During the last decade, public education in India has made great progress in terms of schooling, but the quality of that education remains extremely poor, and the current data are not optimistic.
I read with some sadness a new report published by the World Bank. It seems that about half of grade four students in India can not subtract. The percentage of third-grade students who can read a grade one text is roughly 30%. In recent years the quality of education has not only not improved but even worsened. Rural areas are particularly problematic.
And the problem is not only in India but throughout South Asia, which has the highest number of school age children of any region in the world, and many of them are the first in their families to attend school.
The World Bank report makes some very general recommendations, such as: make learning outcomes the central goal of education policy; invest in early children nutrition, since malnutrition reduces children’s ability to learn; improve teacher effectiveness and accountability; or leveraging the contribution of non-state players.
Amid this bleak educational landscape, the work of some organizations that I know very well, like Shanti Bhavan or Parikrma Foundation –which have a strong commitment to quality education and learning–, is extremely important. They are a ray of light in the midst of these problems. I am sure the government of India could learn quite a few lessons through initiatives like these.
The educational landscape in Spain and Catalonia is not comparable with that of South Asia, but the large cuts that the government is doing in education do not augur anything good. Here, quality education is also suffering.
Photo: Kara Newhouse - Flickr