Education in rural India – the real picture
Approximately 67% of India’s population stays in rural areas
While the percentage of children in the age group 6 to 14 years enrolled in schools is an impressive 95% (ASER 2018), the dropout rate in secondary and higher secondary groups is also high.
A wide majority of the children in Indian rural areas are enrolled in public Government schools. Despite investments from the best charity organizations and Government resources, the quality of education in these schools leave a lot to be desired. Unlike private urban schools, Government schools in rural areas have limited means of educating their kids. They are hugely crippled by:
- Lack of good infrastructure
- Basic facilities
- Competent teaching staff
- Access to modern technology
There exists a widening gap between the quality of education in rural and urban areas and it’s the children who suffer the most.
Adoption of the English Language
One such problem becoming more and more evident in public schools is their proficiency in English, which is a widely accepted language of communication today. Most of our public schools operate in local and vernacular languages and thus place less emphasis on learning English. According to ASER 2018, more than 50% of Standard 5 students in rural areas couldn’t read a textbook meant for Standard 2 students.
When these children move onto pursue higher education, they suddenly find it difficult to cope with the standards of expectations in good universities and often end up dropping out.
This is a point of concern because these children will one day form a major part of our workforce. Their lack of understanding of the English language will hamper their employment opportunities as compared to students from the urban areas.
Whether we donate money to charity or get directly involved, it is our responsibility to do everything we can to support these children and their chances at a brighter future.
The single most obvious solution to this problem at the moment is training teachers and empowering them to be a better source of knowledge for their students. Since English is not the primary language of communication in rural India, teachers in public or Government schools are not equipped with the necessary skills to teach English to their children. It’s highly imperative to build them an effective learning and teaching mechanism so that they’re empowered to teach their students everything they need.
Making a change
Vibha partnered LeapForWord is an organisation that is tirelessly working on improving the teaching quality of English in Government schools operating in the local language. LeapForWord trains these teachers using concept videos showcasing how to teach English language concepts using the local language. These techniques are then adopted by the teachers and outlined in their respective classes. In addition to this, other resources like worksheets for students, homework, test sheets and activity for summer homework are also shared with them so that students can benefit from them.
The organization is operating in 5 states currently, namely Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh.
Pratibha Jagtap is one such primary teacher in the Pune district who had undertaken training under LeapForWord. When she was newly transferred to a small ZP school in Kundmala village to teach English to Grade 3 and 4 students, she instantly noticed one big problem. After graduating from Grade 4, students would then move to a secondary school in a nearby town for further education. However, these students would suddenly find themselves in the midst of children from all backgrounds who’d received a better quality of education. Not knowing English, these students would find it difficult to cope with others and often end up dropping out.
Pratibha was determined not to let the same fate befall these students anymore. Slowly, with the support of LeapForWord’s concept videos, she adapted these techniques to improve the vocabulary of her students in Grade 4. With the help of interactive activities, she taught them to frame small English sentences and because of her patience and dedication, the kids started developing a liking for the subject. A subject that seemed so foreign, remained foreign no more.
Impact on students
One of the many students that Mrs Jagtap teaches is Kranti, who is a Grade 1 student. Her mother works as a worker in the same school and prepares mid-day meals for the children. Situated in the same class as the Grade 4 students, Mrs, Jagtap would notice Kranti paying special attention to the lessons when she’d teach them to the older students. She encouraged the sweet girl to continue learning and to everyone’s greatest surprise, Kranti’s reading skills had improved remarkably by the end of the year. She could now read and spell 10-14 letter words like “juxtaposition, responsibility, nomenclature” which she’d have perhaps never heard before.
Kranti is now learning Advanced Reading and has started reading English books other than her school textbooks. English happens to be her favourite today, thanks to her teacher Pratibha Jagtap.
Vibha wants to empower a lot more teachers like Pratibha who can then go on to teach children like Kranti. But we can’t do this without your support. These children are our future, so let’s do everything we can to help them become the best version of themselves – the version that is better equipped to handle the realities of the fast approaching world.
If you’re looking for the best charities to donate to, please consider donating here. Every bit we raise today will go towards educating our children tomorrow.