Understanding Education in India

I embarked on this journey of understanding education in India late last year. While I still feel, I know very little & learn amazing new things every other day — I feel I have reached a point, where I can document my journey.

This post is mostly about the journey, in the hope that if there are others who follow a similar path, they can build on top. I will follow up with a series of 3–4 posts on challenges in Education, especially in India and Ideas that I believe might be worth pursuing in this space.

  1. Data — I started out looking for data about the state of Education in India. Found ASER(Annual Status of Education Report) to be the best report at a large scale & it informed a lot of my initial thinking. I did spend a lot of time going through data on the MHRD website as well as on DISE(District Information System for Education) — It did help me get a lot of perspectives. Caution — Its tedious to go through. There is also a large collection of reports & data at data.gov.in on Education. Besides these I found the publications on the websites of Educational Initiatives, Central Square Foundation & Azim Premji Foundation to be useful. There is a lot of data & research out there. Not easy to explore, and some of it was questionable in terms of methodology, sizes. But my initial read — that there isn’t much data & research was wrong. There is quite a bit of data & research, but the quality of it is not like research publications in science or like economic data.
  2. Books — I read a few books on the topic. The Beautiful Tree & Finnish Lessons were amongst the first ones I read and both exposed me to topics and ways of thinking I hadn’t thought of at all. Reading about the creation of world class institute ISB, in a short time — An Idea whose time has come, was insightful — especially towards the question — Why has India not been able to create a lot more world class institutions in the recent times? I was most deeply impacted by John Holt’s book — How Children Learn. As I have read other books — I have realised that the principles behind what Holt says are very similar to what Montessori or Krishnamurthi says. And yet — our entire education system operates at crossroads with these philosophies.
  3. People — I reached out to & met about 50 folks in the field and tried to learn from their experiences. People were amazingly kind & open to share their learnings as well as their failures. Amongst universities, I spoke to folks from Manipal group, my alma mater PES, Azim Premji & Ashoka university. Amongst NGOs — Spoke to Madhav & Radhika of Pratham & ASER, Aditya of Kaivalya, Shaheen of TFI, Ashok of Akshara. I spent some time at Kaivalya, Ek Step & TFI offices. I visited were — Rishi Valley in Madanpalle, Riverside & Aarohi. I am grateful to all the people who made time to meet me, wrote introductions .. without having known me.

People who helped me a lot in this journey include Gautam John, Aditya Natraj, Shankar of EkStep, Ramya Venkatraman of CENTA, Sridhar of EI , Atul of Nudge and Varun & Naveen of Imax. This is also the set of people whose work I like & respect a lot in Education. So if you are thinking about working in Education — Do look these people & their organisations up. Besides them, I was also influenced a lot by Madhav Chavan’s thoughts.

There’s a ton of other folks, books that I can learn more about Education from & this will be an ongoing journey. But now … I am itching for some action …

What did I learn from all of these … Next few posts …

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