Position Paper: “Early Language and Literacy in India”

Position Paper: “Early Language and Literacy in India”

ConnecTeach recommends EARLY LANGUAGE AND LITERACY IN INDIA, A POSITION PAPER. We are proud and honored to have participated in the development of this document that “will enable policy makers and educators (practitioners and academicians) to develop a set of informed actions based upon the principles of language and literacy development in young children.”

The entire document is available here.

For Some Girls in India, Adolescence Brings an End to School

For Some Girls in India, Adolescence Brings an End to School

Adolescence brings changes. And those changes exacerbate the struggle to simply survive as a member of India’s most impoverished castes. Sonia Faleiro of the New York Times reports on the struggles of one girl of the Mati Wadars caste whose story is typical of far too many others.

Read the article:  New York Times

UNICEF’s The State of the World’s Children 2011

UNICEF’s The State of the World’s Children 2011

Of the world’s 1.2 billion teens, 9 out of 10 live in developing countries. Of those who are enrolled in school, a third are struggling to complete their primary education. The teachers charged with preparing these children for the future work in conditions where power outages are par for the course, computers, when available, are outdated, classrooms are bare, textbooks are outdated, and support is minimal. In a world where knowledge changes practically every day, what does the future hold for these children?

Education 

An excerpt from UNICEF’s The State of the World’s Children 2011. Read the full report here.

Secondary education is critical to adolescent development and well-being. To successfully negotiate the multiple risks to their development and rights, adolescents must be armed with a broad spectrum of knowledge and essential skills, including solving problems creatively, finding and critically evaluating information and communicating effectively. Where secondary schooling is available, primary schools tend to be of higher quality and to enrol more children, while communities benefit from greater civic participation, lower levels of youth violence, reduced poverty and greater social empowerment. Most children start secondary education in early adolescence. But within this age group, 1 in 5 is not in school at all (1 in 3 in sub-Saharan Africa) – a total of almost 71 million adolescents. Meanwhile, a third of adolescents who attend school are still completing primary grades. Despite significant progress over the last decade, many millions do not make the transition to secondary grades. Incomplete primary education, higher costs, greater distance to school and economic imperatives are just some of the obstacles preventing children from continuing their schooling. Education yields many long-term benefits, particularly for adolescent girls, contributing to later marriage, lower fertility rates and reduced domestic violence as well as lower infant mortality and improved child nutrition. In most regions of the world, girls’ attendance rates are lower than those of boys. At the same time, in almost all developed countries and in Latin America and the Caribbean as well as East Asia and the Pacific, girls outperform boys in school achievement. Adolescents from marginalized groups often lose out even where secondary schooling is available. To grant them the opportunity to gain the skills to make a decent living, and the knowledge they need to protect themselves and realize their rights, a greater variety of educational options is required. Educationally disadvantaged adolescents can benefit from non-formal or peer education, vocational and technical courses and flexible ‘catch-up’ programmes for those whose schooling has been interrupted. By focusing more keenly on equity in education, we can better reach vulnerable adolescents excluded by poverty, HIV and AIDS, disability or ethnicity.

The Progress of School Education in India

The Progress of School Education in India

Read the full article by Geeta Gandhi Kingdon [Global Poverty Research Group] here.

This paper provides an overview of school education in India.  Firstly, it places India’s educational achievements in international perspective, especially against countries with which it is now increasingly compared such as BRIC economies in general and China in particular. India does well relative to Pakistan and Bangladesh but lags seriously behind China and the other BRIC countries, especially in secondary school participation and youth literacy rates.   Secondly, the paper examines schooling access in terms of enrolment and school attendance rates, and schooling quality in terms of literacy rates, learning achievement levels, school resources and teacher inputs.  The substantial silver lining in the cloud of Indian education is that its primary enrolment rates are now close to universal. However, despite progress, attendance and retention rates are not close to universal, secondary enrolment rates are low, learning achievement levels are seriously low and teacher absenteeism is high, signaling poor quality of schooling.   Thirdly, the paper examines the role of private schooling in India. While more modest in rural areas, the recent growth of private schooling in urban areas has been nothing short of massive, raising questions about growing inequality in educational opportunity. Evidence suggests that private schools are both more effective in imparting learning and do so at a fraction of the unit cost of government schools, their cost advantage being because they can pay market wages while government school teachers’ bureaucratically set minimum wages have large rents in them which teacher unions have fought hard to secure.  Lastly, the paper discusses some major public education initiatives such as Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, mid-day meal and para-teacher schemes.  The impacts of these massive interventions (and their sub-components) on children’s schooling outcomes need to be rigorously evaluated to learn about the cost-effectiveness of alternative interventions for better future policy making. However, the existence of some of these initiatives and the introduction of the 2% education cess to fund them suggests increased public commitment to school education and, together with increased NGO education activity, gives grounds for optimism about the future, even though many challenges remain.