Most education in India’s small villages takes place in a local government primary school where children typically between the ages of five and ten attend classes from 1st to 5th standard. There is one primary school in every village and in many of them there is just one teacher who has to teach the entire group of children of different ages at the same time. With today’s education system, where standardised curriculums and centralised examinations are definitive, such a setup puts rural children at a great disadvantage.
There are many constraints in villages that make it extremely difficult for the situation to improve. For example, there is a clear lack of teachers, as well as the unclear relationship between formal education and day-to-day village life. The Central Government has launched several far-reaching programmes to address the shortcomings of the Indian education system, including the Right-To- Education (RTE) Act of 2009, which has taken up the goal of delivering elementary education (1st to 8th standard) to all children between six and fourteen years of age.
Over the last decade, the government has proactively addressed issues of infrastructure, qualified teachers and enrolment, which lead to significant improvements in the education levels of the rural poor. However, at least as important as enrolment is the continuation of studies. According to the official government statistics of 2016 (U-DISE Report), nationally 29% of children drop out before completing their elementary education (1st to 8th standard), at which point they would be considered literate.
For Scheduled Tribes, the same rate is as high as 50%. This is an area of serious concern. While the systemic reforms underway will take a long time to trickle down to the villages, there are several areas where immediate support can be offered to support the government’s initiatives.
Amrita SeRVe carries out a range of different activities to promote education, support the children in their studies, as well as supplement academic learning with value education.