the work day and teaching both essential numeracy and literacy, as well as key life skills, including digital literacy. Pragya has also helped set up tent-based crechesequipped with learning toys for the migrant workers’ children to given them access to a protected environment and early-age learning. Our education work with migrant workers’ children has won us recognition in the form of STARS Impact Award- see Awards.
Pragya has also worked with nomadic pastoral communities in the remote Himalayas, where the seasonal migration of communities for the raising of livestock makes school enrolment and sustained attendance problematic. We have delivered education to the nomad childrenthrough tent-based classrooms with travelling teachers who delivered a curriculum that had been shaped to the specific needs of nomadic communities, and ensured continuity of education.
Extending access to education to the last mile, we have devised educational initiatives that operate to address regional issues and limitations, based on seminal Pragya research- see Research. Working with communities, we form Village Education Committees for localised management of education. We have established and operated Alternate Learning Hubs, designated community spaces at which trained youth delivered supplementary education in times of disrupted access, provided targeted modular learning in subjects in which students were struggling and intensive bridge courses for drop-outs.
In consultation with communities and regional experts, Pragya works to improve curricula and pedagogy for last mile populations, adapting existing curricula to ensure they are geographically and culturally appropriate, and supplementing current content with modules on locally-relevant issues and first exposure to vocational training. In a supporting initiative, Pragya works to establish Education Resource Centresacross remote and marginalised communities, which serve to compliment education with resources such as libraries, science labs, computers, and the like. The Centres function as a hub for extracurricular activitiessuch as quizzes, debates and relevant exposure visits, deliver location-relevant courses on a variety of personal and professional developmenttopics, such as enterprise skills, book keeping, ecotourism and photography, and run community workshops on issues of local importance such as the value of education, renewable energy and water management.
GEOGRAPHY / LOCATION
Pragya’s work to reach Access to Education for the Last Mile has been/ is being implemented in parts of northern India, in the states of Arunachal Pradesh, Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir and Uttarakhand.
India’s problems with respect to quality education and thereby ensuring reading and numerical skills in all its children, is especially aggravated by its cultural and geographic diversity, and associated disadvantages. ‘Educationally backward’ areas in the country are characterized by low literacy levels, high drop-out rates and other poor educational outcomes due to inferior quality of education, resulting in perpetuating poverty and social injustice; these areas are also developmentally challenged, often in remote geographies and frequently inhabited by socio-economically marginalized groups. Teaching inadequacies and deplorable infrastructure in schools in educationally backward areas go unnoticed and unaddressed however. Marginalisation and the associated developmental challenges have also meant there is very little supervision and monitoring of school performance in these areas and negligible efforts at improvement. The curriculum used for these often distinct groups is also so far from their cultures and real life needs that both parents and children feel a lack of interest in and value for education.
To tackle the problems of marginalised schools in educationally backward areas, Pragya has worked to develop and introduce a range of tools to improve and supplement state education provision.
Pragya has designed the ‘Dynamic Education Information System for Planning and Improvement’, an education management information system that contributes to improving quality of education in marginalised schools through grassroots data collection on student reading levels, instruction quality, school operations and management. The data collected is measured against a pre-determined standard to identify facets where schools need to improve, and key stakeholders including Parent Teacher Associations, Village Education Committees, School Management Committees, and education department officials are supported to work collaboratively to resolve issues and improve performance, with periodic assessments used to measure progress. The System is designed to integrate with existing education frameworks and empowers communities to engage with government officials to highlight the educational shortcomings in underserved areas, and to advocate for equal educational standards across society, regardless of location, social background, or gender. It was piloted through introduction in selected schools and evidence collected validated its effectiveness. This innovative Education Information Management System has been recognised by the All Children Reading Award- see Awards.
In consultation with communities and regional experts, Pragya has also worked to improve curricula and pedagogyfor last mile populations, adapting existing curricula to ensure they are geographically and culturally appropriate, and supplementing current content with modules on locally-relevant issues and first exposure to vocational training.
GEOGRAPHY / LOCATION
Pragya’s work on improving Education Management in Marginalised Schools has been/ is being implemented in parts of northern India, in the states of Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir and Uttarakhand.
Girls in rural India are subject to multiple levels of social and economic discrimination, and Pragya is committed to tackling the rampant gender bias permeating many aspects of girls’ lives that is manifest across the regions we serve. This programme is focussed on the widespread discrimination that girls face in simply getting the education they deserve, as reflected in the poor school-attendance and literacy rates among girls. A complex interaction of social norms and attitudes underpin the rural gender imbalance in education: high rates of underage marriage among girls, resulting in the early cessation of schooling, exacerbated by poverty and low social status; high levels of sexual harassment of girls, as well as high risk of abduction and trafficking, and other forms of violence on their way to school (and in other public – male dominated – spaces) – instilling fear and restricting movement, ultimately limiting girls’ capacity and willingness to attend school and pursue other life opportunities.
Pragya works to rectify the low access to education for girls in India through activities in three key areas.
We are building and enhancing support networks for girls’ education in government and society. We are engaging with local government through workshops designed to stimulate government action towards increasing and prolonging girls’ participation in education, including a major push to improve the physical protection of girls. Complementing this at the grassroots, we are orienting village-level women’s groups on the critical status of girls’ education, and supporting these groups to champion the cause in their villages.
Pragya is also delivering direct activities to improve girls’ enrolment and retention rates. Educated women in villages are developed as ‘Coach & Counsellors’ for girls. They are empowered to challenge gender discrimination in their villages and engage with parents in the home to promote girls’ enrolment at school. They are supported to teach basic numeracy and literacy to girls that have never attended school, and coordinate hard-hitting school enrolment campaigns for girls. For the poorest communities, Pragya also provides material support in terms of books and uniforms for girls, to forestall dropping out of school. Schools are also facilitated to adopt vocational education courses, as well as the introduction of careers guidance services – a significant attraction to pupils and parents alike.
A final aspect of this programme is dedicated to reducing discrimination against girls via attitude-adjustment programmes as an effective means to addressing social norms and securing increased gender equality. Sensitisation workshops with school management committeesand staff to improve the schooling environment for girls, whilst also implementing strategies for improved educational attainment among girls. Peer support groups for adolescent girlspromote gender awareness and confidence building; the Coach and Counsellors and women’s groups in villages are empowered to deal with gender discrimination in their communities, combining rapid prevention measures aimed safeguarding girls identified as being at immanent risk of underage marriage, trafficking and other forms of gender-based violence, with a longer-term community engagement methodology.
GEOGRAPHY / LOCATION
Pragya’s programme for Educating Girls has been implemented in the north Indian state of Rajashthan. Specific interventions have implemented in the states of Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, and Uttarakhand as well.