Buniyaad is working in Sant Kabir Nagar and Basti districts of UP . We found that educational system in Sant Kabir Nagar and Basti (probably in other rural areas as well) is facing following three major challenges.
1. Lack of credible quality indicators to separate good and poor quality schools: There has been large scale migration towards private scale in Sant Kabir Nagar in last decade. However, there have been questions over the quality of education in the burgeoning private schools. A majority of these schools in rural and semi-urban areas charge around just Rs. 100 per month as fees. Even at that level, 15 to 20 per cent of the students default annually. As a result, these schools do not generate enough revenue to pay decent salaries, with a majority of the teachers earning less than Rs. 3,000 a month. Low salaries deter the hiring and retention of qualified teachers, which then translates into poor quality of education. While some parents are genuinely unable to afford higher fees, even those with higher incomes are unwilling to pay more. The key reason for this is lack of information about the quality of education in the school. As a result, a dedicated person running a school is treated on par with a fly-by-night operator.
For the last 4 years Buniyaad has been trying to separate dedicated persons running schools from a fly-by-night operators, through annual test. Efforts has resulted in emergence of 3-4 high quality schools.
The following article, published in The Hindu has been written by a Buniyaad member. It highlights the challenges and Buniyaad’s efforts to overcome it.
Setting standards for schools
2. Lack of information about educational institutions and career opportunities: Buniyaad aims to reduce the information gap about courses and institutions in higher education. Under this programme, we are inviting role models, who have started in Rural Areas and went on to make a big mark in the world. They interact with students and share their expertise in the respective field and ignite the young minds to believe in themselves. Three career guidance events have been organized. In the first event, a scientist from ISRO interacted with students. In the second even, a bureaucrat and a doctor interacted with students. Third event was held on 25th December, it included Associate professor from IIM and Managing Director, Uttar Pradesh Development Systems Corporation Ltd., Govt of UP (IAS). All of them are from Basti, Sant Kabir Nagar and Siddharth Nagar.
With the aim to address this problem in more effective manner; we have opened an Information and Career Guidance Centre. Centre will facilitate interaction of students with experts, who will guide them about opportunities. It will also help them with online applications.
2. Quality of teachers and educational technology: As mentioned above, the major challenge is quality of teachers in private schools. Our intervention in last three has improved the commitment of teachers. However, because most of the teachers in schools are untrained, the quality remains a major issue. Technology can play a major role in improving the quality. We tried to promote Khan academy and other materials. However, limited financial resources of schools, erratic power supply situation and poor internet speed proved to be major hindrance. More importantly, schools were unwilling to invest large sums of money in something they were not sure of benefits.
To showcase the benefits of technology Buniyaad has decided to create digital library and a classroom with video materials.
Web links of Buniyaad