India has taken significant strides towards realising its vision of providing access to education for all its children. In 2001, India launched the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA or Education for All) to achieve universal elementary enrollment and retention by 2010, through building a large number of schools, school incentives, food, and an increase in the number of teachers in school, to name a few.
But the biggest challenge that India’s public education system faces today is that the tremendous success in achieving nearly 100% access to schooling has not translated to quality learning.
Low learning levels point to several gaps entrenched deeply within the system of education – retention rates after primary school are low. Several historically marginalised groups are left without access to quality education. Teachers are often under-trained and over-worked. Rote-learning and language barriers lead to schools becoming an unattractive place for children to continue.
Education awareness programmes do not reach everyone, and the community is left uninformed. The emerging data about the quality, access and equity of education in India point towards a crucial space where companies can intercede to create great impact through Corporate Social Responsibility.