HISTORY in Madrasa Jamia Irfaniya*: It is class 8, a class of some 40 young men. They are sitting on benches and not on daris, only about four in the stereotypical caps, all looking smart and modern. And they are open. On my arrival, they get over their smiling and staring quickly and then ignore me and get on with their work.
School and the Society
FROM its inception in 1994 as a public charitable trust, ensuring that every child is in school and learning remains Pratham ’s main objective.The founders believed that to achieve universalization of primary education, a societal mission was needed – a movement in which citizens, government and others would come together to bring every child to school and help the child to learn well. A founding principle was also that any model or strategy that was developed should be replicable, and therefore low cost, so that every child could be reached.
OVER a period of twenty years, Rishi Valley Education Centre has created a multi-grade multi-level programme for elementary education known as ‘The School in a Box ’. The nomenclature is meant to reflect both the programme ’s compactness and its portability:like a medium sized suitcase it can be carried around by a single teacher. The Box, has in fact, been transported to many regions in India.
WE are tired of listening to or writing about the hoary perennials in education. True, there is a lot that is terribly wrong but there are also many interesting initiatives happening around the country for us to celebrate and learn from.
A curriculum is at best a statement of intent, which not only reflects the philosophy of its framers but their conception of society as well. In a way it conceptualizes their understanding of the present based on which a plan for the future is formulated. All of this may not be articulated in the curriculum though. Therefore, the renewed thrust in the last two decades on adult and elementary education, to be precise on developing literacy and numeracy skills, needs to be located in the context of socio-political and economic changes.
WHERE do children go after class eight was the question that haunted us while running the Hoshangabad Science Teaching Programme (HSTP) over thirty years (1972-2002) in rural government middle schools of Madhya Pradesh. Since the programme ran in a substantial number of schools – about 2000 – at the time (it was inexplicably withdrawn in 2002 by the Madhya Pradesh government) and the class eight test was a board examination, the issue was anything but minor.
SOCIETY has changed significantly, however, the changes in social institutions, more so in education, are much less significant. Though there is no shortage of education reforms, few of them seem to have responded to and matched the changes in the larger context. This essay attempts to discuss the changes in society and their implications for education.
FOR long years now we have lamented the crisis of our education system – its divorce from the larger society, its production of unemployable persons, its questionable orientation, its poor functioning, and the continued exclusion of the poor and the disadvantaged. Much of the narratives of the crises have become commonsensical although thorough research on each of the themes is awaited.
THE decade of the 1990s showered both unprecedented national and international attention and funding on universal elementary education (education for all). This period also witnessed a growing disillusionment about adult literacy programmes with policy-makers and administrators arguing that it was important to shut the tap before mopping the floor. Though some constituencies continued to emphasise the relevance of adult learning, the focus by and large shifted to elementary education.
An unlikely revolution is in the offing in the realm of Indian higher education. The contemporary design of increasing the number of colleges, universities and other institutes combined with the emphasis on an economically relevant education might just be able to wrench our system of education out of its present torpor. There is a catch, however. This is not the first time that efforts are being made to either enlarge the demographic canvass of education, or to make education economically relevant, practical and directly related to social concerns.